Employee Recognition Olympians 2

The 2014 Winter Olympics just wrapped up in Sochi, Russia, and by all accounts it seems to have been a very successful competition among world-class athletes. The Winter and Summer Olympics are simply amazing to watch. To see all of the countries together, sending their very best to compete on the world’s biggest stage for gold, silver, and bronze medals, brings out the best in all of us. As a fan, it’s inspiring to watch these amazing athletes put their hearts, souls, and sometimes lives on the line for their countries. The individual stories are all so compelling, and we learn so much about the sacrifices they make to be Olympians. It’s all very similar to what your employees go through for a chance to work for you.

Consider this: these athletes train hard just to get the chance to represent their country and families in the Olympic Games. Day in and day out, they eat, drink, and sleep “Olympics,” in order to be in the very best condition to win the chance to participate. And then it all comes down to one moment in time.

Now, think about your employees—don’t they do the same thing? Some do. Some actually train and learn for years in college or the military, in preparation to compete in the ultra-competitive job market. And then it all comes down to one moment in time: the interview. They just want the chance to be able to work for your organization and represent you.

I think it was in 2008 that I first heard the phrase “skills gap.” If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a phrase some employers use to describe the lack of talented applicants seeking employment. Back then, we were in the midst of a global recession, and many said that there were jobs available but there weren’t enough qualified candidates. Thus, the idea of the skills gap was born.

Since that time, it appears that many job seekers have decided to train hard and develop the necessary skills to be considered top talent. In the Olympics, participating athletes are the best their countries have to offer–they are the top talent. They’ve earned that title through hard work and dedication, just as your employees have earned their titles and the opportunity to work for you.

Every company should have its own set of internal Olympians, those employees who represent the best of the organization’s brand and culture through their achievements, and who can serve as an inspiration for others. Oftentimes, Olympic athletes are not in the spotlight once the closing ceremony ends. Many of them are forgotten until the next Olympic Games. And that’s okay, because most of them are not attention seekers–in fact they are some of the most selfless people on the planet. Everything they do is for pride, love, and country.

So how about it? Do you have any Olympic-caliber talent in your company? Any employees you’d want to represent you in a corporate competition? Any that inspire greatness and motivate others to be their best? If not, you should examine your hiring processes and make the necessary adjustments. And if so, be sure to reward your “Organizational Olympians” –maybe with some gold.


  • Brittany Murphy says:

    Job competition is so tough nowadays that candidates study and work flat out in order to become the best and get the desired position. It plays into the hands of HR professionals as more and more highly qualified candidates appear, but the choice is not becoming easier – it’s quite easy to pick one good candidate from the pool of mediocre ones, but nowadays a rich selection of candidates makes HR’s head spinning. It’s always like that with embarrassment of riches.

  • Bob Blooman says:

    I think every company should pay attention to nurturing Olympic level employees, employees who will be not only perfect performers but also could represent company’s brand. Such goal definitely requires well thought succession plans and turnover control, because we wouldn’t want someone new and inexperienced represent the company in corporate competition, but rather someone who has his heart and soul in the company and know it in and out.

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