Once-in-a-lifetime Olympic contract for Leisure Support Services

27th of April 2012

The London 2012 Olympic Games are now just a few months away, but for the cleaning company contracted to work at some of the Games’ many venues preparations are well underway. Aden Duncan is business operations manager at Leisure Support Services and he talks about the company’s drive to recruit up to 900 extra staff in the run-up to the Games this July and August.

The eyes of the world will be on London this summer when the city hosts the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics. The organisers will rely heavily on the skill and experience of the companies contracted to clean at the many venues in helping to ensure every event runs smoothly.

Leisure Support Services has been contracted to clean six Olympic and two Paralympics venues, including London ExCel, Wimbledon, the City of Coventry Stadium, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Earls Court, and Brands Hatch. The company specialises in delivering support services to the sport and leisure market and works in many of the UK’s best known venues – so is used to increasing its number of casual staff to support summer sporting events. However the Olympics will see an increase in workforce numbers by up to 900 people.

Varied demand in scale

Business operations manager Aden Duncan explained what makes a facilities management company like Leisure Support Services different to more conventional cleaning operations. “We specialise in areas where demand in scale fluctuates – it’s all about scale. We may be working at a venue where one day nothing is happening, another day there’s a major event with the Queen attending, then the next day a major sporting meeting. Working in the sport and leisure market is unpredictable and efficient planning is essential.”

The London 2012 contract encompasses all cleaning services in all areas of the venues – public areas and behind the scenes. “We have been planning for this Olympics contract for two years,” added Duncan. “It’s also vital we do contingency planning because we have to expect a change in requirements at any time.”

Some permanent jobs

The company is currently in the process of recruiting between 800 and 900 staff. “Most posts are temporary but there will be some permanent job opportunities. And in fact temporary summer jobs appeal to many people, who are not seeking permanent employment.” London is a large city and Leisure Support Services is sourcing many of its cleaners from within the capital, however it has also been advertising around the UK, through the official Games online recruitment job board powered by Adecco.

“In addition we have used social media, which is extremely useful because word of mouth brings in many new candidates,” Duncan went on. “A huge cross-section of people are applying – we’ve seen students, migrant workers, retired people who would like a job for the summer, and we’ve also worked with local employment programmes. This is an incredibly diverse range of people, but it’s not just a regular cleaning job. We are offering people the opportunity to be involved with a truly exciting event.”

Up to 2,000 interviews are being held to find those 900 people. “Our recruitment process is extremely thorough, and we must also carry out security checks on each successful
candidate,” said Duncan. “What we are looking for in our cleaners is the right attitude, the enthusiasm to be involved in the event. It is not necessary they have experience in the cleaning industry.”

All successful staff will undergo training at the venue where they are working. Most are trained in the general roles they’ll be performing, with some having more detailed instruction if they will be operating cleaning machines for example. “We try to keep the roles flexible in terms of duties, as operatives may have to move around between different areas. Plus, we like to keep them motivated by varying what they do from day to day.”

At each venue the workforce is split between day and night shifts. The day shift keeps the venue running smoothly by making sure consumables in washrooms are refilled regularly, emptying bins and picking up litter. They are also responsible for dealing with emergency spills, etc. Bearing in mind that up to 70,000 people may be passing through the largest venues, this is a highly challenging task in itself.

Deep clean each night

The night crew is then brought in to deep clean every area each night – floors, washrooms, etc. Duncan emphasised the two crews must communicate well and work together during the changeover period. “And the fact some venues are open from 7.00am until midnight means we often have a very limited time window to carry out all the cleaning tasks.”

At the largest Olympic sites there will be up to 200 cleaning staff, contributing to the much wider service operation, Duncan said. “We are just one element, and it’s crucial our cleaning staff work closely with security, catering and first aid teams in order for the whole event to run smoothly.”

He concluded: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us and for our staff. It’s a great chance for us to attract new staff and we’re even seeing interest from people who don’t usually do this type of work, but who are keen to be involved with the Olympics.”



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