Preparing for the New Normal – How accommodation providers in France are rethinking and adapting their services and what can we learn from this?

Paul Dobson, Senior LEcturer,Staffordshire Business School


It’s been a challenging, confusing and worrying time for most industries during this current Coronavirus Crisis. But the hospitality sector in particular stands to be one of the hardest hit as it struggles to contemplate how it can continue to trade successfully keeping social distancing in mind, coupled with a rapidly shrinking economy.  As part of Staffordshire Business School’s support to organisations I’ve been supporting the local and international hospitality sector and as the French businesses are ahead of us in coming out of lockdown I’ve noted some points to help prepare UK organisations.

After 2 months enduring some of the strictest lockdown controls in Europe, France is slowly opening up its economy and society. And the vast, hugely varied accommodation sector, which historically welcomes visitors across the world, is undergoing a rapid and radical revolution to ensure it can continue to attract customers in these unprecedented times.

The newly forced need to keep distance and natural sense of personal safety has fallen well into the hands of some of the self-catering sector. Private homes and villas, especially those that can offer generous outside space as well as little or no contact with others, have seen a huge demand since the 11th of May when the French Prime Minister officially declared that travel up to 100km was now permitted. The public, who have been largely “imprisoned” with massively limited scope to be outside their own homes since the middle of March inevitably have an overwhelming desire for a change of scenery. However, this is not a universal permission and policy, and restricted zones still exist across France, and indeed many local governments, even in the less-infected “green regions” are enforcing the continuation of heavy trading restrictions and forced closures of accommodation providers. But where these rules do not apply, the flood gates have opened and demand, all from customers within the 100km radius, has been significant. Also worthy of note is that the average length of stay has seen a dramatic increase for this time of year.

That’s not to say that this is return to normal times for these accommodation owners. French hospitality organisations have had a massive increase in questions about sanitation, personal responsibility and uniform industry standards on cleanliness and contact that the UK accommodation businesses will need to be prepared for when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. As of today, these restrictions haven’t been totally clarified in France, and only “best practice” guides from local tourism authorities exist online. Some of the leading booking platforms and websites for this sub sector are advising “safety gaps” between customers of, for example, 24 hours to allow any surfaces to become less likely to cross contaminate in the future. What is apparent from discussions with French hospitality businesses is that there is an increased desire for customers to have  “direct online contact” with the service rather than through  online booking platforms.  This could be a welcome shift in attitude as this not only allows peace of mind for the customer, but also less commissions for the business owner to pay to the booking platforms which have come under much public criticism and scrutiny of late because of their high charges. One of the French businesses I’ve talked to has had an 800% increase in Facebook messages, their analytics has shown an increase in both mobile and desktop visitors to their website and the number of emails has increased by over 200% compared to last year.

The B&B (Chambres d’hote) and Hotel sector have reported an uphill challenge. With a mix of different guests under their roofs, all with potentially varying attitudes to respecting the new government guidelines, this poses a significant threat to their short- and medium-term existence. However, those that can offer genuine space, especially outside, have a clear advantage over those that cannot. Going from one restrictive box to another isn’t likely to be a great draw for the new discerning needs of the Covid-19 era traveller.  Forced confinement has brought about a new desire to be out and about in nature, and burn off all those excessive calories consumed since March.

But with the high season fast approaching during which these businesses would traditionally run at maximum occupancy, the reality is that these organisations will be forced to not only give “buffers” in between guests checking out and the next ones checking in, but also run at a lower occupancy to ensure that interaction between different customers is minimized. Therefore “Making Hay whilst the sun shines” will this year inevitably bring about a lower yield, and reduce the vital cashflow which sustains many of these businesses during the quieter months. 

An example of changes implemented is the hotelier Tim Bell and Ingrid Boyer in the Auvergne region of Central France. Tim has developed their website to include a link to their Covid-19 guidance on their home page (see https://chabanettes.com/). This is updated on a regular basis and outlines their commitment to client’s safety.  He implements rapid alterations to its usual offerings and has created the foundations for business continuity and customer confidence.  He has also set up a Facebook forum for like minded accommodation owners in Europe seeking support and advice. Tim collates industry data, statistics and best practice ideas from all over the accommodation sector and share his opinions and advice with the group.

The sector in which he operates is having to rethink more radically about its traditional services to ensure competitivity and customer confidence. This ranges from the provision of catering which is leaning initially more towards a “Room Service” culture to a complete overhaul of the check-in/check-out customer touch points, looking to technology and globally recognised physical safety barriers to reduce risk of viral spread. For an industry which relies heavily on close, personal contact for their reputation and overall experience, keeping a balance between customer satisfaction and safety is proving challenging, but not impossible. Clients now expect a more sterile and distanced world, with supermarkets leading the way in some innovation and rethinking of the customer journey that the hotels are learning from, such as one-way corridors.

Until the world is safely vaccinated against the virus, the accommodation industry will have to adapt quickly and radically to guidelines, legislation and customer fears. History has told us that businesses that do this will have the best chance of survival, and those that don’t not only fear a downturn in business, but also a very visible online reputation for ignoring what is now the number one priority for the 2020 traveller – Safety.

Staffordshire Business School – Research Profile

About Us

Staffordshire Business School aspires to be a leader in making a real impact on business and society through collaborative research and innovation. Our team of academics have successfully delivered many industry/business and government funded research projects and have extensive experience of leading large team projects including local, UK, EU and internationally funded projects. 

Many of our team members combine rich industry and practitioner experience with academic rigour in conducting world-leading research and generating social and economic impacts in a wide range of areas and fields. Our expertise includes but is not limited to the following research streams and clusters:

Business and Management

  • Human Resources Management
  • Labour Market, Employment Relations and Migration
  • Organisational Change and Development
  • Public Sector Management
  • Leadership and Management Learning
  • Corporate Governance and Firm Performance
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • International Business and International Management
  • Place Marketing and Branding
  • Consumer Behaviour and Health Marketing
  • SME Innovation
  • Merger and Acquisition
  • Strategic Management and Leadership
  • Financial Management
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • LGBT Tourism and Family Tourism

Digital Transformation and Innovation

  • Digital business strategy
  • Digital marketing and social media
  • Esports business and management
  • Digital technology diffusion in the financial sector
  • Digital entrepreneurship

Smart Cities/Communities/Urban and Regional Development

  • Smart cities strategy
  • Analysis and Evaluation of Public Policy on Urban Development (i.e. health; social care; urban education)
  • Place Leadership
  • Welfare reform
  • Community engagement and social inclusion
  • Environmental issues and sustainability

Postgraduate Research

Our academics conduct empirical research and are actively publishing across a range of disciplines.  As such they have a long history and a successful track record of research supervision at both MPhil and Doctoral levels. We are excited to welcome you to join our postgraduate research student community.

To find out more about our team and their scholarly expertise, please visit: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/academic_depts/business/people/

Contact Us

For partnership and collaboration with us in industry-oriented projects in both public and private sectors, please contact Professor Fang Zhao – Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

For enquiries about our MPhil or PhD program, please contact:

Staffordshire University Graduate School at graduateschool@staffs.ac.uk.

Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


It’s that time of the year when it’s my turn again to write a blog for the Staffordshire Business School. So, I have pondered and contemplated and deliberated on what to write and have decided to continue with the theme from last year on sharing some thoughts from working in the corporate world.

Dr Bharati Singh

For this blog, I will dwell on gender diversity. Albeit, a narrow range consisting of pay gap and equal opportunities. While I have not personally experienced any gender discrimination with regards to pay and feel that I have been treated fairly in all my various jobs and roles with the various companies that I have worked with; I am aware that this is an ongoing issue and all the companies that I have previously worked for had a gender diversity forum.

Recently, I saw a video that was advertised by one of my previous employers. It showed young girls talking about their career aspirations. There was joy in their voices. However, when they were told that men in the workplace get paid more than women, the pictures captured of these girls showed confusion, anger, bewilderment.

A 2018 report by McKinsey (a consulting firm) states that companies do not walk the talk on gender diversity. While there are more women graduates than men who are negotiating their pay and promotions, while at the same time still in the same work as men, this is not translating into equal woman representation at higher levels of the corporate chain.

It is not only in the corporate world that the pay gap between the genders is high but also in the world of sports. Serena Williams, a US tennis player and winner of 23 grand slams, had spoken out on this matter more than a decade ago which finally led to Wimbledon being last on the block of grand slams to equalise the gap in 2007. However, the gap remains across other sports. Some argue that this is because women sports earn less money, but this was not the case with women’s soccer, which has led the US women’s soccer team filing a gender discrimination lawsuit.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 22: Serena Williams speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley at San Jose McEnery Convention Center on February 22, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage)

Globally, there remains a 32% gender gap as per a 2018 report by the World Economic Forum. It states that the progress towards closing this gap is rather slow with more countries regressing rather than progressing. The countries with the highest parity are the Nordic countries. They can do so due to the explicit support of policymakers towards gender equality in all public and private aspects. Hence, for countries to remain competitive and inclusive, policymakers will require gender equality to become critical to a nation states human capital development.

A 2019 research report in HBR confirmed that higher gender diversity leads to more productivity in firms in relation to market value and revenue. However, countries which did have liberal policies towards childcare and parental assistance, such as Japan, still do not benefit due to stiffly patriarchal work cultures. Another research by Australian Government states that a more inclusive environment helps retain employees. 

What is needed is a monumental shift in thinking as to why gender diversity is important. Just a few companies or a few countries cannot help the cause; the requirement is a cultural change. Where women make almost 50% of the world population, it is imperative to recognise gender diversity as a need of the hour towards enhancing organisation performance and attracting and retaining top talent. 

Click below to learn more about the courses we offer at Staffordshire Business School:

Hult Prize 2020 – Save Our Planet by Student Entrepreneurship

The Hult Prize returns in 2020 and we’re on the hunt for students across Staffordshire University to enter as teams in this year’s competition ahead of the closing date on Tuesday 3 December 2019.

The Hult Prize is both the world’s largest student enterprise competition and the world’s largest movement for social impact. Students from universities around the globe compete to win $1,000,000 in start-up funding to start a business that solves a pressing social issue.

For 2020, the Hult Prize challenges teams from universities globally to build bold businesses that:

 1. Have a positive net impact on the environment with every sale completed, dollar earned, and decision made; and

 2. Reach no fewer than a million consumers within a decade.

Hult Prize 2020 Challenge

This year’s business challenge concerns climate change and is our chance to show the world that our institution is dedicated to Impact. There are many benefits of competing apart from the chance to win the $1,000,000 in start-up funding. 

Students will get to hone their business skills, develop exciting business ideas, engage with fellow students from every part of our planet, and represent the university at a global level.

They will compete across hundreds of cities en-route to regional finals and the summer Hult Prize Accelerator. A final round and awards ceremony is hosted by Former President Bill Clinton each year at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.

Staffordshire University Students with Other International Students at the Regional Finals in London, 2019.

How do you compete in the Hult Prize at Staffordshire University?

All students need to do is develop an idea and form a team. 

Each team (of between three to four students) should fill the form here and click the submit button.

This will qualify them for our on-campus event which takes place on Wednesday 4 December at LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road). At the event each team will get ten minutes to pitch their idea to our judges and will go through five minutes of questioning.

Where can I get more information or register for the Hult Prize 2020?

Visit the Staffs Uni page on the Hult Prize website to register teams and/or to contact Tolu Olarewaju our University Hult Prize Campus Director.

Important Dates:

Friday 29 November 2019:
Q&A Session at LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road) – 2 pm.

Tuesday 3 December 2019:
Team Registration Deadline – 6 pm. All teams must register here.

Wednesday 4 December 2019: The Main Event On-Campus Team Business Idea Pitches.
Venue: LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road) – 11 am to 1 pm.

All students and members of staff are welcome to watch the business idea pitches.

The power of branding #racetowin 2019

Prof. Vish maheshwari, Associate dean and professor of marketing


It is that time of the year again when festivities are in full swing for the imminent arrival of Christmas. There is a special feeling around mostly ‘merry’ but with a touch of somewhat uncertainty about few other developments that I would like to avoid discussing on this occasion!!

However, concentrating on the interesting #racetowin approach from most retailers to acquire as much customer interest, awareness and conviction (in the form of business), it is fascinating to see and experience how power of branding and varied marketing communication strategy is put in action.

From emotion to cognition, symbolic to functional and logical, social to societal aspects, but all with a touch of empathy, being crafted by retailers to connect with their customers at the time of this wonderful festive season. Below are some of the examples to understand application and delivery of brand essence through impactful storytelling:

McDonalds’ Christmas advert portrays close bond between Archie the imaginative reindeer and a young girl called Ellie, displaying the love and togetherness for families.

(Image: McDonald’s)

As usual much awaited each year, John Lewis (and Waitrose) advert this time aims at combining the sense of joy, love, compassion, excitement and friendship between a little girl Ava and a young dragon called Edgar.

(Image: John Lewis & Partners/PA)

Whereas, Boots have focused its advert around practicalities and struggle to find the right gift for your loved ones and is part of its wider festive campaign ‘Gift Like You Get Them’. This is alongside the launch of its new and creative approach through developing various personas to find perfect gifts using curated edits online called Boots ‘Boutique’ covering both offline and online platforms.

On the other hand, the online retailer Very.co.uk has focused its Christmas campaign around important aspect of community spirit promoting a powerful message of social responsibility and sharing the joyfulness of festivities by ‘act of giving’ and collectiveness.


Finally, it’s the return of Amazon’s singing boxes again for third year in a row but with a better emotional touch where the delivery of Christmas gifts through these boxes claim to play an important part in bringing smiles for your loved ones and create wonderful festive memories.

The examples above demonstrates that the concept of delivering brand essence and identity through meaningful interactions. Using relevant messages helps in connecting with customers through different attributes across all channels of integrated marketing communication. It also develops a recognisable brand image for recollection and reconnection with a positive impact and assured conviction during ‘selection/choice making’ stage as part of buying behaviour process. It reinforces the power of brand and branding that goes beyond mere physical and experiential attributes of a product or service.

To end – it is important to assert what philosopher Stephen King once stated that ‘products can be quickly outdated but a successful brand is timeless’


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Global Business Directions Conference 2019

Thursday February 7th 2019 – Location Ashley LT002, Leek Road Campus, Staffordshire University

Organisers: Hazel Squire and  Prof Jon Fairburn

Free – all welcome

Programme

9.00 Networking
9.30 Welcome and introductions  Hazel Squire and Prof Jon Fairburn
9.40 Key note speaker – Andrew Stephenson, Group People Director at Lookers plc

‘Building a customer centric organisation in the digital age’ 

10.30  Break

10.40 Salman Hamid, Director of Development at GMP Drivercare.com 

 ‘The technological aspect of today’s business’

11.30 Break

11.40  Tony Evans, Head of Leonardo and Analytics, SAP

“Digital transformation and the intelligent enterprise”

12.30 Lunchtime
 13.30 Jeanefer Jean-Charles, Creative Director  www.jeanefer.com

‘Keeping your business moving’ 

14.20 Break
14.40 Vanessa Oakes, Staffordshire Business School

‘Digital technology and new employment experiences’

15.30 Closing remarks

 

Speaker profiles

Andrew Stephenson

Andrew Stephenson

Andrew Stephenson has been the Group People Director at Lookers, one of the UK’s largest automotive dealer groups since May 2016.  Reporting to the CEO; Andrew is responsible for the HR function and people agenda for over 8,500 employees across areas in the UK and Ireland.  Andrew also leads the IT function and is responsible for customer experience across the companies 31 franchised manufacturer brands.

Andrews’ team have driven an improved customer experience through instore insight and a new online proposition.  This has been underpinned by the introduction of comprehensive monitoring of customer experience.  This independent monitoring ensures much better outcomes for customers in all circumstances and provides statistically valid measurement of customer satisfaction.  The performance on customer experience now directly links to remuneration within the group.  Andrew’s team are also responsible for the delivery of the company’s new website to support omni-channel focus on customers.  Lookers are one of the Sunday Times Top 25 Big Companies to work for in the UK and have twice featured in the Glassdoor and CMI list of the Most Inspirational workplaces.

Andrew is a Level 8 student currently completing his DBA at Staffordshire University with a study into customer loyalty. Andrew holds a MA in Strategic HRM also from Staffordshire University, is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a Chartered Manager and Fellow of the CMI and a Fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry.  Andrew is also a Trustee of the national body of Citizens Advice, chairing their remuneration committee and an independent advisor to the Customer Experience Committee of HMRC.

 

Salman Hamid

Salman Hamid

Salman Hamid is a Director of Development at GMP Drivercare Limited, where Salman develops and implement Digital Technologies including bespoke systems, online automotive portal with a capability of getting live prices (APIs) and AI Technologies. GMP Drivercare helps Public and Corporate Sector organisations in Fleet Management, Grey Fleet Compliance, Telematics, Lease Car Schemes, Salary Sacrifice Schemes and more (A One stop shop).

Salman is a Staffordshire University and University of Roehampton Alumni, BSc Hons in Business Information Technology from Staffordshire University, MSc Information Systems Management from University of Roehampton and MSc Digital Marketing from Staffordshire University.

 

Tony Evans

Tony Evans

As Head of Leonardo and Analytics, Tony Evans is responsible for enabling customers to leverage SAP’s innovation portfolio, to drive business transformation and operational improvement. As the executive sponsor for SAP Machine Learning and Cloud customer adoption, Tony partners with customer executive teams to promote SAP’s next generation computing platform.

Since joining SAP, Tony has led SAP’s billion dollar North American Database business and has managed the North American financial services business as the Chief Operating Officer.

Prior to SAP, Tony has a successful track record in driving Business Process Reengineering and change management for global organisations, including PepsiCo, Lucent Technologies and IXNet. Tony has also held senior leadership positions across Oracle, BlackBerry and SAP, where he has led organisation of sales, technical and marketing professionals, driving revenue growth through partnership with customers.

Tony is an alumni of Staffordshire University, where he graduated with BA (Hons) in Business Studies and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. Tony has an MBA in Change Management from the University of Brighton and is a qualified Project Manager with the Project Management Institute, an organisation he sat on the board of in NYC, and represented in the Global Project Management Forum. Tony also sits on the board of a successful startup, CrowdFlik where he partners with, and advises the CEO around business strategy.

Jeanefer Jean-Charles

Jeanefer Jean-Charles

Jeanefer Jean-Charles career began working across theatre, dance, television and film, including Co-Artistic Director of her company Bullies Ballerinas Jazz Productions, touring nationally and internationally. Her work has taken her to over 20 countries.

Today she is the Creative Director of Jeanefer Jean-Charles and Associates, with over 20 years’ experience of devising, creating, facilitating and directing dance and movement for performance.

As a Mass Movement Director and Choreographer of large scale performances, opening ceremonies, stadium events, outdoor spectacles, carnivals and parades, the success of her work is in her unique process of empowering and skilling up teams of artists, whilst bringing together the talents, strengths and shared stories of communities in inspiring and unforgettable ways.

Career highlights include: Mass Movement Director for Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected 2016, Choreographer for the award winning The Return of Colmcille, Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013, Mass Movement Choreographer for the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace, Mass Movement Coordinator for all four of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, Movement Director for The FA Cup Final 2016 Opening Ceremony at Wembley, Artistic Director for The Rugby League World Cup Opening Ceremony in 2013.

Vanessa Oakes

Vanessa Oakes

Vanessa Oakes is a Human Resources and Leadership & Development professional with extensive industry experience including 10 years as Head of HR at an international Environmental and Engineering consultancy and 6 years as a lecturer on the CIPD’s professional HRM programmes.

Vanessa brings a wealth of experience in how digital technology will affect your experience as a candidate looking for a job, to how it will affect you in your future employment.

She has worked with Social Media tools to approach passive candidates for opportunities within her organisation, she has implemented Applicant Tracking Systems which monitor the status of applications, she has worked with online tools which recorded attendance and monitored productivity and performance and software which measures and records employee engagement. These digital tools provided essential data which allowed managers to better manage their teams, improving the overall performance of the organisation.

She will give you a clearer understanding of how digital technology will become a key part of your employment experience.

Harnessing the power of social media for small businesses

Written by June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Chartered Marketer and Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


If you only have a small marketing budget, social media can seem like an ideal way to promote your product or service. Twenty years ago marketers could only dream of having access to such a huge audience so quickly.  However, where does one start?

Here are just four suggestions that could help you get more out of that limited budget:

Know your audience – it’s so obvious, but it’s really easy to make the simple mistake of taking your eye off the ball when it comes to ensuring your communication channels and messages are targeted at the appropriate audience(s).  We can get carried away by all the opportunities open to us that we forget what the purpose of engaging with social media actually was!  For example, why use Facebook if you’re primarily targeting a business-to-business audience?  (Sometimes, there’s good reason to do so, but you need to know why).  Spend time to make sure you know who your intended target audience is and what the key message is that you want to communicate with them.  Only then can you identify and choose the communication methods which best fit your message and audience.

Know your limitations – basically, don’t try to do too much!  Social media may seem very low cost compared to other forms of advertising or sales promotion, but there is still the cost of your time to factor in, at the very least.  It’s also very content hungry and if you commit, say, to writing a daily blog or tweeting several times a day, you may find you crash very soon.  Take note of what other businesses your size manage to do and try, where possible, to plan out your messages in advance.

Know how to create synergy – try to use the same or similar content more than once if you can. So, if you write a blog or post something on LinkedIn, can you direct people to it via Twitter? Could you use the copy for some promotional material or a newsletter? When you put something on YouTube, how can you maximise its use? It’s pretty obvious, but not everyone does it. Encourage customers and staff to send in stories which you can promote. I’ve found that people get a buzz from seeing something they’ve submitted being used or published and it creates a virtuous circle and they submit more material….

And, finally, think of ways you can work with others to create mutual benefit. A while back, I did an interview for a friend who was looking to increase traffic to her website via YouTube. As a result, I also sent links to my contact to her webpage and used the content of the interview to develop this blog. We both benefited and had some fun doing it.

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Is there a panacea for low productivity ?

By Ema Talam   on twitter as @ematalam

Productivity differences between different producers exist and persist, even among those operating within the same industries (Syverson, 2011; Van Reenen, 2011). Achieving higher productivity is of an utmost importance for firms as it leads to better firm performance and leads to increased profits. These increased profits can be used for future investment and wage rises.  The panacea for low productivity is often sought, however, the factors determining productivity are numerous, differing in their scope, level of influence and complexity.

One of the factors determining productivity is innovation. While some studies establish that innovation in general is positively linked with productivity (Movahedi et al., 2017), some limit this link to product innovation (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011). Porter (1990) argues that firms often have no choice but to innovate, as they face competitive pressures coming from their buyers or competitors.

The productivity of a firm may be determined by talents and practices of its managers. Bloom and Van Reenen (2010) have shown that firms that employ better management have higher labour productivity. Management practices differ widely both among different firms and different countries. They are influenced by numerous factors, some of them being: product market competition, labour market regulations, relationship between ownership and management of a firm, education of managers and workers, etc. (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2010).

Quality of inputs is another factor that determines productivity. Rather than clinging on basic resources (or lack of those), it can be argued that productivity is mainly determined by superiority of labour and capital inputs (Porter, 1990; Syverson, 2011). Education, training and experience can all affect quality of labour inputs. Quality differences of capital inputs can influence productivity (Syverson, 2011). The lack of basic resources can push firms to innovate and improve (Porter, 1990). It has been shown that differences in intangible capital and IT can also affect productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Another significant factor that can influence productivity are different decisions regarding the organisation and structure of a firm. Different process improvements through learning-by-doing can also influence productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Productivity spillovers and competition are important external determinants of productivity of a firm. Productivity spillovers occur mainly within the same or similar industries. Competition can hugely affect productivity and firms can face competitive pressures from both other domestic and foreign firms (Syverson, 2011).

The theoretically established ‘learning-by-exporting’ hypothesis states that exporting can improve productivity of a firm. On the one hand, a firm participating in an export market is exposed to a larger competition. On the other hand, by participating in an export market, a firm can gain new knowledge from its buyers and competitors (Wagner, 2007). Some empirical research has confirmed this hypothesis (Damijan et al., 2010).

As discussed above, productivity of a firm is influenced by a numerous factors. Some of the above-mentioned factors can be influenced to a greater extent than the others and some of those factors require shorter periods to be adjusted than the others. However, given that there is variety of factors, their complexity and the level of their potential interactions, the question still remains: is there really a panacea for low productivity?

References:

  1. Bloom, N. and Van Reenen, J. (2010) ‘Why do management practices differ across firms and countries’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1), pp. 203-224. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25703489 (Accessed: 24th June 2018)
  2. Cassiman, B. and Golovko, E. (2011) ‘Innovation and internationalization through exports’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1), pp. 56-75. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25790105 (Accessed: 28th March 2018)
  3. Damijan, J.P., Kostevc, C., & Polanec, S. (2010) ‘From innovation to exporting or vice versa?’, The World Economy, 33(3), pp. 374-398. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 24th March 2018)
  4. Movahedi, M., Shahbazi, K., & Gaussens, O. (2017) ‘Innovation and willingness to export: Is there an effect of conscious self-selection?’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 11(25), pp. 1-22. Available at: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/journalarticles/2017-25 (Accessed: 1st May 2018)
  5. Porter, M. (1990) ‘The competitive advantage of nations’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1990/03/the-competitive-advantage-of-nations (Accessed: 4th June 2018)
  6. Syverson, C. (2011) ‘What determines productivity?’, Journal of Economic Literature, 49(2), pp. 326-365. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/23071619 (Accessed: 30th April 2018)
  7. Van Reenen, J. (2011) ‘Does competition raise productivity through improving management quality’, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, 29(3), pp. 306-316. Available at: https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/S0167718711000208/1-s2.0-S0167718711000208-main.pdf?_tid=48b828f4-40fc-4fad-a130-5cec9cbc83ab&acdnat=1530139607_684e48c04c59ac476baa4ece54f7c606 (Accessed: 22nd June 2018)
  8. Wagner, J. (2007) ‘Exports and productivity: A survey of the evidence from firm-level data’, The World Economy, 30(1), pp. 60-82. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 16th April 2018)

 

 

Work and well-being for the over 50s – Silver workers event 5th July

We have a free event on 5th July at Staffordshire University as part of the Silver Workers project to support over 50s looking to get back into work or start their own enterprise. There is still time to join the project.

A programme and registration can be found on this link

Speaker bios

Debbie Assinder – West Midlands Enterprise Champion

Debbie is a SFEDI/ILM Gold Accredited Business Adviser.  She has delivered business startup advice for 20 years +across the region becoming the Enterprise Champion for the West Midlands in 2015.

Debbie Assinder

Debbie Assinder

Highlights in her career include working on Birmingham City Council’s £4.2 million Enterprise Catalyst Programme, delivering on the PRIME (Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise) startup support programme for the 50+, working as an Associate for Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on their national Start and Grow programme and delivering on behalf of Barclay’s Bank their “Get Ready for Business” and “Let’s Start a Business”.

Currently contracted by Innovation Birmingham on their Serendip Digital Incubation programme. Also working with Enterprise Nation, extending early-stage support to the growing number of new owner/operated businesses across the UK. Delivering workshops and events as well as providing a much-needed campaigning voice for the startup business community.

Austin Knott – Walk the Moorlands

Austin Knott; after 32 years in local government and building on his experience as a local walk leader and hillwalking representative for the British Mountaineering Council, Austin has set up ‘Walk the Moorlands’ to share his love of the hills and moors in the south west Peak District and Staffordshire Moorlands.

Participant in the Silver Worker project and who is starting his own business Walk the Moorlands.

Participant in the Silver Worker project and who is starting his own business Walk the Moorlands.

Lesley Foulkes

Lesley Foulkes studied at Staffordshire University as a mature student.  Following successfully completing her post graduate diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling she worked as a Specialist Mentor at the university until December 2017 and is an accredited member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

Lesley Foulkes is a participant in the Silver Workers project and is in the process of setting up her own business Counselling without Walls

Lesley Foulkes is a participant in the Silver Workers project and is in the process of setting up her own business Counselling without Walls

Rebecca Loo and Fiona Uschmann  – Catch the Dream

Rebecca Loo works as an NHS Occupational Therapist with children with disabilities in North Staffs. She is also a health activist, running local and national Orthotics Campaigns (www.orthoticscampaign.org.uk) which press for improvements in the provision of braces and specialist footwear for people with disabilities.

Rebecca Loo of Catch the Dream

Rebecca Loo of Catch the Dream

The daughter of a local business man and having seen the effects of the 1980’s and 1990’s recessions, she vowed never to enter business herself. That was until she heard of how Ebola had shattered the lives of villagers in Lungi Village in West Africa. In May 2017 she and Fiona Uschmann incorporated “Catch the Dream Community Interest Company” (www.catch-the-dream.co.uk). They have been on a steep learning curve ever since as they work with the villagers to help them regain their livelihoods and dignity.

Fiona Uschmann is a PA and HR Manager at a local secondary school in Stoke on Trent. She has been involved in the yearly immersion programmes to Sierra Leone over the past 11 years with groups of sixth formers.

Fiona Uschmann of Catch the Dream

Fiona Uschmann of Catch the Dream

When immersion was unable to take place because of the catastrophic effects of Ebola in West Africa, she decided that she wanted to do more. In May 2017, Fiona and Rebecca Loo started a Community Interest Company called Catch the Dream.  Catch the Dream CIC has been working in partnership with a rural community in Bo, Sierra Leone to help them recover from the loss of their agricultural livelihood by kickstarting their farms again after they were devastated from the Ebola outbreak.

Sandra Butterworth – Business Innovation Centre

Sandra Butterworth is Director of Innovation at the Business Innovation Centre in Staffordshire which was set up in 1995 to encourage and promote Innovation in the region.

Sandra Butterworth

Sandra Butterworth will be taking about support and funding for start up businesses

During her 20 years at the BIC, she has been the Champion for Innovation encouraging everyone connected with the BIC to embrace Innovation which she believes is the way forward for local businesses as statistics show that Innovative businesses outperform their competitors.

Sandra is a SFEDI qualified Business Advisor, Member of the Institute of Business Counselling and Institute of Leadership & Management and helps companies to identify, research, develop and market their innovations. Sandra organises and delivers the BICs Self Development workshops and events on Innovation.

Tony Bickley – Staffordshire University

Tony Is a Chartered Accountant who has been a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire University since 2016.  He has an MBA and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Tony Bickley

Tony Bickley

Prior to working at the University he previously held several managerial roles in the Financial Services industry following his early career in the Accounting profession.

His areas of teaching speciality are Financial Accounting, Taxation and Financial Services.He is a Silver worked himself – has a wife, four children, 3 grandchildren and 3 dogs!

Patricia Roberts 

Patricia has been working for North Staffordshire based Aspire Housing since 2016.  She has played a prevalent role in the development of a new Community Living Service and challenging the way people think, act and talk about Dementia. Patricia’s career spans some fifteen years in both the private and third sector which makes her well placed to meet challenges presented by current welfare reforms and an ageing population.

Patricia Roberts - Older Persons Strategy lead for Aspire Housing

Patricia Roberts – Older Persons Strategy lead for Aspire Housing

Caring by nature she is passionate about collaborating with partner organisations to ensure vulnerable customers are acknowledged and listened to. Volunteering for the Alzheimers Society as a Dementia Champion, she has helped over 500 people become dementia friends and is currently developing a network of champions within we are aspire.

Born and bred in Cambridge Patricia has a keen interest in local faith groups and encouraging people to fulfil their full potential. Patricia lives with her husband in Hill Ridware, and takes great delight in exploring the great outdoors especially if it raises money for the Alzheimer Society.

Hazel Squire

Hazel Squire is a senior lecturer at Staffordshire Business School. She is the award leader for undergraduate business courses and delivers on the `Silver worker` business start up training.

Hazel Squire

Hazel Squire

Having worked in the retail sector Hazel set up and ran her own business before returning to university as a mature student. She is currently undertaking a PHD looking to identify the barriers faced by older people thinking of  setting up their own business.

Contact details: h.squire@staffs.ac.uk Tel: 01782294985 Twitter @hazelsquire

Prof Jon Fairburn – Staffordshire University

Jon Fairburn is Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University. He teaches on the MSc Digital Marketing Management award and established the Business School twitter account @BusinessStaffs which has twice won best Business School account from Edurank.

Prof Jon Fairburn

Prof Jon Fairburn

He has previously worked on the SEE GREEN project (with senior citizens) as well as delivering on the Silver Workers project.

Sign up to the event for free on this link 

Follow the project on this twitter account @silver_workers

 

EU Strategic Partnership project