Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference

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Keynote speaker presentations

Nita Clarke, Engage for Success. UPTEE 2019 presentation ‘Employee Engagement – now more than ever’.
Michael Chaney, Willmott Dixon. UPTEE 2019 presentation.
Catherine Allen, Ella’s Kitchen. UPTEE 2019 presentation ‘Engaging the team through purpose and culture’.
Andrew Sandiford, Bishop Fleming. UPTEE 2019 presentation ‘Rewarding Employee Engagement’.

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

Take advantage of degree apprenticeship SME funding with UWE Bristol

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15 May 2019 15:00 – 17:00

Register here

Are you interested in upskilling your workforce and does the cost of training seem a barrier to accessing local talent?

This event provides an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from existing businesses who have apprentices at UWE, and how to make it work. In addition to this, we will be highlighting upcoming degree apprenticeships and further opportunities for your business to train your employees at degree level with the funding available.

UWE Bristol is the only university in the region with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to support non-levy employers and has secured funding to support apprentices from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, will welcome you to the event and alongside the Degree Apprenticeship Hub team will be able to help identify your training needs and suitable solutions.
Spaces are limited for this event, so please register below.

If you have any questions about this event or degree apprenticeships please feel free to contact Ellen Parkes.

We are looking forward to meeting you and beginning the degree apprenticeship partnership journey.

The event takes place in the University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus from 15:00 – 17:00.

Register here

Visiting speaker at the Phenomenal Women Lecture Series: Sam Brooks

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On Wednesday 27 February, Industry Fellow Sam Brooks delivered a talk on Powerful Coaching Conversations at the Phenomenal Women Series at Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel following a key note by respected broadcaster, journalist and author Bel Mooney. Bel spoke about her fascinating life story, and how she ended up as one of the top advice columnists in the country and how this role has provided her with some of the most rewarding moments in her professional life. Sam then explored how she operates at the other end of the coaching spectrum in a non-directive role as a coach, having been trained at UWE by completing the ILM Level 7 in Executive Coaching and Mentoring.

Sam’s talk focused on how to set the context to develop powerful coaching conversations and also introduced some of the work that is being undertaken by Dr Arthur Turner, a Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies and tutor on the ILM coaching courses, on the effectiveness of walking coaching in creating more relaxed conversations and increasing the likelihood of creative thought. 

The next Phenomenal Women Lecture is on 10th April with Dame Fiona Reynolds, Master of Emmanuel College Cambridge doing the keynote.  Dr Finn Mackay, a Senior Lecturer at UWE Bristol who specialises in contemporary British feminism and feminist activism will deliver the follow-up workshop on behalf of UWE Bristol.  Finn has been involved in feminist activism for twenty years and is passionate about all social justice issues and equalities.  Other research interests include gender studies, animal rights, lesbian and gay studies and particularly gender identity, definitions, expressions and borders within the LGBTQI+ community.

Rob Law CEO Trunki: Unpacking leadership and innovation

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On Thursday 7th February, Rob Law CEO MBE Trunki gave an inspirational guest lecture at the Bristol Business School.

Rob spoke about his career challenges and how he has grown the Trunki brand on an international scale.

He also talked about his leadership style and how he keeps the Trunki team motivated.

Rob was talking as part of our free CPD programme for alumni, Trailblazers. The Trailblazer Programme blends face-to-face sessions with webinars and social events. Participants are motivated to maximise personal impact, boost effectiveness and develop leadership skills. The talk was also open to the public.

Facebook Usage and Mental Health

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Originally posted on the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre blog here.

Dr Guru Prabhakar’s co-authored paper has been published in the International Journal of Information Management (Impact Factor: 4.5).

Facebook Usage and Mental Health: An empirical study of role of non-directional social comparisons in the UK.

This paper explores the relationship between the nature of Facebook usage, non-directional comparisons and depressive syndromes. The extant research on linkage between social media usage and mental health is inconclusive. There is small but significant causal linkage between increased non-directional social comparisons and depressive symptoms among the users.

This study hypothesizes that one of the mediating factors could be the social comparisons that Facebook users conduct whilst on the site. Dr Prabhakar’s paper therefore explores the link between non-directional social comparisons on Facebook, with increased depressive symptoms in 20-29 year olds.  In brief, a positive correlation was found between passive Facebook use and non-directional social comparisons.

The findings of the research have implications at three levels: individuals, firms and medical practitioners. The individuals shall benefit from the finding that passive Facebook usage would lead to increase in social comparison which in turn results in depressive symptoms. The passive usage behaviour includes logging into the sites and monitoring others’ profiles without any interaction. Over a period of time, this might result in depression.

The issues surrounding social media usage and mental health in the UK have also been highlighted recently in the media. For example, only a few days ago the BBC published the following article:

Mental health: UK could ban social media over suicide images, minister warns

Follow this link to view the full paper:

Nisar, T. , Prabhakar, G. , Ilavarasan, P. and Baabdullah, A. (2019) Facebook usage and mental health: An empirical study of role of non-directional social comparisons in the UK. International Journal of Information Management, 48. pp. 53-62. ISSN 0268-4012

Functional Spaces for Team Working

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Bristol Business School academics Dr Harriet Shortt and Dr Selen Kars recently spoke to Moon Consulting as part of their series of articles with academic leaders.

Read the full article below which originally appeared here.

With an increased focus on flexible working practices, employers need to be conscious of creating an environment which enhances learning, creativity and knowledge transfer so when teams do come together, they are in the best environment to achieve maximum results. 

In the latest of our articles with academic leaders, we talk to Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor and Dr Selen Kars, Senior Lecturer from Bristol Business School, at the University of the West of England, about how an organisation structures it’s work, breakout and functional spaces and how these can positively impact knowledge transfer and idea generation. 

by Dr Harriet Shortt and Dr Selen Kars

Everyday life at work includes solving problems together, acknowledging people have different skills, expertise, experiences and ideas, and learning how best to exploit these in order to advance organisational objectives. Indeed, it could be argued that knowledge is what makes organisations tick. But the problem is that knowledge often sits in the heads of individual employees, and if it stays there it’s worthless. So, what can organisations do to improve knowledge transfer? The answer could lie in the organisation of space.  

Most of our organisational interactions are routinised. The way work spaces are often organised means that employees typically relate and interact with a small circle of people. Despite open-plan office designs and spatial configurations that encourage people working in the same department or project team to be co-located, interaction patterns are often socially and spatially constrained. Daily interactions occur with colleagues who are sitting on average between only 18 and 25 metres away from us [1]. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article reports similarly; there is only 5-10% chance that we will interact with someone only two desk-rows away from where we sit! [2]

However, if you provide temporary, transitory spaces for conversations this provides opportunities for individuals to be exposed to new stimuli and new ideas. For example, international hearing aid producer Oticon replaced the elevators at their headquarters in Denmark with a central spiral staircase that was wide enough to permit chance encounters. Similarly, Pixar’s US headquarters are designed in a way that allows employees to have informal, chance meetings with colleagues all over the organisation, and having one cafeteria for over 1,200 employees was a deliberate choice. Steve Jobs is, infamously, said to suggest only one restroom for the whole company with the same idea in mind; although, luckily, he was later convinced to invest in one on each floor.  

Whether you encourage people meet for coffee on a staircase, at lunch, or in the restroom, the idea is that regular, informal, chance meetings are an effective way of instigating knowledge transfer between employees and create a breeding ground for new knowledge creation through collaboration.  

This is something that our research has revealed over the past decade – particularly with regards to ‘liminal’ spaces. Recent research by Iedema and colleagues[3] has shown, for example, how the corridors of hospitals have a learning function – this ‘ad hoc’ environment is where doctors, nurses and trainees engage in conversations, teach, learn and exchange knowledge. This is because corridors are ‘liminal’ spaces, meaning they are transitory, ‘in-between’ the formal spaces of an organisation, and lack the formality of defined spaces like ‘a meeting room’. Because of this people feel more comfortable asking questions or testing out ideas there, as there is a sense of freedom from organisational constraints and expectations. Harriet’s research exposes similar findings and suggests that it is the liminal spaces at work that provide vital sites for employees to seek and find inspiration and creativity – the toilets, corridors and stairwells are ‘transitory dwelling places’ that momentarily offer a ‘no man’s land’ where, for example, formal power dynamics appear to evaporate[4].   

But if you want to inject some ‘formality’ there are alternative options. Selen’s research with a medium-sized company, with a limited budget for employee training and development, saw the organisation introduce ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. These sessions were held in the busy cafeteria area, where interested employees gathered around a big table to learn about new products, a new process or practice they needed to follow. An open, transitory space like this may not be your first choice for a venue when you design a training event but think about the multiplier effect you could create – passers-by overhearing discussions, deciding to sit down or stand for a while, and taking new knowledge with them when they leave.  

Many have argued that physical proximity positively influences social relationships, friendships among colleagues and, in turn, job satisfaction[5]. Indeed, Harriet’s recent publication on eating cake in the office highlights some of these points[6]. In a study of spatial interactions in a large open-plan UK Government office, she found that – again, against organisational conventions – what really got people moving beyond the 18-25 metre mark, was the sharing and brandishing of cakes and biscuits at the end of long shared desks. The combination of cake and an open-plan office encouraged these temporary pockets of space to be socially created in the corridors and walkways between desks, and for social relationships and knowledge transfer to really flourish.

So, although we may find the familiarity of constrained social and spatial interactions at times rather comforting, if we don’t travel more than 20 metres on a typical work day to talk with our colleagues, we need to remember this severely limits the insights, ideas, and experiences we’re potentially subjected to. The liminal, in-between spaces not only allow for different relationships to be built across knowledge frontiers, but they can also facilitate shared learning processes where employees communicate knowledge, challenge practices and support knowledge creation, experimentation and innovation.

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Moon Consulting understand the challenges that employers face when recruiting for an evolving market. The brightest talent is high in demand, and often hard to find. Our comprehensive local and global knowledge coupled with our extensive industry awareness allows us to source those hard-to-find skillsets whilst providing unparalleled service.

We work closely with your business, taking the time to understand the impact of the latest trends and product innovations. In addition, our office deliberately open plan which allows our experienced team of search consultants to work collaboratively across assignments.  

If you would like to find out how we can help you, contact the team on 01275 371 200 or recruit@moonconsulting.co.uk.

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[1] Sailer, K. and Penn, A. (2009) Spatiality and transpatiality in workplace environments. In: Koch, D. and Marcus, L. and Steen, J., (eds.) Proceedings of the 7th International Space Syntax Symposium. Royal Institute of Technology (KTH): Stockholm, Sweden. Available from: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/15303/

[2] Feintzeig, R. (2013) The New Science of Who Sits Where at Work, Wall Street Journal, 8 October. Available from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-headline-available-1381261423

[3] Iedema R, Long D and Carroll K (2012) Corridor communication, spatial design and patient safety: Enacting and managing complexities. In: Van Marrewijk A and Yanow D (eds) Organizational Spaces: Rematerializing the Workaday World. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 41–57.

[4] Shortt, H. (2015) Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’ at work. Human Relations, 68 (4). pp. 633-658. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/26742

[5] See Eric Sundstrom’s work for a more extensive discussion of this. Sundstrom, E. (1986) Work Places: The Psychology of the Physical Environment in Offices and Factories. New York: Cambridge University Press.  

[6] Shortt, H. (2017) Cake and the open plan office: A foodscape of work through a Lefebvrian lens. In: Kingma, S. , Dale, K. and Wasserman, V. (eds.) Organizational Space and Beyond: The significance of Henri Lefebvre for organizational studies. London: Routledge. [In Press] Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/31539 ‘

Bristol Business School host 6th form conference for the Lighthouse School Partnership

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On Friday 19 January, Bristol Business School hosted the Lighthouse Schools Partnership for their first 6th form joint conference.

200 students from schools across North Somerset attended the conference promoting innovation, self-leadership, team work and entrepreneurship.

Director of Bristol Business Engagement Centre at the Bristol Business School, Dr Noordin Shehabuddeen, delivered a keynote address on “Innovation: the art of unlearning” and Bob Reeves, Director of the Foundation for Leadership through Sport, delivered a session on leadership alongside Bristol Bears Rugby sensation Nick Fenton-Wells. Students attended workshops throughout the day and received tours of the Business School.

The event was a huge success with great feedback from the students. One student commented “I have a UCAS application to UWE, but to be honest I was very half-hearted about it and thought I’d be going the apprenticeship route, however, after Friday, I’m thinking I need to be at UWE! I was blown away by the Law courts and the trading rooms.”

We hope to replicate this event in the future.