The Olympics are a unique opportunity to win with employees: Ernst & Young

Firm explores ways to deliver on both client expectations and employee excitement

VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - The Olympics present a unique opportunity to connect with employees, says Ernst & Young, and companies who successfully establish a combination of work and play have the most to gain.

"The Games take place during our busiest month of the year, and our ultimate responsibility is to our clients and upholding the same high level of quality service," says Fred Withers, Vancouver-based Managing Partner for Ernst & Young in Western Canada. "At the same time, we want to ensure our employees have the chance to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we've committed to helping them do just that."

Employees will be responsible for the same output, but with an increased opportunity to work flexible hours, and access to a variety of firm-sponsored initiatives and events.

"This could mean coming in early one day in order to catch an afternoon event like freestyle skiing or hockey, or working from home if you live in an area that will be affected by the anticipated heavier traffic," says Withers.

To make the commute easier on employees, the firm has shifted office hours in Vancouver from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This will not only allow employees to commute to and from work during lighter traffic times, it will also enable them to get out early and experience the excitement.

One of the larger undertakings the firm has committed to is setting up Olympic viewing areas in all of the offices across Canada. In Vancouver, the space will include a big-screen TV, furniture to lounge on, as well as work stations and light food and beverages throughout the two-week duration.

"These viewing areas are a place where our employees can connect, take a break from work to catch an anticipated game or some of the day's highlights," says Withers.

Employees in Vancouver will gather in the viewing area, dubbed "EY House," to cheer on Team Canada in several scheduled hockey games and other events. Employees will compete on the Nintendo Wii in winter sports, including determining who has the best downhill ski time.

A daily newsletter emailed to employees will serve two functions: outlining important housekeeping items like transit updates and security, while engaging them in the excitement by listing the day's events and Canadian athletes to cheer for.

National initiatives include generating employee support behind the Canadian National Freestyle Ski Team - sending them virtual "cheers" and words of encouragement through a blog site.

"We've been a proud sponsor of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association since 2007," says Withers, "Our people have gotten to know these athletes and really stand behind them as a team."

In addition to national employee contests, local offices will be implementing their own initiatives. In Vancouver, employees will be rewarded for parking their cars at home and switching to transit, or choosing to walk or ride their bikes during the two-week period of the Games. The office will also hold a fundraising contest with net proceeds going to the Canadian Olympic Foundation.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 144,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit ey.com/ca.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients.

The Ernst & Young organization is divided into five geographic areas and firms may be members of the following entities: Ernst & Young Americas LLC, Ernst & Young EMEIA Limited, Ernst & Young Far East Area Limited and Ernst & Young Oceania Limited. These entities do not provide services to clients.

SOURCE EY (Ernst & Young)

For further information: For further information: Brooke Morris, brooke.morris@ca.ey.com, (604) 899-3597


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