As we move through the Government’s Roadmap to ‘normality’ over the next few months, employers will be starting to consider what this may mean for staff returning to office environments. Many staff who have been able to work from home throughout the pandemic have reported increased productivity, better work life balance, saving time and money through the elimination of the commute, as well as many other benefits.
There have been some drawbacks, particularly where staff have had to juggle home-schooling and caring responsibilities, but as these staff become able to return to a normal working routine, it is likely that they will start to experience some of the same benefits as their colleagues
A recent YouGov survey showed that 91% of respondents surveyed who have been able to work from home during the pandemic, want to continue to do so at least some of the time. This pressure from employees (who have proved that they can successfully work from home), should be a catalyst for most organisations to make changes to the levels of flexibility they will allow. If organisations choose not to offer greater levels of flexibility in WHERE staff work, they may see their employees move to a competitor who IS willing this. More and more frequently ‘working from home’ can be found on job advertisements for professionals, allowing these organisations to take advantage of the changing demands of employees, and opening their vacancies to a much wider talent pool, giving them more choice in their chosen candidate.
What the ‘mass working from home experiment’ over the last year has taught us is that everyone in our organisations can benefit from a level of flexibility, and the organisation will benefit in return through higher levels of engagement and commitment. Consider another benefit to increasing flexibility, the ability to truly open vacancies to more diverse candidates, from those with disabilities for whom homeworking would be much easier, to increasing the number of women in the workforce (and in senior roles) through allowing more flexibility around WHEN the work can be done.
One of the main challenges to remote working has been around managing (or monitoring) performance. This link between presence and performance has been prevalent in sectors where a judgement about performance is not based on measurable KPIs, rather about the complexity of work and behaviours demonstrated in performing it. This could provide challenges to organisations who are willing to improve the flexibility which they offer. This raises a series of questions for managers and leaders:
What does ‘good’ work look like? This will be a question that needs to be answered by each manager as they attempt to define what their performance expectations are within the new parameters of work.
Are managers communicating their expectations clearly enough?
Are they making themselves available, but not inserting themselves unnecessarily into the working day of their teams?
And most importantly, are they developing relationships built on trust with each of their team members? It is these relationships that will determine the success of the flexible working strategy and will allow the organisation to take advantage of the many financial and intangible benefits of a flexible workforce for the foreseeable future.
Just as businesses are adapting to the shock of Brexit, the global pandemic presents another disruption to businesses. These two events have created huge uncertainty for most small businesses while some have benefited . The striving small businesses are revaluating their strengths with financial metrics to enhance their sustainability as the new markets are emerging. Financial metrics present small businesses with the opportunities to increase efficiency in their operations, liquidity, profitability and stability during uncertainty period. Some commentators argue that inadequate liquidity is the major reason small businesses collapse during the uncertainty period.
The quick ratio helps the business managers to evaluate their businesses financial liquidity. This informs the business managers of how current assets excluding inventories can be quickly converted to cash to meet their current liabilities. This ignores inventory because it is not easily converted to cash. Unlike the current ratio which considers inventory value, the quick ratio is generally viewed as the conservative evaluation of business liquidity as it’s based on the business most liquid assets. For instance, a business has current assets worth £40,000 of which inventory is £10,000, and £15,000 worth of current liabilities thus the business has a 2:1 quick ratio. This indicates that the business can afford to meet the short-term liabilities twice with the short-term assets.
Businesses with a 1:1 or lower quick ratio could be at risk of becoming a going concern. Thus, small businesses with limited access to funds might fire sale their non-current assets to meet the current liabilities.
Many businesses have already closed due to Brexit and the global pandemic and it has been estimated that a further approximately, 98,000 small businesses might not survive the current pandemic. Thus, small business managers that are currently struggling to survive should pay attention to their financial metrics especially the quick ratio.
Unlike the quick ratio, many commentators argue that the current ratio cannot accurately evaluate some businesses short-term liquidity power. For instance, a retail business that targets seasonal customers will stock up inventory for the season. Thus, toward this period the current ratio rises and fall after the seasonal sales. Hence, the quick ratio would be best to evaluation the liquidity ability of such businesses as it ignores the inventory value.
However, other commentators argue that excluding the inventory value from the current assets could be an inefficient way of evaluating liquidity ability for some businesses. For instance, small business such as corner shops that a large percentage of their current assets are fast-moving inventory. Thus, excluding the inventory from the current asset would relatively inflate the current liability. Hence, the quick ratio will present an inaccurate picture of the business to cover their current liability with their most liquid assets.
In conclusion, business managers need to consider both the quick ratio and current ratio, especially during the uncertainty period. This would provide a more accurate measurement of their business ability to pay their short-term liabilities without being forced to fire sale their non-current asset.
Business managers need to ensure that the quick ratio and current ratio is not too excessive compared to other competitors in their sector as this could indicate poor control of working capital. This might suggest that the business is not turning over its inventory quickly enough or is carrying slow-moving or obsolete inventory and has poor credit control practices resulting in their customers delaying payments beyond the agreed terms.
The British Academy (the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and the social sciences) has tasked us with investigating the specific challenges that UK business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support.
We are also interested in how best to support members of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community.
To participate in our study, kindly fill the survey below and/or please share the URL with your networks if you know any other business owners:
Ethnic minorities were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and US, as in some other countries. In particular, the risk of death for some ethnic minority individuals who contracted COVID-19 in these countries was two to three times more compared to white individuals.
This disparity was a result of the underlying social and economic risk factors that ethnic minorities face, such as living in overcrowded and urban accommodation, being employed in riskier lower-skilled jobs, reduced access to healthcare, and structural racism. In other words, ethnic poverty in developed countries is driving higher infection and consequently death rates for ethnic minorities.
Despite facsimile policies that emphasize equal access to education and employment in many developed countries, discrimination remains a critical barrier to equal employment. Several studies have found that both ethnic minorities are called back for interviews 50% less frequently than comparable whites, hired less often for high-skill jobs, and once hired are paid less. Thus, despite the increasing educational gains made by ethnic minority individuals, many are overqualified for the jobs that they do. Ethnic minority workers also often report not being given pay rises and being passed over for promotion.
Another very important driver for the disproportionately high poverty rates among ethnic minority groups is the concentration of such workers in low-paid work. Ethnic minority workers are more likely to work in low-paid sectors with limited progression opportunities and lower wages. Lack of movement out of low-paid work increases the risk of poverty among ethnic groups. In addition, there is generally a lower percentage of ethnic minority workers who are managers, directors, and senior officials.
Business Ownership Disparities
Before the pandemic, BAME business owners were less likely than non-BAME business owners to obtain mainstream business support and in the early days of coronavirus, nearly two-thirds of BAME business owners felt unable to access state-backed loans and grants, leaving many on the brink of financial ruin.
BAME-owned businesses are traditionally concentrated in the sectors worst hit by lockdown such as retail, health and social care, education, restaurants and accommodation.
The economic crisis facing these businesses is aggravated by the fact that they are more likely to hire a considerable number of BAME employees and attract more BAME customers. The significantly higher risk among such groups from COVID-19 implies that these businesses would have had to incur considerable costs to protect their staff and customers.
Ethnic minorities consistently report reduced access to education, lack of social and financial capital, unemployment, low-pay, and poor progression from low-paid sector work. This suggests similar solutions for all groups, which would lead to better-quality jobs and higher pay. However, given that some of the drivers of poverty, such as higher unemployment and inactivity rates disproportionately affect ethnic groups, specific forms of outreach activity and drawing on local knowledge may be needed in these contexts.
Similarly, government solutions to reduce ethnic poverty in developed country contexts include interventions that ensure that education, training and apprenticeships are provided for ethnic minorities as well as schemes that help tackle low pay among ethnic minority workers. There is a need for policies that focus the on education, skills and training for ethnic groups particularly digital, literacy, and numeracy skills. Moreover, policies should also be encouraged that monitor the workforce in relation to ethnicity, which should include the recruitment, retention and progression phases of jobs.
Authorities need to work with employers to provide better-paid jobs and they should do more to listen to and encourage employers to hire a diverse range of skills and experiences. It is advisable to consider putting targets for ethnic minority representation on boards, something that has proven successful in the case of gender. It is also important to recognise the benefits of positive discrimination in the labour market, rather than view legislation to combat ethnic inequality as red tape or political correctness. Mortgage market discrimination needs to be eliminated as this would allow ethnic minorities to take advantage of the benefits that come with owning a home.
State-backed grants and loans should be made more accessible as an incentive to business owners who have incurred additional costs to protect customers and staff. Crucially, the process to obtain them should not be too onerous and the criteria should be fair. Regional governments should also take care to plug BAME businesses into the supply chains of local projects in response to the pandemic.
All these should reduce ethnic poverty and the economic and health inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.
The coronavirus started in China and
spread to Europe and America in the first quarter of 2020 with a “battle axe” on
businesses. The leadership of the most affected countries have become Santa Claus with their supports to the households and
businesses. Many industries have experienced the offensive side of the coronavirus
battle axe while other industries benefited from the defensive opportunities it
Industries such as Aviation, Road haulage, Ferries, Steel, Horticulture have all taken the pain of the offensive side of the battle axe. For instance, many of the affected developed countries economies are shut down and consumers are under stay at home policy. These have serious negative impacts on these industries revenue and sustainability investments. To complicate the pain emergency loans support from financial institutions have dried up thus, there are fewer chances of survival without taxpayers interventions. Some commentators are of the view that greener pastures are not guaranteed for the industries that will survive the pain as the new world of doing business will emerge.
The likes of the e-commerce marketplace (Amazon); pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca and Pfizer); video conferencing (Zoom, Teams and Skype) and entertainment streaming (Netflix) industries benefit from the defence of this deadly axe. The longer the stay at home policy takes more people and businesses start thinking of a different way to sustain their livelihood and businesses from home. Another innovative business opportunity created is the products that many governments make mandatory to be worn everywhere. Although some of these products are reusable, few concerns have been raised about the materials used in the production and the ability to recycle these materials.
This pandemic has brought difficult business operating environment.
Many business leaders are worried about how to sustain productivity to increase
growth by adapting to the new business environment that the pandemic created. Businesses should protect the workforce with physical and emotional support,
empathetic communication, training and retraining of employees in readiness for
recovery. They should review their supply chains and possibly arrange
alternative sources of raw materials or services. Also, businesses should
frequently review the impact of the worst-case situation on the business cash
flow and the governments’ tax relief provisions and other supports. Finally,
business leaders should consider their business digital transformations by increasing
IT infrastructure and digital upskilling.
The Small Business Leadership Programme is
provided by Staffordshire Business School and is fully funded (free).
Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to
boost business performance.
The course lasts ten weeks and the next two cohort start dates are West Midlands 12th January 3.00 – 4.30 pm North West 13th January 3.00 – 4.30 pm
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.
The MSc in Digital Marketing Management is one of our awards to meet the changing demands of industry. Marketing is going through a fundamental change with ever more marketing carried out online – a major consequence of this is the incredibly detailed data that is generated which leads to data driven policy.
To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:
‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves). This is carried out between January to March/April
The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned. (April to August)
The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is desirable but not essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises, or it could be a mix with some days in the company and some work off site.
We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.
As the module is part of the course then paid remuneration is not required. However, we would expect travel expenses and any other identified costs of the project to be paid – these can be discussed and agreed before the placement starts.
Below are profiles of some of the students on the course so reach out direct to them if you are interested or if you want to discuss it with a staff memebr contact Jon Fairburn 01782 294094 firstname.lastname@example.org
a lot of experience developing and leading teams to achieve results. This is
proven through a history of achievement working with Active Lives Education, Cheshire
Football Association, Birmingham County Football Association, Walsall Local
Authority, Sported UK, Sports Across Staffordshire, and The Football
I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management. I have experience in creating and managing marketing and communication strategies and also have experience in website management, email and text marketing, social media management, content curation, and online paid advertising.
I currently run a business called Active Lives Education however am looking for a project that helps me gain further experience in digital marketing, to develop my skills and develop a career or business in this field.
I hold a foundation degree of science in Film and Television Production and have recently graduated from my BA degree in Events Management (2 year fast track) which I gained a 2:1 in. I have a large work experience portfolio from volunteering to paid work. For 4 years I was a manager of a Children’s play centre then moving onto the cash manager of B&M. I now work as an Events Assistant at Moddershall Oaks. For my volunteer work I have experience of working for the likes of Channel 4, Woman of the Year and Stone Food and Drink Festival. I have also worked several corporate events such as the Hotel Marketing Conference and Land Rover.
I have skills within Web design, as well as using all social media
platforms for brand building. I also have quite a good understanding with
photoshop and other computer software that may be needed, I am a quick learner
and can pick up things fairly quickly.
Ideally, I would like a placement within a sector that holds
Events, but I would be open to offers.
Or if you’d like to have a look at some of my volunteer work you can find this on Instagram: @amottevents
I have recently graduated from my BA Events Management (2 Year Accelerated) in which I achieved a first-class honours. I have previous work experience as a bar supervisor for three years as well as voluntary work experience with Channel 4, The Stone Food and Drink Festival as well as being a student representative for my course.
I currently work for The Student Hub at Staffordshire University as a Digital Marketing Ambassador. In this role I manage multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) as well as improving the overall engagement and reach of the platforms.
I am able to use social media
platforms to build and uphold brand image. I have experience in using analytics
to improve the reach of posts as well as identifying demographics which not be
being reached and making steps to target them.
Ideally I would like a placement
in tourism, events or hospitality but I am open to offers.
I have recently graduated with a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Events Management and have now started studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a large work experience portfolio from both paid and volunteer work. I have been a chef for the past three years at The Orange Tree Bar and Grill, I also hold a range of customer service skills which I have been able to develop by working at a bar and on a hotel reception. To broaden by experience in events management I have volunteered at numerous events such as Woman of the Year 2018, Stone Food and Drink Festival and The Royal Oak Gin festival.
I have skills in web design, brand building and analytics, I
can also use all forms of social media and some computer software which may be
required. I am a reliable team player who learns quickly, I enjoy expressing my
creativity when carrying out jobs and ensuring all tasks are completed to the
best of my ability.
If possible, I would like to find a placement within the
events, tourism or hospitality sector although I am open to other
have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Events Management and am now
currently studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a wide work
experience portfolio varying from paid work to voluntary. Over the last three
years I have been a bar staff member for Stonegate pubs working for Walkabout
until it closed down in April this year and now Yates Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Within my role at Yates I tend to work on the bar and occasionally the kitchen,
but recently I have taken on the role to be more involved in the social media
for the business. To help to widen my knowledge of events and volunteers I
volunteered for the Stone Food and Drink Festival in 2017/18.
main stills revolve around social media and helping to design promotional
material. I am a reliable person with work ethic and put all my effort into
anything that I do.
ideal placement if possible would be within the events, tourism or hospitality
industry. However, I am willing to try anything new that may broaden my
knowledge and skills
graduated from Staffordshire University with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Business
management and I’m now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I am a
team leader at the Staffordshire
University Students’ Union. This role requires excellent communication
skills, the ability to delegate tasks to the team I am managing and making sure
the venue (LRV and Verve) is running as smoothly as possible. This has taught
me a multitude of transferable skills within customer service as I have
developed my interpersonal and leadership skills. This is reflected within my
dedication to the Staffordshire
Stallions American Football as a team player and a defensive captain.
looking for a digital marketing placement for my work based digital marketing
project. This will give me a chance to utilise the skills and knowledge that I
have learnt within my masters and apply it to a professional environment. Any
opportunity to be able to get this experience would enable me to further my
My degree has
given me an insight into a variety of different aspects within Business
Management. This has given me fundamental knowledge on topics that also relate
to the MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I have extended my academic skills
and abilities by studying into a specialised area of Business. An MSc has enabled me to have a greater
understanding of analytics, search engine optimisation and the ability to
design a global digital marketing strategy.
I have graduated with a BA (Hons) Journalism and I am now studying my MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Throughout university, I worked as a venue member for Staffordshire University’s Student’s Union in front and back of house customer service roles and as a Student Ambassador. These roles have instilled me with strong interpersonal skills and self-organisation through working in these multifaceted positions.
I have experience working as a Trainee Journalist at The Sentinel newspaper and Staffs Live, where I was responsible for researching and writing feature and news content for print and online publication. I utilised my qualifications in Reporting and Shorthand at 100WPM from the National Council of Training for Journalists, ensuring accuracy and time management.
I am an experienced CRM Marketing Assistant, where I was responsible for curating content for email marketing campaigns and market research. Studying Digital Marketing has developed my knowledge within integral marketing theories, brand development and content curation/SEO. I am now implementing this in the creation of my own lifestyle blog, The Wordsmith.
am interested in opportunities in the content marketing sector, and I am open
to writing diverse content in an array of industries.