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Case studies



  1. CZ = Czech Republic
  2. LIT = Lithuania
  3. GER = Germany
  4. UK = United Kingdom
  5. FIN = Finland

Chapter 1: Workforce Planning


Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 Kirkwood Hospice case study: Effective workforce planning, well-being and attracting younger workers in a social enterprise UK 2019 While approaches to HRM in SMEs often differ from managing people in large organisations, it is important to note that SMEs are also diverse in terms of size, mission, history and governance. In this case, we explore a not-for-profit social enterprise with charitable status. Specifically, we discuss key challenges in workforce planning in a hospice which provides palliative care for in-patients and service users in the community. Importantly, we reflect on the importance of workforce well-being, in particular the risks of burn-out in context of high levels of compassion. We also note the need to attract younger workers. The lone HR Manager in this kind of SME needs to ensure that they take steps to manage their own self-care. One impact from the case has been discussions with Hospice UK and its HR managers' network to establish a national virtual randomised virtual coffee trial to support mentoring.  Link
2 Development programmes to support career paths and talent management UK 2019 This case study of an engineering SME in Holmfirth addresses talent management in SMEs. Talented employees are a key resource for enterprises to support their competitive advantage. This case shows how ACCU Ltd. created talent management programmes to support its corporate strategy. ACCU Limited invests in and organizes study trips, courses, training and open lectures for its staff to support their learning and on-going growth.  Link
3 Challenges faced with leadership succession planning in a British SME: A teaching case study UK 2018 The purpose of this case study is to explore leadership talent management at ProcessCo, which operates as a bespoke manufacturer of components for the construction industry, operating as a business to business (B2B) trade entity within Yorkshire. The HR Director is facing a predicament on leadership succession planning at a senior level, reviewing the resources and support required to ensure an effective talent management programme. Following guidance provided by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the case recommends that individuals who are responsible for succession planning need to be highly knowledgeable about how the business is likely to evolve, and how such change might affect the numbers involved in succession planning and the skills they must possess. This requires a close relationship at a senior level between top managers responsible for shaping the future of the business (including the chief executive) and HR. It is important for employers to avoid talent tunnel vision where the focus is purely on current skills needs, and to ensure they develop a good understanding of future business needs for leaders, managers and business critical positions. Link
4 How to improve HRM system in small boutique hotels LIT 2017 This case study of a small boutique hotel considers some of the HRM activities associated with a relatively small (boutique) style hotel. We suggest recommendations that can be implemented to increase employee motivation within the scope of the hotel's available resources and organisational structure. Key ingredients of effective human resource management are having in place an appropriate leadership style and effective two-way communications with employees. This creates an open and honest environment where employees feel that their ideas are being listened to and that they can make a contribution to decision making. Engaged employees are more likely to be proud to work for their organisation and, therefore, will believe in and live out its values. Improvement for this company is offered step-by-step: create formal appropriate HRM system; formalize the HR manager's role; formalize staff meetings; organize a suggestion box. Link
5 Expanding an arts business: from a terraced house to a global SME UK 2018 The Pink Pig case illustrates internationalisation in an SME and the people management implications. It highlights the importance of employee engagement to enhance productivity and to integrate HRM policies and practices with other business functions. This case shows that when an SME grows to around 150 people it is time to consider employing a dedicated HR specialist who can be proactive in working with line managers and members of the workforce to improve the organisation's competitive advantage through effective motivation and performance management tools. Link

Chapter 2: Recruitment Management

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 Screws production as an attractive career for graduates  CZ 2017 The case study focuses on recruitment challenges in a manufacturing SME and creates recommendations to increase the attractiveness of the company as an employer especially for students and graduates, Y and Z generation members. The practical part of the case study focuses on the application of theoretical knowledge within the selected company. The main attention is paid to creating a company page on the social network Facebook. Link
2 Facebook job ads: how to attract job candidates CZ 2019 The case study aims to describe the recruitment process and identify challenges connected with hiring through social media in a selected company in the bakery industry. The paper focuses on proposing recommendations which could help company to build a strong employer brand, attract potential candidates and get new users on its Facebook business page. Findings in this paper confirmed an importance of using Facebook for finding new employees, as well as a need of sharing information about corporate culture, lifestyle and working activities with active Facebook users. The main attention is paid to creating a job advertisement and presenting possibilities for sharing posts with job offers through Facebook. Link
3 Challenges in Recruitment of Young Manual Workers  CZ 2017 This case study deals with a problem that is relevant to many companies today, namely challenges in recruiting young manual workers. The problem was analysed in a Czech SME from the Liberec region that operates in the metal industry. To solve this problem, it is necessary to analyse the needs and expectations of a different generation. This case study provides a manual on the proper content for communications, including job ads, choosing the optimal communication channel, and adjusting benefits. Link
4 Finding Talent on Social Media  CZ 2017 This case study describes the story of an SME located in the Liberec region, Czech Republic and its human resource management challenges. It is a company with a 20-year tradition in the ecological recycling of refrigerators and other electrical and electronic waste. Right now, the SME is facing a lack of new, young talented people. Thus, the challenge is to start engaging young people, especially generation Z. To that end, this case study is trying to provide a short guide on how to start using social media for communicating with this generation, in particular Instagram. A practical tool is provided in the appendix: a step-by-step guide for how to start using Instagram.  Link
5 Home Sweet Home in Kajaani FIN 2018 At times, it is not easy for SMEs located in a remote location to recruit the right talent to fill vacancies. This is the case for the partner SME in this case study. This SME is growing rapidly and needed experienced programmers in mobile games development. However, such talent is scarce for several reasons: first, the SME is in a new industry sector; secondly, the location is far away from bigger cities or other ICT clusters; thirdly, experienced software engineers with specific programming language are needed. Thus, the partner SME decided to attract talent from abroad. To support foreign employees to settle successfully into the new environment, the SME has collaborated with the SHARPEN project to study the phases of on-boarding and to develop a practical tool that will help the HR manager to support the new foreign employees and their families through a systematic approach. The objective is to help these workers to settle as quickly as possible so that they can feel at home in the new working and living environment.   Link
6 Staff Selection Problems LIT 2019 The case study describes a medium-sized freight forwarding company, which provides sustainable solutions in logistics as well as services for supply chain management. In order for the company to achieve good results, it is necessary to have determined employees with good skills in spoken English. The aim of this study, therefore, is to determine the level of English language of every person applying for a job in this company and offer solutions for better employee selection. The company faces several challenges: there is no precise system to check a person's spoken English and staff turnover caused by poor English knowledge. After analysing the results, it was concluded that the best way to find out the English knowledge of a job candidate is verification of both speaking and writing, because both criteria of the English language are important in any position. Candidates were required to write a letter to a client or to another company on a job related topic and text perception tasks. Link
7 How to attract young graduates through university collaborations FIN 2019 SHARPEN Team #1: This case study focuses on SMEs and their university relations. Based on literature used for this case study, differences in the needs of generation Z compared with previous generations must be addressed if SMEs want to attract young talent. To learn more about this, a survey was conducted with university students, and interviews were held both with university students and the case study company's CEO and HR manager. The survey results concurred with what was learned from literature, and based on the survey and interviews, recommendations were made. Recommendations included practical ways for SMEs to attract a younger workforce, such as attending university events as guest speakers and advertising jobs on an application meant for university students, as well as a checklist for maintaining and increasing existing visibility among the potential workforce.
SHARPEN Team #2:
The case study describes the challenges with recruitment and retention of young graduates at a regional SME, ABC Oy. The case study focuses on how to attract new graduate students to the company and how ABC Oy could collaborate better with its local university to increase the SME's visibility and employer brand students and graduates. In order to understand the situation, key staff in the university and the CEO and HR manager of the case study company were interviewed. A survey was also carried out with university students.
SHARPEN Team #1: Link

SHARPEN Team #2: Link
8 Dealing with responsibility challengesin SME´s GER 2019 This case study is about responsibility and how to deal with it in growing medium-sized enterprises. In this case it is an unfortunate truth that young people in particular quit their job because they were overwhelmed with a rapid rise in levels responsibility. Their personal development cannot keep up with the increased levels of responsibility. To find out whether or not applicants possess the competences required for taking responsibility, please refer to the practical tool in the case appendix. Link
9 Managing people without an HR department in a sports bar SME: a teaching case study UK 2019 This case study explores the perspective of a part-time training manager in a long-established SME and members' only sports bar where there is no formal HR Manager. The focus is on customer service training for bar staff. The case explains that the role is extended to enhance the recruitment and selection of new staff. This case discusses the importance of providing more than just basic HR benefits and the benefits of leveraging the organisation's brand to support new staff recruitment.  Link

Chapter 3: Employee Turnover and Retention Management

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 Employee Turnover LIT 2018 The case study describes a small-sized company which is a leisure and sports centre for all. The company faces a problem of employee turnover because in the last year the majority of employees have changed. Because of the high turnover of employees, the present employees lose motivation and consequently labour efficiency decreases. The research revealed that the most common reasons for employee turnover are financial, search for new opportunities and personal issues. As the results of the survey have shown, the majority of employees indicated tangible means of motivation to be more effective as incentives to remain in the organisation Link
2 Employee Turnover and Retention  LIT 2019 The case study describes a medium-sized company where there is a wide scope of activities that include logistics, cargo transportation, freight forwarding, container transportation, customs brokerage, shipping agency, port services, warehousing, container sales, ship-broker services, heavyweight cargo transportation, oversized cargo transportation.  The aim of the study is to reveal the challenges that the company faces in the area of staff turnover and retention. After analysing the results, a form of employee needs assessment was offered. Moreover, the means for implementing employee retention (work, environment, means of work, development and career opportunities, relationships with managers, work and free time balance, reward, relationship with colleagues) were recommended in the study. Link
3 Welding of induction process  CZ 2017 This case study deals with HR issues in a selected company operating in the welding industry. First, the company, its HR processes and HR challenges are introduced. Its most important challenge is its induction process. The theoretical basis of this area is introduced. Based on the company's needs and other secondary data, the case study then suggests solutions. Some tools to improve an induction process are proposed, because if the induction process is not properly established, it can lead to rather large problems. One result is that more employees tend to leave jobs with poor induction processes during their first year. Link
4 How to get the hard skills soft? CZ 2018 This case study deals with an issue which is specific for companies in science and technology industry. Unlike most companies in the Liberec region, the company from this case study does not have a problem with recruiting new employees. It does not even lack skilled employees. There is, however, a lack of soft skills in the company. Soft skills such as communication, management, presentation and leadership skills are crucial for SMEs in order to compete with large companies. This case study describes the company's situation, gives basic information about learning and development and soft skills in the company. It also introduces two practical tools that can be used when employees lack soft skills. Link
5 Learn to use internal communication effectively CZ 2019 The following case study describes a chosen company – its purpose, the structure of the organisation and its internal communications. The objective of the study is to focus on communication, analyse the attitudes, communication channels and challenges inside the company. Solutions based on a questionnaire are then proposed. The chosen solutions should be correctly used to effectively help in the chosen area. The case study will also explore the theory of communication, to describe the difference between verbal and nonverbal communication and show three directions of communication. It also introduces all forms of communication and their tools. Link
6 How could the traditional textile industry be more attractive to the employees? CZ 2019 An organisation managed with competent employees can propel any organisation to greater heights through the retention of valuable employees and the development of a good employer brand. This case study analyses the human resource management challenges faced in a selected company operating in the carpet production industry. The case study is aimed at proposing practical tools and strategies to aid in the minimisation of employee turnover, ultimately bettering the status of the company as an employer of choice. Besides proposing tools and strategies, the paper also examines the importance of building a strong employer brand as a tool to increase loyalty and reduce the turnover rate. Based on an analysis of the company's needs, we created a short, structured set of questions to be used as a part of the exit interview process. A proposal for exit interview process was created for the purpose of improving the employer brand, employee loyalty and to provide a benchmark to ensure continued improvement. Link

Chapter 4: Employee Motivation and Reward Management

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 I don't just work here, I belong here! FIN 2017 Sharpen Team #1 and #2: The merger of two sister SMEs had impacted the motivation and productivity of the surviving, post-merger SME. The CEO and the HR Manager believed the development of a good reward system which is linked to clearly defined business goals would help to focus the employees and motivate them to excel again. The case study explains some basics about employee motivation and how the reward system can be linked to performance. It also identifies a selection of non-financial rewards which are suitable for SMEs.  Link
2 Is Employees Intrinsic Motivation Important in SMEs? LIT 2018 The case study describes medium-sized company working in service and food production and supply sector. The HR problem is emigration of the labour force. The general trend of emigration influences the labour force in this company, it is becoming more and more difficult to find new employees and to keep them. The company has to compete not only with the local companies, but also to stick to the general trends in the labour market in the European Union. The practical solution for this company was to rise employee motivation by: Regularly feedback and attention to every employee; Employee involvement in companies improvement and decision making; Monthly employees plans. Link
3 What are the best ways to motivate your employees? LIT 2018 The case study describes a medium-sized company that specializes in customs services: it provides customs intermediary services in all customs posts in Lithuania, it carries out an audit of customs procedures, organizes trainings and consults on the issues of the law of customs, making intra-stat accounts. Aim of the work – to analyse means of human resources motivation applied in the organization. After taking into account the surveys and the obtained information the company's SWOT table was formed with its strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities. The company's organizational structure, the most important employee motivation methods and opportunities are analysed. For the company it is important to care constantly, consistently of implementation of motivation means in the company and to increase employee satisfaction with their help. These assumptions can contribute directly to the improvement of economic and financial results of the company: growth of employee job satisfaction, employee loyalty, labour efficiency, turnover and other financial indices. Link
4 Employee Motivation LIT 2019 The case study describes a medium-sized publishing and printing house. The aims of the SME in the case study are to: to improve the results of employee activity by clarifying the system gaps which exist in the company and to predict opportunities for improving the system and the problems concerning employee motivation. The company has several main problems of employee management, which can temporarily interrupt the activity of the company. These problems include lack of employee motivation, ineffective employee motivation systems, low wages, employee qualification levels. All this causes a worsening in quality of employee performance and does not inspire employees to remain in their workplaces. Analysis of the system of motivation measures in the publishing and printing house leads to a conclusion that currently the company has to improve its existing motivation measures. Action planning for improving motivation measures include: extra payments depending on results; gratitude, appraisals; improved wages; positive relationships with colleagues; lack of data on the organisation's motivation system.   Link
5 Motivation – A Key Factor GER 2019 This case study deals with the topic of motivation in a medium-sized enterprise in Saxony, Germany. The HR problem is a decrease in satisfaction, which could be explained by a lack of motivation in the employees. The research problem is to establish if and why the employees in the case study company are not as motivated as they used to be. The practical part of this case study focuses on applying theoretical HR knowledge to the case study company. A survey with specific motivation-orientated questions has been designed. Link

Chapter 5: Performance Management

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 Waste of Performance  CZ 2018 The case study deals with the issue of employee performance appraisal in a chosen SME operating in a recycling industry. The case study focuses on HR challenges in the process of employee performance appraisal. The case study brings a literature overview of performance evaluation process. Solutions, based on the needs of the company and further secondary data, are introduced as well as tools suggested to improve the evaluation process. Link
2 Employee evaluation  LIT 2018 The case study describes a successfully growing medium-sized furniture making and sales company. The aim of the study is to analyse the specifics of the system of employee assessment in the organisation and opportunities for development of this system. The main problem the furniture company faces is the poor quality of work produced by employees who are members of generation Y. Most representatives of this generation communicate very well amongst their peers in finding general solutions, but the quality of work often suffers in terms of meeting specific quality requirements. Step-by-step suggestions for the improvement of employee performance assessment are offered: to specify the assessment criteria more clearly; to include the opinion of co-workers of the worker being assessed in the assessment results; to improve motivation systems; to change formal assessment with more effective methods such as regular daily conversations; to set clear goals for the coming period of assessment; to ensure a performance evaluation system that is fit for purpose. Link
3 Performance management system  LIT 2018 The case study describes a medium-sized wholesale and retail trade company. The aim of this study is to determine the system of employee performance management existing in the company and to foresee the possibilities for its development. These are the problems that many SMEs face, such as an insufficient employee motivation, low salary, lack of labour force, unimproved employee motivation, bad organizational culture and the most important – a weakening quality of employee performance.  Solution 1: to formalize the employee assessment system. Solution 2: to create a formal system of planning employee performance which would be oriented towards an individual contact with an employee to support corporate goals and collaboration that is jointly agreed. Link
4 No Competency Model No Success in a Glass World  CZ 2017 This case study is focused on the analysis of strengths and weaknesses of a chosen company that is working in the glass industry. The company's HR challenges were analysed, and a suitable solution was proposed based on the discovered results. The main challenge identified in this company's human resource management was the structure of their competency model. The practical tool suggests how to create or improve an effective competency model. Link

Chapter 6: Employer Branding

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 How to be an attractive SME for future vocational trainees  GER 2017 This case study deals with employer branding in a medium-sized enterprise in Saxony, Germany. The HR problem is to increase the attractiveness of the employer for future vocational trainees. The research problem is to find ways how the case company can compete against other attractive employers and to identify potential problems that could prevent young people from applying to work for them. The practical part of this case study focuses on applying HR theory to the case study company. A strategy and specific methods for emphasizing and communicating to the target audience are recommended. Link
2 How to make your SME attractive to international employees  GER 2017 This case study describes an HR issue relating employer branding in a medium-sized enterprise in Saxony, Germany. The research problem is to find ways how a regionally attractive employer can also become attractive on the international labour market and what contribution HR in the company can make to this. The case study aims at establishing recruitment process steps to help SMEs be more attractive to international employees. The practical part of this case study focuses on applying theoretical HR knowledge to the case study company and to establish a step-by-step instruction for an ideal recruitment process. Link
3 Employer Branding – Gravitate Workers as Small or Medium Enterprises  GER 2017 This case study describes an HR issue relating to employer branding in a medium-sized enterprise of the logistics sector in Saxony, Germany. The research problem is to find ways how a company in a comparably unattractive and competitive branch can be more attractive, despite low wage levels. The case study aims at identifying benefits of the case company and establish a strong employer brand. The practical part of this case study focuses on applying theoretical HR knowledge regarding reputation management to the case study company. Link

The 'hottest' job in the 'coolest' place on earth!

FIN 2018 The partner SME faced challenges to attract and retain young talent in the company. In this research, the SHARPEN team identified gaps and recommended solutions to help the partner SME improves its employer brand in the eyes of the young talent and professionals. Link

Chapter 7: Employee Participation and Ownership

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 How to engage your employees for more (intangible) participation  GER 2018 This case study deals with a highly developed medium-sized company in the engineering and architectural sector in Saxony, Germany. The problem to be addressed is the SME's lack of suitable mechanisms to engage the SME's employees for more active participation.  The practical part of this case study focuses on applying HR knowledge to the employee ownership problem in order to implement measures for more immaterial employee participation. Link
2 How to engage employees in SMEs for meaningful participation  GER 2018 The case study discusses employee engagement in a highly developed medium-sized company in the engineering and architectural sector. The HR problem is the lack of suitable ways to engage their employees for more material participation, With the help of these participation models, employees can not only be appropriately remunerated for their activities and – if relevant – for their higher risk acceptance. The practical part of this case study focuses on applying HR knowledge to the employee ownership problem in order to identify possible steps for more substantive employee participation. Link
3 How to engage employees for material participation and to ensure company succession  GER 2018 The case study describes a highly developed medium-sized company in the engineering and architectural sector. The HR problem is to find ways for the SME to ensure the long-term existence of the company through entrepreneurial investments. The practical part of this case study focuses on applying HR knowledge to the employee ownership problem in order to explore new ways of employee participation in order to achieve four goals in particular: (i) to make the company attractive for new employees; (ii) to deepen the loyalty of current employees to the company; (iii) to management succession in the company from within its own ranks and thus (iv) to secure the company's survival.  Link

Chapter 8: Corporate Social Responsibility

  Case Name Country Abstract Case Link
1 Where to look for employees, when there are none?  CZ 2018 This assignment addresses the issue of shortage of workers, a problem affecting an increasing number of companies. The problem has been inspected in a Czech SME from the Liberec region that manufactures chemicals. A cooperation with nearby prison facility was suggested and three options were considered and evaluated. First two options were associated with the employment of prisoners during their imprisonment, either in the factory or in the prison´s facility. Last type of examined cooperation represented the option of employing prisoners after their release from prison. The practical tool should help the management with choosing the best option of employing prisoners. Link
2 The integration of disabled people LIT 2019 The case study describes a medium-sized branch of a retail company in the Klaipeda region. The aim of this work is to analyse a company's strategies in the integration of disabled workers and the challenges that the company faces. The company, which has recently started to employ disabled staff faces difficulties in integrating these new workers. This is a successful example of a company helping disabled workers to adapt to the workplace. The case demonstrates the importance of a permanent line manager responsible for disabled workers. It emphasizes that the line manager also needs help to support these workers. The case includes a checklist table which can be used by a line manager as a guideline in the process of supervision. The checklist helps to ensure that both the new employee and their line manager know what has or has not been covered at any given time. Both line manager and employee use a copy of this checklist which needs to be kept up-to-date, so they can track progress. The checklist serves as a reminder of anything that needs particular attention. Link
3 Recruitment and well-being in early years childcare UK 2019 Yorkshire Childcare, a family-run private nursery chain, is operating in the context of a UK staffing crisis for nurseries. This case identifies the key HRM challenges. It shows that employee attraction can be enhanced by providing more realistic information on website job boards, e.g. YouTube videos and testimonials. Opportunities for student placements should be promoted using multiple social media to support the search engine optimisation activities that are outsourced. The rise in mental health difficulties, resulting in increased employee absence, indicates that increasing employee awareness of the mental health issues is an HR priority to enhance employee well-being, e.g. through peer support and to reduce pressure on the owner manager. Link

Diversity management and professionalising HRM in Deluxe Beds Ltd.

UK 2018

Deluxe Beds Ltd (DB) https://deluxebedsltd.com/ is an ethnic minority family owned, manufacturing company established in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire (UK) in 1995. Operating on a business-to-business (B2B) basis, DB is one of the leading beds and mattresses manufacturers in the UK, with nearly 100 staff members employed. This case study illustrates the benefits of diversity management and social inclusion in ensuring an employer reflects diversity in the local community. This is the story of the appointment of a new female managing director who has benefited from working closely with the local university in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to professionalize HR practices.  This case highlights the challenges of managing people in a family-owned SME.

Technical University in Liberec, Faculty of Economics