The Everest Challenge

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Staff at UWE Bristol took part in the Everest Challenge in aid of promoting physical and mental wellbeing at work.

Over summer 2019 several staff across the University took part in the Everest Challenge in aid of promoting physical and mental wellbeing at work.

Organised by Fliss Cargill, Professional Development Team Manager at UWE Bristol, the challenge was to climb the equivalent of reaching the top of Everest using only the stairs in the Bristol Business School. The number of steps required to do this was 58,070, equal to 2,420 flights.

All staff members who were involved had 8 weeks to complete the challenge and they recorded the flights they had taken each day, giving way to a bit of friendly competition between colleagues.

Fliss explains, “The purpose of the challenge was not only because I had always wanted to see how many times I’d need to walk up to my office to reach Everest (403.3 times!) but just to make us all think about how we could add some exercise into our work routine by taking the stairs rather than the lift and how much this might add to our mental health as well as physical”.

After a summer of aching calves and red faces, our staff managed to complete the challenge in an impressive 6 weeks – 2 weeks ahead of schedule. This challenge proved that we can all add a little bit more movement into our work day which is especially important for those who have a sedentary job role sat by a computer. We are lucky to have the facilities in the Bristol Business School building to do this easily, with a staircase from floors 2 to 6 situated in the middle of the building with access from the downstairs Atrium café.

UWE Bristol believe in empowering staff and students to make healthy choices and have an initiative called Feel Good at UWE Bristol. Have a look at their programme and gather some ideas for inspiration to improve your wellbeing.

Top 5 tips to engage with your employees

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Interview with Dr Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development

Gareth Edwards Headshot

Dr Gareth Edwards is an expert in dispersed leadership from a community perspective and leadership development.

Gareth recently chaired the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement’ Conference at the Bristol Business School. The event was focused on harnessing people’s skills and resources to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times.

Here, Gareth gives us his top 5 tips for engaging with your employees:

1. Make sure that you have a two-way conversation with organisational colleagues. It’s not enough to just open a dialogue or enter into a consultation. Employees need to feel like they’ve been part of a meaningful conversation and that their ideas have been discussed and explored. The decisions need to be strategic but with input from employees at all levels.

2. Consider the links to your organisations history. Include in the engagement dialogue a commentary about the purpose of the organisation and how this ties into current strategy and planning. Some firms have an innate family feel, others less so, but there is always a way to connect back to the roots of a company and explore engagement through heritage.

3. Think about the links between leadership and engagement. Good practice would warrant elements of distributed leadership whereby you recognise and reward examples of teams leading themselves within the organisation. It’s important to let this happen organically and promote excellence positively.

4. There is definitely something to consider around the subject of culture. There is no ‘right’ culture but it’s vital to recognise the importance that some people attach to this. Think about your organisation’s culture, how people reflect on this and link best practice to core values and behaviours.

5. Most importantly, have fun! Employees work hard and that should be recognised and encouraged, alongside social activities and a family friendly ethos. Things such as Away Days should have strategic and planning focuses, but some time should equally be spent on social activities. Things can be too formulaic, so try to find the right balance.

If you’d like to read more about leadership and engagement read the CITB’s snapshot report on ‘Building engagement: Encouraging leadership in construction’.

Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference

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On Tuesday 25 June Bristol Business School hosted the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference’ in collaboration with Engage for Success, CITB and ILM. This was the first Engage for Success conference hosted outside of London, and it was fantastic to hold it here at UWE Bristol welcoming over 170 external delegates to the Business School.

Keynote speaker presentations

Workshop presentations

On Tuesday 25 June Bristol Business School hosted the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference’ in collaboration with Engage for Success, CITB and ILM. This was the first Engage for Success conference hosted outside of London, and it was fantastic to hold it here at UWE Bristol welcoming over 170 external delegates to the Business School. The main theme of the event was around harnessing the skills of people and resources to reach new levels of engagement to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times, and with limited budgets, as often experienced by SMEs.

The event was chaired by Dr. Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development at UWE Bristol, whilst Noordin Shehabuddeen, Director of Bristol Business Engagement Centre at UWE Bristol, welcomed the delegates, who came from a variety of professions from within the South West including the construction industry, accounting and finance, and local government. The conference was treated to some excellent keynote speakers focusing on the necessity for employee engagement now more than ever, to case studies from baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen to Wilmott Dixon, a local construction company, who were recently ranked the 4th Best Company to work for by the Sunday Times.

There then followed a series of interactive workshops led by invited guests who are also ambassadors for Engage for Success, and a rather intriguing energiser event led by the Creator of Joy at Inspire me, who was able to create a credible rock choral version of ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ in just 20 mins – definitely an occasion which you had to be part of to actually believe. The event concluded with a keynote address from Andrew Sandiford, Managing Partner of local accountancy firm Bishop Fleming, followed by a panel discussion to answer questions submitted by the delegates throughout the day. It was evident that employee engagement is everyone’s responsibility, and many of the questions centered on how to do this if given little or no budget, as well as strategies as to how to gain support from the cynics and buy-in from senior management. Support was certainly gained by everyone present, and we were delighted to have hosted such a fantastic event.

UWE Bristol climbs to 28th in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2020

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has climbed to its highest ever position into the top 30 in the Guardian university league table, with its fourth consecutive rise up the table. Moving up 9 places from last year, the University is now ranked 28th out of 121 UK institutions in the newspaper’s latest annual guide for students. Business and Management courses at UWE have also gone up an impressive 29 places since last year.

A continued strong performance in the National Student Survey (NSS), achieving its highest ever result of 89%, and an increase in spend per student have helped the University rise to 28th in the 2020 guide, and 4th in the south west.

UWE Bristol has been ranked 2nd in the country for the satisfaction with course score, 6th in the country for its value-added score, which compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications to show how effectively they have been taught, and 10th for satisfaction with teaching.

The Guardian league table focuses on the quality of teaching, student satisfaction and employability. Compiled by independent company Intelligent Metrix, the guide ranks universities according to: spending per student; the student/staff ratio; graduate career prospects; what grades applicants need to get a place; the value-added score; and how satisfied final-year students are with their course, based on results from the annual NSS. The rankings also contain a continuation score based on the percentage of first-year students continuing to a second year. The overall Guardian league table is accompanied by subject rankings, showing how universities perform across 54 areas of study.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said:

“I’m so proud to be continuing our steady rise through the Guardian University Guide rankings this year, and it’s even more meaningful given that it’s partly due to our students giving us our highest ever student satisfaction result in the National Student Survey. This rise is a real reflection of the scale of our ambitions for the future, including further investment in services and facilities across all our campuses.

“This is an absolutely fantastic achievement for our University and is a real testament to all of our incredibly hard-working and committed staff, who always ensure that the student experience is at the heart of everything we do.”

Find out more about UWE Bristol’s rankings and reputation and view other UWE news stories.

Study Abroad Case Study: Edina – BA International Business student

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The exciting adventures of Edina

The below blog post has been co-authored by Edina Opoczki (BA International Business student) and Hayley Iovannelli- International Recruitment Manager for the Faculty of Business and Law.

Hi! My name is Edina and I’m currently studying the International Business programme here, at UWE Bristol. Now I’m in my final year, I decided to continue my studies overseas as part of the ‘Study Abroad’ scheme. I chose to study at one of UWE’s partner institutions (ESSCA) as it provided me with the opportunity to study in two countries; Angers (a city in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) southwest of Paris) and I’m currently in Shanghai, China.

It has been an interesting journey so far, and I wanted to share my experiences to help anyone who may be thinking about doing this.

Things I now know (that I did not know before)

I spent a lot of time researching the institution and the area in France and China. But, as I discovered, there’s always more you can and should do!

Here are my top tips:

  • Try to learn a bit of the language before you go – not everyone will speak English and if you can speak even the basics this will really help. And your language skills will evolve as you’ll have lots of opportunities to speak with other students.
  • Find out about the local amenities and services – I needed a dentist quite urgently when I was in France and it just wasn’t something I’d considered before, so well worth finding out about local English speaking amenities
  • Work out your budget – some areas are more cost effective than others so it’s worth scoping out the different places to live and eat
  • Reach out and speak to students who have done this before – they can give you valuable information about what to expect, places to visit to really make the most out of your time there
  • Be prepared for the cultural differences – find out the basics about how you should meet and greet people, restaurant etiquette, tipping etc. as each country is different
  • Enjoy yourself! – take every opportunity to explore, discover, practice the language and make the most of it!

Things I wish I had done differently

While I was in Angers during my first semester, I felt like I was missing out on the opportunity to make close friendships with the other international students because I found my accommodation privately rather than staying in the dormitory where most of the students were. On the other hand, in terms of money – value proposition, my room seemed to be the better option and that is why I choose it in the end.

When preparing to head out to Shanghai, the only thing I wish I had done even more before arriving was saving up money for travelling around the country. Life in Shanghai is more expensive than in Bristol so be prepared. Travelling around this huge country is costly and time-consuming because of the distances so I would advise everyone planning to study in Shanghai to save up as much as you can.

Why France and China?

The reason why I chose France to study is because I wanted to make sure I can build more international experience through my ‘Year Abroad’ scheme and France just seemed to be one of the perfect locations to do so. My goal was to live in a country which is a founding member of the EU and is totally different from the UK in terms of culture.

China has always been one of those destinations I have been dreaming about ever since I was a child. When I found out ESSCA has a campus in Shanghai I was beyond happy. China for me is the Rome of business world where all businesses leads to China. Because of the nature of my international business studies, I wanted to further build my experiences in a country taking a lead of newness, innovation and world trade.

How do I find my way around in Shanghai?

Before I came to China, I already downloaded multiple apps on my phone, saved all important addresses both in English and Chinese, made sure I always had a copy of UWE Travel Insurance on my phone and I already familiarized myself with the metro lines. There are several websites and apps you can take advantage of, and these are the ones that I found to be the most helpful:

  • TripAdvisor (guidance when visiting other cities)
  • Bon App! (like TA but more complex with local metro map)
  • SmartShanghai (detailed list of services, shops, information about SH)
  • Moovit (navigation app)
  • Sherpa’s (food delivery)
  • Epermarket (online supermarket for Western style grocery shopping)

This list is not full and there are many other apps and websites available.

How did I develop personally and professionally during ‘Study Abroad’?

‘Study Year Abroad’ allows me to further extend my knowledge and experience on the following topics: cross-cultural management, international human resources, international marketing, artificial intelligence, the energy sector, old and contemporary European and Chinese history and politics, the European Union, French and Chinese languages, doing business in China and many more.

As well as personal development, I have gained and further extended my academic skills and abilities. Both France and China have prepared me to take on the next challenges. I believe, with cultural awareness my ability to adapt to change of circumstances and openness for newness has prepared me to gain new experiences and makes me brave enough to apply for international jobs in the future.

UWE Bristol wins Guardian Award for Equity Programme

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We were delighted to be finalists at this year’s Guardian University Awards but are over the moon to have actually won! This award means so much to everyone who’s been involved in developing and delivering the Equity Programme ever since our first pilot event in October 2016. It’s been a long and sometimes challenging journey to introduce a progressive positive action scheme like this. Working with students, local employers and national diversity thought leaders, we’ve created something which the University can be really proud of and which offers BAME students a chance to leverage leadership and enterprise skills as they embark upon their graduate careers. 

The Equity programme has 4 pillars: 1-2-1 mentoring, identity and leadership coaching, enterprise education workshops and large evening networking and guest speaker events. National statistics on the performance and progression of ethnic minorities in the labour market (as highlighted by the MacGregor Smith Race in the Workplace Review 2017) have to change and we are proud to be leading the way on the role universities can play in this regard. Finally, we want to thank every facilitator and the external guests who attend our events and enrich our student experience.

Equity evening events run throughout the academic year and are open to the public to attend. We warmly encourage alumni to consider attending the evening events to give our students networking opportunities as well as being part of the collective challenge to diversify the talent pipeline. To find out more please visit www.uwe.ac.uk/equityor email raceequality@uwe.ac.uk

Post written by Dr Zainab Khan- Equity Programme Lead

Scale up scheme to offer businesses in the West funding and support from leading experts

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S4G (Scale Up 4 Growth), a brand new programme that launched mid-November, brings together experts from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), NatWest and law firm Foot Anstey, to deliver grant funding and relevant, high quality support and training to West of England businesses with ambitious growth plans.

The scheme is open to businesses in any sector that want to grow and scale up their business. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Grants of £10,000 to £40,000 are available to help address the challenges that West of England businesses face when growing and scaling up their operations. The grants will cover 37.5% of growth projects’ costs.

From January, leadership and business experts from UWE Bristol, as well as legal and finance professionals from Foot Anstey and NatWest will conduct a series of fully funded workshops and provide targeted support through one-to-one sessions. These workshops and one-to-ones will help businesses address the challenges they face in growing or ‘scaling up’, such as how to increase leadership capacity, finding a talented workforce, increasing sales, expanding infrastructure and accessing finance.

Robin Halpenny, who leads the S4G programme at UWE Bristol said: “S4G is an exciting and unique offering for businesses, as it is rare to find a scheme that offers one-to-one sessions from experts combined with workshops, as well as the option to get funding in order to grow.”

Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said: “The scheme aims to stimulate the regional economy by helping successful, fast-growth companies in the West of England make that next step up, to realise their full potential and overcome the barriers to getting on to that next rung of the ladder in terms of growth.”

Matt Hatcher, NatWest Director of Commercial Banking in the South West, said: “NatWest runs the largest fully funded accelerator programme in the world and over the last three years more than 5,000 entrepreneurs have been supported by one of our 12 regional Entrepreneur Accelerators to grow and scale-up their businesses.

“In the South West this year, we’ve provided funding of nearly £3bn to SMEs and S4G is a perfect fit with the development of our scale-up proposition, which aims to help even more local companies. The partnership allows us to reach more businesses across the region so we can support them with the funding and sector specific help then need to grow their business.”

Nathan Peacey, Partner at Foot Anstey, said: “Foot Anstey has been on its own incredible growth journey in recent years so we really understand the challenges and opportunities that businesses face from our own personal experience.

Our team can provide insights and the right level of legal expertise across a whole range of areas to businesses when they need it.”

S4G will run until 2021. For more information and to submit an application for the scheme, please visit www.scaleup4growth.co.uk 

Case study: Shaping minimum wage policy

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Featured Researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Felix Ritchie’s research on the minimum wage.

Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Research conducted at Bristol Business School on the UK’s minimum wage has significantly influenced how the government sets its rates for entry-level pay. By helping shape policy decisions, and redesigning some national surveys about pay, the work has led to direct impact on the wider community.

“Wage levels are extremely important – the difference of a few pence on a wage may be negligible to an employer, but for someone on the breadline working 40 hours per week, this can make a big difference,” says Dr Felix Ritchie who leads the research.

Dr Ritchie is Director of the University’s Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF) and is an authority on non-compliance with the minimum wage in the UK and on the quality and use of labour market data.

He and UWE Bristol colleagues Dr Hilary Drew and Dr Helen Mortimore (both Human Resource Management experts) have worked extensively with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Low Pay Commission (LPC). Their work has looked to establish whether results from national surveys on minimum wage paint a true picture of the minimum wage landscape. This in turn allows governments to monitor more accurately how the rate affects employment.

The team has discovered that survey results on minimum wage often do not tell the whole story. Based on statistical analysis and interviews, they have found that both employers and employees tend to round up or reduce rates to the nearest whole number when answering survey questions about pay.

This means that a wage set at, say, £7.05 can lead employees to report it as £7 on a survey, which inaccurately implies employer non-compliance. And if the wage level is below a whole number (e.g. £6.93), the employer tends to round up the figure, meaning statistics inaccurately show a higher number of employers paying over the minimum wage.

Based on these findings, Dr Ritchie and his colleagues have made a recommendation to set a rate that is easier to use in calculations. In 2014, this directly influenced the government’s decision to set the wage at £6.50, which subsequently had a direct impact on how employers reported their pay in surveys, and led to more accurate statistics.

The researchers have also found that employers who are non-compliant in paying the minimum wage – especially when remunerating apprentices – often do so unintentionally because of a lack of knowledge about wage structure. For instance, minimum wages are usually based on age, but employers are sometimes unaware that apprentices over 18 are eligible for a higher wage once they complete their first year of training.

“Apprentices trust Employers, who think they are doing the right thing but many don’t know or understand the rules. This means that if something goes wrong, there may be no mechanism for correcting errors,” explains Dr Ritchie.

The experts also found that while surveys indicated that up to 40% of apprentices appeared to be underpaid, the true figure was closer to 10-15%. Based on interviews with apprentices, the team attributed this inaccuracy to the poor survey wording. Dr Hilary Drew explains: “We found that the apprentices had problems filling information in, and we wouldn’t have known this just by looking at the statistics.”

The team therefore suggested ways to modify the questionnaire with more accessible questions so results would better represent apprentices’ knowledge of hours and pay. This was implemented in a brand new survey.

Overall, the team has developed an excellent reputation in the area of wage level statistical analysis. As a result, the LPC and other organisations often call on Dr Ritchie and colleagues as experts to comment on minimum wage policy.

Professor Felix Ritchie

Featured researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Felix is an applied economist with an interest in government data, labour economics, data management and security, statistical disclosure control, privacy and identification, decision-making policy in the public sector and alcohol and drugs policies.

Email: felix.ritchie@uwe.ac.uk Phone: +4411732 81319

Case study: Claiming back our data

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. The first case study looks at Professor Glenn Parry’s research on personal data. Written by Jeremy Allen: 

In a world where we are generating more and more data using online maps, on social media and soon in our homes through the Internet of Things (IoT), Professor Glenn Parry wants to help individuals take control of their personal data.

“Our goal is a lofty one: we are trying to revolutionise the world of personal data and change global data business models from company-controlled to personal controlled data,” he says.

The information we give out on a daily basis creates a stream of personal statistics that subsequently becomes an asset for big corporations like Apple or Facebook.

Professor Parry argues that we should at least be able to retain a copy of our data and be in a position to make it work for us. By collating all our data sets in one place, he and other partners have developed the Hub of All Things (HAT). The digital platform can capture a cross-section of all our activities in cyberspace pertaining to shopping habits, photographs, travel modes etc. that can be linked to specific points in time.

“The HAT helps you manage and organise your data, combine it how you want and decide how to share it with others,” says Parry. “HAT will give you back some control of your own data, letting you decide what to share, with whom and how much detail they receive.”

Increasingly, individuals will produce more data due to the IoT, whereby our household appliances are likely to be connected to the internet.

To determine some of the data that the IoT could generate and re-enforce why it is increasingly important for us to control our own information, Professor Parry and colleagues have conducted experiments in their homes, as part of their research.

Taking bathrooms as a place where there are lots of ‘things’ that can generate data, the researchers set up humidity sensors, movement sensors in towels, motion and light sensors, and scanned shampoo bottles regularly to determine how much of its contents had been consumed.

Experiments helped indicate when we shower, for how long, how much water we consume, how often we use towels and how external factors affect all this data.

One area of Professor Parry’s ongoing research with the HAT involves examining how individuals perceive their vulnerability in cyberspace. By analysing how people perceive risk, he has been able to create a measure of this perception. “People give away quite a lot: a large group tends to underestimate the risk, while many others are aware of the risk yet embrace it,” says the academic.

He advises that there are ways to stop giving away our data and that we can therefore turn off a lot of what is broadcast out. One option is to turn off the location setting on our smartphone. Another is to be vigilant when downloading free apps, as by agreeing to terms and conditions we often open up our contacts list or divulge our location to third parties.

“Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, people are starting to understand how data can be misused but many are still unaware of the dangers. Our research highlights that our information should be in the hands of individuals, and by working together we can create better e-business models,” says Professor Parry.

He and his colleagues are also working on other business models that could bring good to society. For instance, they are looking at how the technology behind cryptocurrencies – the Block Chain – might be used to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“The future doesn’t have to be like Blade Runner, it could be more of a utopian future where technology works with us and could perhaps even stop us polluting the seas and help us live a cleaner, healthier life,” says Professor Parry.

UWE Bristol moves into top 10 in UK for student satisfaction

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has climbed into the top 10 universities in the UK for student satisfaction.

Results from the latest National Student Survey (NSS) have revealed a record 89 per cent of UWE Bristol final year students were satisfied with their course overall, an increase of one percentage point on 2017.

The rise – the fourth consecutive annual increase recorded at the University – comes as the average overall satisfaction score across the higher education sector dipped from 84 per cent to 83 per cent.

UWE Bristol is now the highest ranked university for overall student satisfaction of all 18 institutions in the University Alliance, a group of British universities focused on technical and professional education.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said: “I’m absolutely delighted our overall score has increased to 89 per cent. This is outstanding in its own right and even more impressive in a year where the sector has declined to 83 per cent.

“This is a really tremendous achievement and one that has only been achieved by hard work, focus and a genuinely collaborative effort.”

The 2018 National Student Survey, carried out by the Office for Students and the UK higher education funding bodies, captured the views of more than 320,000 students

The annual survey sees students reflect on their time at university, offering their verdict on topics ranging from teaching and assessment to resources and academic support. It was introduced in 2005 to help inform the choices of prospective students and assist universities in enhancing student experience.

In this year’s results, UWE Bristol’s scores were above the UK average on 26 of the 27 survey questions. Some 56 programmes achieved a score of 92 per cent or above with 12 achieving 100 per cent: Architecture and Environmental EngineeringArchitecture and PlanningCriminology and SociologyDrawing and PrintEarly ChildhoodGeographyInformation Technology Management for BusinessIntegrated Wildlife ConservationInterior ArchitectureNursing (Children’s)Nursing (Learning Disabilities) and Robotics.

Find out more about UWE Bristol rankings and reputation.