An Olympic Job—Recruiting for Rio 2016

olympic rings

The countdown to the August 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio is underway.  But, for recruiters and event planners, hiring staff to plan and stage the event has been ongoing for years.

Every four years, host countries oversee the task of building venues and preparing to serve and protect elite athletes, teams, and spectators. This year, questions continue to swirl about whether the Brazilian city and surrounding areas will be ready in time.  As recently as December, bacterial test results questioned whether water courses for use in the Games meet health standards.  More recently, event managers and health authorities are reacting to the emergence of the Zika virus.

As these challenges play out, the organization of the Games—and staffing of the event—must go on.

Recruiting for the 2016 Summer Games began in 2010. According to an interview with HR Executive Online, Henriquez Gonzalez, Director of  staffing for the 2016 Summer Games notes, “Finding the right persons with the right skills and keeping them engaged in the beginning is the most challenging, especially the volunteers, because something of this size was never done in Brazil.”

For Rio, organizers have partnered with Manpower Group Solutions to provide services that include:

  • Recruit approximately 3,000 staff members for paid positions
  • Coordinate information on approximately 450,000 potential hires for Olympic vendors, sponsors, media outlets, and other organizations

As the largest sporting event in the world, staffing the Games requires recruiting paid hires, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and interns.

For the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, organizers created a volunteer pool of 70,000 winnowed from 250,000 applications.  In Rio, the numbers are similar with 60,000 volunteers, 85,000 contractors, and about 6,000 paid staff members. As with the local London effort, recruiters for the Rio Olympics are processing applicants at eight recruiting offices located in Rio and surrounding cities.

As could be expected, Manpower scaled up the recruiting process to meet staffing needs.  The recruiters tackled the task by using HR tech, social media, and nimble service management in ways that include:

  • Response to organizational priority: The recruiting and hiring process aligned with the needs of the Olympic planning process from end-to-end.  Planners and managers were hired first.  Attention then turned to contractors, vendors, volunteers, and interns.
  • Staffing pool: Responding to government requests to hire locally, recruiters looked to nearby resource pools, like retired municipal workers.
  • Process: The Rio Olympic HR staff numbers approximately 155.  The HR unit drafts job criteria and Manpower recruits for the positions.  Recruiters use social media and the Talentify ATS, directing applicants to schedule an interview.  Video interviews are conducted and recorded so that Rio HR receives a complete portfolio to enable rapid decision making. Manpower expects to interview approximately 1,000 persons a week throughout an approximately 20-week period.  When HR identifies hires, Manpower handles onboarding.
  • Recruiting challenges: Positions, and the types of individuals needed to fill them, are subject to change. Most applicants must speak Portuguese and English, while high-complexity IT positions may require a global search, rather than a local recruiting effort.

Jim McCoy, the global practice leader at Manpower Group, notes “In a program like this, you have to expect the unexpected. You really need a team that is adept at change management and can move very quickly . . .  . We want recruiters who are very clever in the way they source candidates [and] engage candidates, but also, if we need to change a workflow in a day, there’s no pushback. It’s truly an understanding that this is what we need to do to get the games done and really feel that alignment toward the end goal.”

While you may not be planning to recruit for the next Olympics, The Rio Summer Games are a rich example of staffing for complex objectives, integrating safety and health protocols, and positively managing the interactions of people from diverse cultures and language differences.

Altogether, the Rio Olympics offer a diverse opportunity to learn about structuring human resources to better respond to challenges many organizations are beginning to face on a smaller scale as globalization becomes mainstream.

Whether you are recruiting for your company, or a client planning a world-class event, talk to us at Brightmove for HR solutions that meet your needs.

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