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Unfair criticism of G4S?

Author : Tim Fryer, Editor

29 August 2012

Olympic fever is being prolonged by the start (today as I write) of the Paralympics, and so the main event is still very much in our thoughts. But will the legacy be any more than some gold medal memories?

Of course it will. And starting with a negative, G4S have been thrust into the limelight once more as it has published half-year results showing its Olympic hangover will cost them £50m. The company has been able to ride these losses with a half-year profit of £61m, so from a business perspective they are not exactly on their knees, but clearly the loss of reputation is going to be the problem going forward.

I doubt there will be any forgiveness in the press or the minds of the general public for them, but fortunately for G4S the people who will employ their services in the future will be able to look at the position that G4S found themselves at the Olympics. They will be able to understand that the service it provided turned out not to be as bad as the headlines would have had us believe two weeks before the event.

It clearly wasn’t good enough, and I am no apologist for G4S, but the added role that the police and army took in filling the gaps was as admirable as the rest of the Games. And this throws up what I maintain is an unfortunate double standard. We are happy to name and shame G4S and give them a good kicking in the press, and yet this represented, as it happily turned out, to be no more than an organisational blip in terms of the Games as a whole. The rest of the event was fantastic. The people and the companies who made it happen were a credit to themselves and the nation.

But who were they?

We are still not allowed to talk about these companies for fear of upsetting the sponsors and yet surely they deserve as positive a press as G4S received a negative one. The condition of the park and the venues, the quality of the food and the most of all the good nature of everyone involved were exemplary – and of course the behind the scenes FM services, hidden from public view, we also assume went without a hitch. Isn’t it a shame that this aspect of ‘best of British’ cannot be celebrated alongside our haul of medals and courageous performances?

Along these lines I am endeavouring to compile a photographic tribute to those who worked at the site – see ‘Did you go to the Olympics’ for more details on how to contribute.

Another related story I picked up on in this weeks FM Report came from Global Action, and described how businesses could make long term organisational adjustments based on their Olympic experiences. I was certainly one of the people surprised at how easy it was to get around London during the Games – even the novelty of getting a seat on the Tube! It could be that the Olympics has a genuine legacy of educating both employees and employers into the benefits of more flexible ways of working. Only time will tell.

Promise it’s the last time I roll out the picture of me with the Torch!


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