Grad student focused on major games employees

While most people keep a watchful eye on the athletes at major sporting competitions, Lindsay Smith instead has her sights set on those working behind the scenes.

The Brock graduate student is delving deep into employees who work at international multi-sport events, such as the Olympics, Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games.

It’s an area she has firsthand knowledge in, having worked at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa after graduating from Brock’s Sport Management program in 2015.

She travelled to the Pacific island nation as part of a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship program.

Smith’s time with the international multi-sport competition, held over two weeks in Samoa’s capital of Apia, was eye opening.

Being part of that niche workforce gave her insight into employment within the major games industry and into the vital role employees play in the organization and operation of the international events.

Smith’s experience at the Commonwealth Youth Games now frames her research direction as a Master of Arts student under the supervision of Professor Kirsty Spence.

She is in the early stages of a study to better understand the impact of leadership on the development of employees’ perceived workplace fulfillment in the major games industry.

Smith’s work experience, which also includes the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, “significantly influenced her decision to more deeply explore the relationship between leadership and its impact on employees’ workplace fulfillment through her Graduate thesis project,” Spence said.

“We are certainly looking forward to the managerial and theoretical implications from her study.”

Major games are “extremely high intensity and are prone to change with little to no notice given to its employees,” Smith said.  

“After being exposed to the workings of major games myself, I became interested in exploring how employees feel when there is so much chaos in their jobs and how different leadership styles can impact them in these situations.”

The impact of Smith’s research is rooted in discovering the experience that major games employees have at work.

She aims to learn whether employee needs can be met in a broader sense, where meaning developed at work transcends the workplace, also nourishing their personal lives.

Smith also hopes to discover whether this is important to employees’ lives both inside and outside of the work context.

“Researchers rarely focus on leadership, human resources and employee relations topics within the major games context, which means that this exploratory study has the potential to open the door to many more questions and improvements in the major games industry,” Smith said.

Major games leaders will benefit from Smith’s research as it seeks to provide increased insight into the potential needs of employees. Additionally, her research may have direct implications to sport organizations and major games events, as employees who experience workplace fulfillment are said to be more productive — a factor that contributes to overall organizational productivity and success.

Smith will soon begin her research by conducting interviews with major games sport managers who have been involved with past or current events.

Participants will have relevant insight into the major games working environment and the role that leaders play in the development of employee fulfillment in such a unique working context.

In May, Smith will be presenting her research at the Canadian Congress on Leisure Research (CCLR) conference in Waterloo and the North American Society of Sport Management (NASSM) conference in Denver, Colo.

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