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The state of employee / employer relations in the UK was highlighted by the recent industrial dispute at the Grangemouth oil refinery. The Unite trade union was forced to back down in a dispute over pay and conditions. If the Grangemouth dispute is typical, then it looks like the balance of power between unions and employers has shifted decisively towards the employer.
This excellent FT video looks at how Britain's trade unions are having to adapt to a changing labour market structure and employee enthusiasm for joining a trade union.
Employers don't have it all their own way, however. For example, the growing use of outsourcing has meant that employers have to pay much more attention to potential industrial disputes throughout their supply chain rather than just with their own employees.read more...»
This is a perfect video to test understanding of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Terry has been drafted in to increase productivity at Felcher & Sons, and does so via American-Football-style tackles for anyone deemed to be working below Terry's exacting standards.
Tucked away in a dark corner of the #buss3 syllabus is a topic entitled ‘Competitive Organisational Structures’. It is my experience that there is a temptation for students to be fooled into thinking that this is simply a re-hash of the content they considered during #buss2. For most it probably is, but for those wishing to buy a ticket to ‘Success Ville’ and ride the A-train all the way to June 2014 the topic is, in fact, completely different.read more...»
The recent announcement, that industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) appears inevitable in the coming months, combined with a planned autumn term strike by members of two teaching unions and a claim from the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) that strike action by postal workers is unavoidable, may make you think that industrial action in the UK is on the increase.read more...»
"The 20th Century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st Century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers."
So said Joe Kraus, founder of a search engine called Excite in the middle of the 1990s. Never heard of it? That's not surprising; in 1999 it was a $6.7bn enterprise with hundreds of employees, but a year later the dot-com bubble burst and it disappeared from the market place. But this quote is one of in an article about Peter Day's Radio 4 Archive programme to be broadcast tonight, and already recommended by Michael Owen in his blog below; forgive me for this repetition, but this is such a brilliant article that it really merits a second look, and hopefully between us we will convince you of that!read more...»
Innovation turns business markets upside down, it alters the price and use of resources, it creates and destroys revenue flows and profitability as well as the way we work.
Peter Day a former BBC presenter considers a significant changes in a BBC Radio 4 series this weekend. Consider how the internet, search engines and 3D printing or additive manufacturing might alter market production processes, job opportunities marketing and economies.
There is much to discover and discuss in his superb introductory article linked above. The broadcasts are linked here.
I think it is always hard for students to remember which of the motivation theories is which - whose was the one with the two factors, who was that one with the lightbulbs, and who was the one with the triangle? This article about Maslow might help a bit, as it gives some interesting background on the man and his theory, and adds a bit of Application in the form of business examples for each of the five layers, and also the results of Maslow's own research into people who he viewed as 'self-actualisers'.
There is even an accompanying 30-minute programme, broadcast on Radio 4's 'Health Check' series during the summer, which includes interviews with some of those who worked with the man himself at Brandeis University outside Boston, where Maslow was founding Professor of Psychology.
If you're tempted to behave in an unruly manner on a Hong Kong Airlines flight - watch out. You may get more than you bargained for...read more...»
Over the summer I’ve kept spotting reference to an article that appeared in The Economist that has caused me to smile and reflect. With a busy term coming up, the advice seems very welcome: the biggest problem in the business world is too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness.
I’m well aware of my own time wasting habits, and I see plenty of it going on around me too. Here are some of the key points that are raised:
Imagine working for someone where you need to be available for work, but there are no guarantees how much work you will be given and, therefore, how much you will be paid. That it is the reality for potentially 1 million employees in the UK, according to recent research by the CIPD. The use of controversial “zero-hours contracts” has become much more widespread in recent years and now they are firmly in the spotlight with the UK government ordering a review into their use.read more...»
I've just come across a web page that steered me onto one of my favourite topics (see below). I started putting links together here which I intended to be about management in general, but the list has become dominated by an issue that I find particularly interesting: how the physical design of the workplace influences the performance of organisations. This is a debate that you can take in so many different directions, from organisational structures through to motivation and workforce performance.read more...»
I've become increasingly convinced from recent discussions with major accountancy firms and other major employers that workplace learning is going to challenge the preeminence of universities and colleges when it comes to obtaining higher level qualifications. The emergence of some industrial-strength Higher Apprenticeship programmes recently is a sign of that. And so to is the news that John Lewis Partnership is to extend its programme of workplace learning to offer Level 6 (university degree level) qualifications for some of its management.
This story would provide the basis for some excellent analysis by students exploring how and why John Lewis Partnership has decided to extend its internal training programmes.
Some clues can be found in extracts from the JLP press release: for example;
The so-called "University of John Lewis" will also offer a number of other development initiatives through its ‘skills programme’, which will include training in product knowledge, line management and leadership. read more...»
"Our partners give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment."
That might seem an odd question to pose on a day when UK unemployment figures rose over 2.5m. Yet many of those people live in the ‘wrong’ place, or have the ‘wrong’ skills (and most, hopefully, will not be unemployed for over 6 months). So here’s a blog post to get you thinking along PEST analysis lines – such as how firms are affected by this economic problem. But there’s another interesting point if you’re thinking about social trends too…
Have you guessed where all these extra workers we need might come from?read more...»
Here is one of my all-time favourite video clips for business studies, featuring one of my business heroes - Herb Kelleher.
You might not have heard of Herb Kelleher. However, I highly recommend that you take a little time to find out more about him and the business he founded - Southwest Airlines. It is a fantastic example of a business which has identified organisational culture as a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
Kelleher identified the need for an employee-centered culture at Southwest as the way in which his airline could deliver outstanding customer service. Put simply, Herb believes that the "business of business is people".
In this short, five minute video, Herb explains why putting employees at the centre of Southwest's culture is so important to him.
About a minute into the video, Herb demonstrates a superb example of "analysis" using a logical chain of argument. The argument goes something like this:
...If the employees come first, then they’re happy…. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders.
A simply stunning video, that stands the test of time.read more...»
The organisational structure and organisational culture at John Lewis Partnership, based around employee ownership, is distinctive and highly successful. But why? What is it about the "partnership" model at JLP which drives sales and customer service so high?
In these JLP videos, the partners themselves explain their perspectives on the business benefits of partnership in a highly competitive retail environment. The business benefits of the model are examined in more detail in the second video.
Some fantastic insights into culture here as well as the motivational impact of employee ownership.read more...»
Teleworking is a great concept to discuss in Business Studies, as the topic covers everything from organisation to leadership, motivation and business culture. Recently I wrote about trouble for teleworkers, following after the findings of a report that suggested that many potential teleworkers fret that time away from the office means missing out on promotion opportunities. Apparently, the report by the London Business School finds that companies still reward ‘presenteeism’; telecommuters are less likely to be promoted because they aren't present in the office.
Now we learn that Yahoo are to place severe restrictions on opportunities for teleworking, promoting more interesting debate and coverage. For one thing, the boss of Yahoo is female. You might think this point irrelevant, but to many commentators, this is yet another angle to a fascinating debate….read more...»
I am regular listener to Cambridgeshire’s Star FM Business Hub, which covers some amazing topics for small businesses and is a regular feature of my BTEC lessons. This week's episode however contained a large segment on the importance of culture in a business' success, which is particularly pertinent for BUSS4.
The interview with William Rogers, CEO of UKRD group (owner of Star Radio), gives a fantastic insight into how leaders can create the right culture for a business to succeed. It can be found here and starts 27 minutes in.read more...»
The FT today publishes a great report on the culture at Amazon's Rugeley distribution centre. An interesting insight into the culture of a cost focussed and highly effiecient business that is described by founder Jeff Bezos as: "Our culture is friendly and intense but if push comes to shove, we'll settle for intense."read more...»
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V appointed Frans van Houten as Chief Executive in April 2011. The new CEO has reviewed the group's operations, and has taken decisions to reshape the firm.
Here’s a funny story to accompany a more serious post about the future of outsourcing – which is where a firm hires the services of outside companies to perform a business process currently completed ‘in house’.
Apparently one US worker hired people in China do his work. Having outsourced his job, 'Bob' would spend the day at work browsing sites on the internet. (If you believe it), the US-based software developer has been caught outsourcing his work to China for less than a fifth of his six figure salary - while he spent his time messing around on Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay and Reddit.read more...»
Investors vs Managers vs Employees - a classic example of stakeholder
conflict - is to be examined in a 30-minute radio programme on Monday
evening, spotted by my colleague David Wright and of potential value to teaching Business Studies as well as Economics. Radio 4’s Analysis series will be
looking at “...how the relative power of executives has grown and is now
reflected in their own
much higher financial rewards and enhanced esteem. And if both workers
and investors want to increase their influence and their share of the
rewards how might they go about it?”.
The programme will also look at the power that trades unions held in the 1960’s and 70’s, and how that power was lost. Looks like a useful half hour: BBC Radio 4 on Monday 21st January at 8.30pm.
Many new businesses or start-don’t recruit people until the enterprise has become reasonably well established. Others need to recruit people before trading can begin. This presentation looks at the basic employment options for a new business and some of the employment challenges facing an entrepreneur.read more...»
Decision-making in business is about authority. A key question is whether authority should rest with senior management at the centre of a business (centralised), or whether it should be delegated further down the hierarchy, away from the centre (decentralised) - a question addressed by this revision presentation.read more...»
A brief introduction here to the concept of delayering - which involves the removal of layers in the organisational hierarchy. Delayering is a key tool or approach in strategic HRM.
This revision presentation introduces the concept of HRM (human resource management) and outlines why it has become more important as a source of competitive advantage. The most common HRM objectives are outlined alongside the key internal and external influences affecting HRM, Finally the contrast between "soft" and "hard" HR strategies is introduced.
Many of you will have met Mark Mitchell & Joe Corcoran - two of the fantastic Business & Economics team at Greenhead College. In addition to their outstanding work at Greenhead, Joe & Mark are part of the innovative TBBLE team and also help us deliver the student revision workshops.
Well, it seems that Joe might not have been performing quite as well at work as he thinks. Joe's innovative use of lego in the business classroom, BGT buzzers and option dice? Apparently its not what the newly hard-line HRM strategy at college might require. Joe's in for some disappointing news as he arrives for his annual performance appraisal from boss Mark. There are some attractive rewards for the staff who have performed best, but where is Joe in the performance league table?read more...»
I've had a long running interest in the office of the future and closely follow the debate about how we might be motivated by our workplace surroundings. As it gets more wintry, many of you might be thinking even about the practicalities of working from home. Some people even consider taking a sickie.read more...»
In this revision quiz we provide 10 questions on the key objectives of HRM and influences on the chosen HRM strategies (including Hard HR and Soft HR).
Starbucks in the UK is suffering from some pretty terrible publicity at the moment and this news about some changes in its UK HRM strategy probably don't help the mood amongst the baristas and other employees in Starbucks outlets...read more...»
In this revision quiz, each time you attempt the quiz you face ten questions on how businesses can make their organisational structures more competitive.
This new revision quiz provides 10 questions on the basics of employee/employer relations:
Big Data - remember that term because it is important. Big Data is the term that is used to describe the rapid growth of data from our movements, choices, activities and transactions.
According to estimates provided by IBM, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.
If Big Data is so important in the world of business, how come you may not have heard about it?
To you and I, big data is probably best understood as the enormous datasets held by businesses, governments and other large organisations whose activities affect millions of us. Big data is used to determine your recommended friends on Facebook, suggested purchases on Amazon and the point at which your mobile phone network offers you a freebie to keep you on side.
A key question is, how can Big Data be used by businesses to make decisions?read more...»
I was once told a story about a manager (but I don't know if this is an urban myth) who had a particular method for short-listing candidates for jobs. This manager would take the top half of a pile of applications and put them in a shredder and then state that the company should not employ anybody so unlucky.
Whilst the 1990s was awash with stories of the use of graphologers making judgements about candidates based upon their handwriting (I never use a little circle to dot my 'i's any more - this indicates an untrustworthy personality, apparently), the modern method is the use of software to score potential employees. In an era of high unemployment and therefore large numbers of applications this would seem to be a logical, if slightly 'big-brother' move forward.The BBC have put an interesting report on their website today that discusses the rise of the use of such software to short-list candidates and, as well as being useful to students studying recruitment they may find the tips on how to improve job application success very valuable.
This is a really simple activity this that allows students to really experience a hygiene factor and is perfect for the lesson after Herzberg has been taught.
Before the students enter the classroom I hide all the chairs in a cupboard.
When they walk in they obviously ask me where the chairs are. I simply tell them that we ordered them new chairs and got rid of the old ones but the new chairs are delayed and won't arrive until tomorrow.
They always say, 'well what are we supposed to do?'. Simple, sit down or stand up!
Bingo. Dissatisfaction in the classroom! 'No way am I standing up for an hour sir', 'thats shocking'
I let them stew for a few minutes and then explain that their chairs are simply a hygiene factor. Without them they feel dissatisfied but having chairs wouldn’t increase their motivation within the lesson.
Homeworking, teleworking or telecommuting – various terms are used to describe the phenomenon of working away from the traditional office. It’s a great Business Studies discussion point, because there’s so much you can consider in terms of business organisation, leadership, management and motivation. It’s probably fair to say that the idea has (so far) failed to reach the level of acceptance that boosters promised twenty years ago.read more...»
Anything that mentions former England Rugby Union supremo Sir Clive Woodward and his suggestions for good management of people is always worth a read and this article in the Harvard Business Review should be included.
In this blog from regular contributor to the HBR, Michael Schrage, he discusses Woodward's view that good managers can be improved by having good employees and learning from their activities. The article also got me wondering about how I much I have learnt about good teaching practice by observing the methods of the more able students or watching how savvy students use technology to communicate and attempting to mimic this with classroom activities or VLE resources.
Please remember this is an article written by an American who may not quite understand the intricacies of one of our most popular sports - either that or I have forgotten when the British Lions won the Rugby World Cup.read more...»
This energetic revision activity covers knowledge but also removes students from their comfort zones and improves fitness. Warning: clasrooms may not be big enough and please remember health and safety.
Bonus payments play an increasing role in the remuneration of employees in the UK. This video from the ONS provides an overview or, and analysis of, trends in the payment of bonuses. Data is displayed across different time periods and the incidence of bonuses between different sectors is also considered.
Lots of useful discussion points from the video, even if the method of delivery in the video is a little formal!read more...»
A great example here of a change in the nature of government regulation of business activity - this time focusing on the costs and procedures that firms experience when they want to fire someone. This excellent 2 minute video from the BBC's Hugh Pym explains how the maximum compensation workers can win for unfair dismissal will be cut, in proposals announced by the the Business Secretary Vince Cable. Cable has also announced the use of settlement agreements, where staff agree to leave with a pay-off but no option of a tribunal.
The UK Government is under great pressure from a variety of pressure groups and business organisations to reduce what is perceived as a burden of regulation and legislation that may inhibit business growth. These laws and regulations are commonly referred to as "red tape" and students ought to be able to see how the reduction of red tape might enable a business more freedom in its decision-making.
However, on the other hand, what might be seen as "red tape" to a business owner could also be viewed as essential protection for stakeholders such as employees (in this case), customers etc.
Barclays Bank needs a new leader - and the Board have made their choice. Barclays have opted for an internal candidate - Antony Jenkins - rather than recruit an external candidate.read more...»
This new revision quiz looks at the role of teamwork in business.
The likely business benefits of a motivated workforce are familiar to most business students (why is it that almost every exam answer involving employees gravitates to motivation?).
But what is it that encourages or motivates workers to go beyond the confines of their role and job description? What factors make staff go the “extra mile”? A recent survey of over 3,000 employees provides some excellent evidence for students.read more...»
You won’t find this term in a crusty old business studies textbook, but the use by employers of “zero-hours contracts” is becoming increasingly common on the UK. Companies using zero hours contracts don’t give their employees guaranteed hours, but expect them to be available to work with a few hours’ notice. They say they are being fair and are providing valuable experience to staff, but the unions, and some workers, are opposed.read more...»
The greatest challenge facing business leaders in their drive for growth is complexity. That is the powerful argument in this interesting article from HR Magazine.read more...»
This new revision quiz provides a series of questions which focus on workforce planning:
This is a good example of significant cost synergies being squeezed from a major takeover. Google, which acquired Motorola Mobility (a manufacturer of mobile phones) for $12.5bn, has decided to make 20% of Motorola’s workforce redundant. That’s around 4,000 employees who will lose their jobs.read more...»
It’s never pleasant contemplating what happens if you die - but Google have clearly thought it through with this employee benefit which really ought to help them maintain high levels of staff retention!read more...»
A great example here of the link between new leadership and cultural change.
Marissa Mayer has recently taken over as CEO of troubled online business Yahoo. Once a high-flying Internet stock, Yahoo has struggled in recent years as rivals like Google have dominated the email and search engine market. Successive changes in leadership have failed to achieve a turnaround at Yahoo, so the challenge facing Mayer is tough. What is her strategy?read more...»
What a shambles! But what a fantastic case study for business teachers and students for years to come!
One year ago, LOCOG proudly endorsed a short video from G4S which trumpeted their role as the security provider for the 2012 London Olympics. The video is shown further below.
One year on, and just days before the Games begin, G4S has admitted that it is unable to meet the requirements of the contract and the Armed Forces have been required to stand in to provide the desired level of security. You couldn’t make it up.read more...»
The business news is full of stories covering the retrenchment strategies of various private sector firms such as Nokia, Sony, Thorntons, HP and others.The large job losses involved generate lots of headlines and in-depth analysis of whether the retrenchment strategy will work. We’ve been tracking some of these stories for students using our ResearchBuster on Retrenchment.
However, students need to be aware that retrenchment strategies are not just reserved for the private sector. Public sector organisations have been affected just as much by decisions to reduce and change the scope of operations and activities. Here are a few useful research examples to add to student notes.read more...»
A big hat tip to Bill Bethell for spotting this fascinating insight here in this new BBC video about how Google organises the workplace to encourage innovation and productivity. Packed full with superb business studies insights…
When it’s summer, the office or classroom looks less and less inviting as the outdoors calls to us. It’s also a Business Studies classic discussion topic: designing an effective work place and contemplating the office of the future.
Then there are attempts to motivate people with a wacky workplace. I’ve come across a new video clip to bring this story up-to-date.
This revision presentation builds on our earlier introduction to organisational structures. It considers the alternative approaches to organisational structure and looks in more details at core topics such as hierarchies, spans of control, workloads, job allocations and delegation. It also looks at how changes to organisational structure might lead to improved competitiveness and business performance.read more...»
The basics of the recruitment and selection process for a business are covered in this revision presentation. We look at the recruitment process; the methods of internal & external recruitment; the role of job and person specifications and descriptions; the role of outside agencies in recruitment.read more...»
In this revision presentation we look at the business advantages and drawbacks of training, and the various kinds of training including on-the-job, off-the-job and induction training.read more...»
There are veraious ways in which firms can measure the effectiveness of their workforce. This revision presentation introduces three key metrics - staff turnover; labour productivity and absenteeism.read more...»
Two themes wrapped up together here.
Firstly, you will be sure to have noticed references to a ‘Shareholder Spring’ in which normally quiet and docile shareholders have been increasingly resistant to executives’ claims for ever higher rewards. There’s a link to a very handy summary below.
Secondly, this serves as a reminder of one of the several ways in which you can boost the evaluative component of your answers.
Some evidence here of increasing shareholder activism which illustrates the pressure now being placed on the Boards of some quoted firms.
The revolt by Barclays shareholders (almost one third of them voted against the proposed remuneration packages for senior management) didn’t stop the deals being approved. However, this is a good example of shareholders expressing their anger at the activities of firms whose pay packages for top directors seem to fit uncomfortably in this period of prolonged austerity.read more...»
A fascinating and detailed look here at working conditions at Apple’s main supplier in China. This 15 minute video raises a lot of issues which students can develop; particularly useful for any discussion around CSR, but also excellent for operations and HRM. In the video, ABC News Nightline goes behind the scenes of the FoxConn factory - the operation which makes iPads and iPhones.read more...»