Huddersfield round table
The SHARPEN round table hosted by Dr Julie Davies and Dr Muhibul Haq on 20 June 2019 at Huddersfield Business School on managing people in ethnic minority owned regional micro businesses included excellent presentations from Eastern Catering and Engineering, Deluxe Beds, LTR10 Creative and Radio Sangam. We discussed recruitment and retention, health and safety, cultural sensitivity, knowledge management and talent and succession management as well as internationalisation. We also talked about the value of social media conversations and awareness raising rather than direct selling, community radio advertising, and SME-university synergies for student projects and government bids such as knowledge transfer partnerships.
Final student meeting!
today, 12th June, we met for the last time as a group with our Czech SHARPEN student team. We talked about the progress of the case studies and then the leader of the SHARPEN project, Ms. Marsikova, gave the students certificates proving that they completed the project. After that, we treated ourselves to some coffee and cakes to mark the nearing of the end of the project.
The last transnational meeting!
On Thursday and Friday, the SHARPEN project team met for the last time "face to face". We discussed what needs to be done and the last details of how will the project end. It was a day filled with hard work but we managed to decide on all the important issues and we believe that the project will end as a complete success.
Final presentations Germany
Today the German SHARPEN student team presented their case studies at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau. We had two very interesting presentations and it was a positive ending for a succesful semester of cooperation with our five partner universities as well as the case study companies.
Huddersfield conference 'Managing People: The Challenges and Opportunities for Small Business'
On Wednesday 5th June, the final international conference of the SHARPEN project took place. Together with the BAM conference the day before, it brought together the best professionals and experts in HRM in SMEs. First, Katerina Marsikova and Julie Davies presented the SHARPEN project and each country representative then presented key findings from their respective region. Afterwards, we heard several amazing talks from both practitioners and academics. Representative from a family HR consultancy Tracey Hopkins talked about the snowball effect and how you can prevent HR problems from becoming an avalanche even before they form into a small snowball. CIPD representative John McGurk then talked about their research into HRM in SMEs and how it works in regions and nations of the UK. After lunch, there were several workshops focused on social media in the workplace, bullying, attracting candidates and employment law. Professor Jeff Gold then summed up the workshops and led a panel discussion about the key issues that emerged from the workshops. Two leading academics, Prof. Alexandros Psychogios from Birmingham City University and Dr. Rob Wapshott from University of Sheffield, presented key notes and highlighted the problems of formal and informal HRM in SMEs. The last session before wrap-up was led by Andrew Peart from Emerald Publishing. Andrew talked about impact and how we can publish our results. And that was it. An amazing and intensive day filled with presentations, workshops, discussions and networking.
SHARPEN project presented at a British Academy of Management event focused on HRM in SMEs.
Today, the SHARPEN team presented our project and its results in Birmingham as a part of a prestigious BAM conference. The whole conference revolved around the topic of Human Resource challenges in SMEs and how research can bring value to SMEs. The SHARPEN project fits perfectly in this framework since it works directly with SMEs. You can see the presentation here.
SHARPEN student workshop at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau
Before this year's Multiplier Event at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau, the SHARPEN student team organised a workshop for fellow students at the faculty of Business Sciences. Especially the pictures and stories of the ISP week in Lithuania seemed to interest the students and we're hoping to see many of them again next year as students in the international HR module devised during the SHARPEN project.
Multiplier Event at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau
After long and extensive preparation, the conference on the prospects of human resource management in SMEs took place last Wednesday 22nd May at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau. Besides presenting this year's case studies and the SHARPEN project itself, participants were offered an interesting program consisting of lectures on digitised HR marketing and Lifelong Learning. Companies as well as students were able to exchange useful information and establish contacts with each other during the three roundtable workshops, chaired by this year's student team and project team member Angie Seidel. Thank you for this great afternoon!
As a part of SHARPEN project we collaborated with ČSOB bank to give our students a chance to prepare for assessment centres. We visited the bank's headquarters in Prague, learned about the bank and then our students were given assessment centre-like tasks so that they could develop themselves, increase their chances of employment and learn how assessment centres are conducted. It was an amazing experience and we thank the ČSOB bank for their support.
Workshop in the CZ
Yesterday, the Czech SHARPEN team presented their case studies at a "Human resource management in SMEs in the Liberec region" workshop. The students showed amazing progress in their work and we really appreciate their efforts.
The fifth and the last day of ISP!
After traditionally great breakfast we took part in an international conference "Future of Work" that was organized under the SHARPEN project. Several amazing speakers (including our very own project members) talked about trends in Human Resource Management and the challenges and opportunities these trends pose to Small and Medium sized Enterprises. After that we had a few concluding sessions, wrapping up the ISP and looking ahead at our future project responsibilities. We ended the ISP by saying goodbye and, of course, by having a cake. Good luck to everyone!
Transnational Meeting Klaipeda.
On Saturday we had our Transnational meeting. Important topics such as the budget and the output finalization were discussed. We also agreed on a detailed plan of the following months. After that we summarized the ISP and thanked our amazing hosts for a perfect organisation of the whole week.
SHARPEN team Czech Republic would like to inform you that on April 16th we will have a workshop where our student teams will introduce their case studies to their student colleagues.
Preparation for German Multiplier Event
Yesterday the German Multiplier Event organisation team met again to discuss the planning and tasks ahead of our 2019 Multiplier Event scheduled for 22nd May. We are looking forward to an interesting conference at the University of Applied Sciences in Zwickau. Program and more details to follow soon!
Fourth day of ISP!
The team spirit of the SHARPEN team is still strong. We laboured on through the morning sessions and excellent student presentations. We heard about several more companies and their HR challenges. We also discussed intercultural communication. After that we went to Nida! This amazing place on the Curonian Spit which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trip was truly wonderful even thought the weather was a bit foggy as you can see on the pictures.
Third day of ISP!
Probably the most exhausting day. We had a long day full of lectures, workshops and team presentations. Czech team sucessfully presented 3 companies they cooperate with (Bláha bakery, SunDisk and Associated Weawers). All the students managed to maintain their focus until the very end and at half past 5 were awarded with dinner after which they were free to explore Klaipeda. We would like to thank our students for their effort and please keep it on! Two more days to go.
The second day of ISP!
Tuesday was a wonderful day that started off with a short session during which the students received instructions for the company visits that followed. We visited three very interesting companies: a publishing house, a coworking space and a power plant. Each company gave us a tour and responded to the students' questions. We have to say that the companies were very friendly and welcoming and we are very happy that we were able to visit them. After that we had a short reflection session and that was the end of the "working day".
Last day of preparation for ISP week in Klaipeda. Everybody are included - SHARPEN team students, lecturers, administration. We are really excited and can't wait to meet everyone in Klaipeda for intensive, productive and full of great experience week.
The final Czech Meeting before the ISP in Lithuania
our last meeting before the ISP went along very nicely. The atmosphere was full of excitement as we discussed the last details of our trip to Lithuania. We also discussed the progress in the companies and had a presentation on Social Media and Recruitment from one of the students.
Lithuanian SHARPEN project students exploring regional SMEs in order to prepare for upcoming ISP week in Klaipeda. SMEs HRM practitioners from three different enterprises discussed HRM related issues in the region and shared best practices with our students.
Third Czech Meeting!
During the third Czech SHARPEN team meeting (6th March) we discussed the progress in companies, administrative issues, had presentations from students about their theoretical topics and mainly...we intensively prepared for the upcoming ISP! The whole team is working very well and everyone is looking forward to the journey to Lithuania.
Greetings from Germany! :)
This Tuesday, we, the students from the University of Applied Sciences in Zwickau, continued our intensive preparation for the ISP in Lithuania. In addition to our HR lectures, we also made our final organizational adjustments before the ISP. Since there are less than 2 weeks before the ISP week kicks off, we discussed various aspects of our journey and checked if everything was going as planned. So far, everything looks perfect and our excitement for our time in Lithuania keeps growing!
See you soon!
The Czech SHARPEN team continues with an intensive preparation for the ISP. Today, as a part of the learning module, our students listened to three lectures from two of the university's experts on topics "Value added for participating companies", "GDPR, personal data and your SHARPEN project" and "Qualitative and quantitative research". We hope these lectures helped prepare our students for their company visits and case study creation.
CZECH SHARPEN TEAM MEETING
The Czech SHARPEN team has met on Wednesady 13th to discuss the learning module and company visits. We are also starting to prepare for the 2019 ISP in Lithuania.
On Tuesday, 29th January, 2019, the Czech SHARPEN team organised a very successful event. It focused on digitalization, robotics and AI in SMEs and proved to be a hit with the audience. Not only did we have an amazing panel of experts, we even had a member of Czech parliament in attendance who promised his support for SMEs. In the first part several topics related to digitalization and robotics were introduced by experts. As a part of this session Sharpen project survey results related to digitalization were introduced and also activities of the Faculty of Economics (EconLab and Web design) and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at TUL. After the coffee break participants of the panel session presented their opinion about importance of robots in manual work, collaborative robots role, ethics and legal aspects and approach of SMEs to this topic. More than 50 people in in the audience enjoyed this event which brought a fruitful discussion. Everything watched a humanoid robot Matylda. You can see more photos from the event in the gallery.
SHARPEN Kick-off Meeting in KAMK
SHARPEN project team took part in the workshop organised by the National Agency in Prague. As a part of the workshop the SHARPEN project coordinator was involved in a panel discussion and presented her experience with the project. The panel talked about challenges, difficulties and successes of their projects and hopefully inspired others to participate in Erasmus .
SHARPEN team Czech Republic proudly presents another event that will take place on 29th January in Liberec. This year, we will discuss the future of SMEs. Will people manage machines or machines manage people?
SHARPEN @ ZWIK Warm-Up talk
The SHARPEN project was presented to regional companies and students during our ZWIK Warm-up talk event on 14th November. The ZWIK is a company and university contact fair in Zwickau and it was already organised for the 20th time!
We had a great time talking about HR topics with company representatives and students!
The SHARPEN study module was presented at WHZ to approximately 250 students by Prof. Angela Walter on Monday 3rd December. The aim of this event was to interest students in the module and to start our recruitment process for the 2019 module including the ISP in Lithuania.
Project SHARPEN was presented during this year's CZEDUCON! Czeducon is a forum about international university education. This year it marked the celebration of 20 years of Erasmus in the Czech Republic.
Dr Julie Davies presented results of the UK SHARPEN survey to HR professionals from hospices in the Yorkshire and Humber region at a workshop on 17 October 2018.
Key challenges included values-based recruitment; managing volunteers; attracting younger workers with social media; healthy ageing workforce; age diversity; trustees with HR expertise; well-being; cross-functional communications; choosing reliable computerised HR systems; Brexit.
Academic Appointed as Trustee of Kirkwood Hospice
Dr Julie Davies, HR Subject Group Leader, has been appointed as a Trustee of Kirkwood Hospice as it develops its new strategy and branding campaign to 'spread the word'.
Julie has worked closely with Kirkwood since 2015. Kirkwood Hospice's CEO, Michael Crowther, and HR Manager, Chris Newbery, regularly provide workshops for Master's and Top-up students on the HR Strategy and People Resourcing. These modules are related to a case study co-authored by Peter Emsell and Julie Davies on managing volunteers in a social enterprise.
Six students on the Erasmus Plus SHARPEN project on HRM in regional SMEs completed dissertations at Kirkwood Hospice and Julie Davies, Dinuka Herath and Alex Kevill (Leeds University) will present a poster at the November Hospice UK annual conference. This term, we will run a competition for five Business School students to join the SHARPEN team in Lithuania at the end of March 2019 Intensive Study Programme week and to work on case studies with local SMEs. Kirkwood welcomes student projects on branding, employer branding, skills and workforce development and reward management.
Dr Julie Davies, HR Subject Group Leader
Talents recruitment again in KAMK!
Two short videos are made to introduce the SHARPEN project to KAMK students and SMEs in Kainuu. The purpose is to invite them to be part of the program for Spring 2019 where the ISP week will take place in the lovely city of Klaipeda by the Baltic Sea. The application will be opened soon and I am looking forward to working with another group of motivated, proactive and engaging students.
Video 1: Without narration: https://youtu.be/Q5MHa5vv-Ig (2 min)
Video 2: With narration: https://youtu.be/vyypwldzlpo (2.5min)
eHandbook contents are brewing hot!
After many hours of planning, designing, exploring, reviewing and adjusting based on good inputs from SHARPEN partners over the months, finally, the chapter concept for the HRM eHandbook is available to solicit for more feedback and suggestions.
The draft contents of this chapter are developed based on 2017 KAMK Sharpen team's outputs. However, these are still work-in-progress. Now, the main objective is to finalize the style and format so that all parties involved in producing the contents can create consistent inputs.
Our aim is to make one practical guide for SMEs which is simple to use, easy to understand using layman language with attractive, interactive presentation and sharing good case stories from our partner companies.
Onboarding Critical Forces - Home Sweet Home in Kajaani is now ready!
Another KAMK team's hard work is now packaged and delivered. Although the closing meeting has yet to take place next week, as I finalized the report and outputs, I can already visualize some potential collaborations as a result of the team's recommendations.
The good news is, the SME partner has done a great job to onboard their foreign talents so far; this is achieved by applying their own experiences gained when they lived and worked abroad before living in Kajaani. However, the knowledge of onboarding is currently 'saved' in a few people's heads. These need to be downloaded and re-organized, structured and place in an easily accessible channel. Also, a good guide supported by a good policy for onboarding foreign employees are needed too so that such efforts can be delegated, re-distributed to various employees in the team without creating chaos and inconsistent experiences to the new kids on the block.
The scope of this project is to identify the gaps and provide some quick fix ideas by interviewing 7 foreign employees and 4 HR personnel. To develop the latter package of solutions, it would mean more project collaboration is needed as the scope requires a lot more resources to develop and documented.
Thanks to Jalmari, Nikke, Marc, and Valtteri, also our courageous SME who entrusted us with the research!
Video link: https://www.powtoon.com/online-presentation/fsvocRxJlyN/?mode=movie
Employer Branding and SMEs
After three long months, several versions and revisions, the outputs for two of the three SMEs in the 2018 SHARPEN project are not presented and discussed with the HR Manager. The tools, solutions, and recommendations are handed over and will be further explored internally in the company. It is worth mentioning that, the senior management has expressed their gratitude for the outputs from the 2017 project. Many of the suggestions and ideas were put to implementation and people management strategies are now officially on the company's strategic roadmap; It is observed that there are positive changes in the employees' motivation, engagement, and attitudes since the research. We hope this year's output will be equally valuable :) It feels great that the project can make a small difference to make our SMEs better :D
Video link: https://www.powtoon.com/c/g3n9MDifuL4/1/m Thanks to Aile, Alexandra and Yasir for the research and deliverables.
Research 'Home Sweet Home at Kajaani' - How to onboarding foreign employees
Another interesting topic in collaboration with an ICT SME which has a very positive challenge. It has been growing at rocket speed and scaling up from a 20 headcount team to 80 staff in less than three years. This is a hard task especially in a tiny city with less than 40 000 inhabitants with an accelerating rate of aging population. Thus, recruiting from abroad is the most practical solution. However, onboarding new, highly talented foreign employees and their family to a tiny, quiet town could be challenging especially many are taken from much larger cities around the globe. How do they get a realistic view of the job, also the living environment etc. to make an informed decision to relocate and be happy? how to settle their family and overcome the cultural shock as gently as possible? These are only few of the questions the SHARPEN team needed to address in their project. Watch the space for their final report.
Read a very interesting article about SHARPEN project on the University of Huddersfield website.
Dr Julie Davies, HR Subject Group Leader, has been appointed as a Trustee of Kirkwood Hospice as it develops its new strategy and branding campaign to 'spread the word'. Julie has worked closely with Kirkwood since 2015, particularly in relation to the SHARPEN project. Kirkwood's CEO, Michael Crowther, and HR Manager, Chris Newbery, regularly provide workshops for Master's and top-up students on the HR Strategy and People Resourcing modules related to a case study co-authored by Peter Emsell and Julie Davies on managing volunteers in a social enterprise. Six students on the Erasmus Plus SHARPEN project on HRM in regional SMEs completed dissertations at Kirkwood and Julie Davies, Dinuka Herath and Alex Kevill (Leeds University) will present a poster at the November Hospice UK annual conference. This term, we will run a competition for five Business School students to join the SHARPEN team in Lithuania at the end of March 2019 Intensive Study Programme week and to work on case studies with local SMEs. Kirkwood welcomes student projects on branding, employer branding, skills and workforce development and reward management.
Newspaper coverage in the UK
We've secured some fantastic coverage in the UK. On the picture you can see a piece in the Yorkshire Post today. Articles were also published on
The Czech student team is finishing their assignments! After months of hard work and company visits, the SHARPEN teachers and students held several individual consultations during which the students' case studies were discussed. The students now prepare selected tools for the companies that will hopefully help the companies in their HR struggles. Additionally, the students are experimenting with Powtoon to explain the theoretical concpets of their chosen topics!
Huddersfield Business School's SHARPEN round table on HRM in Regional SMEs in the Data Driven Economy was held on 3 July for local SMEs, students, academics and consultants. Presenters pictured included Hanna Turunen, Herman IT, Finland; Dr Julie Davies, Huddersfield Business School; Peter Hannaford, Chairman of Datacenter People; Prof. Maureen Meadows, Coventry University; and Dr Frederik Situmean, Amsterdam University. There was a focus on digital inclusion, small data, trust and applications for government research and innovation bids with consortia of stakeholders.
The German SHARPEN-team had its final presentation on Wednesday, 4th July at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau. Our students for the second year of the learning module (Jessica, Lena, Kathrin, Anna and Gero) presented their final results. After a short description of the region and the selected regional SME the analysis of the HRM was followed by practical solutions and a final conclusion. The students did a great job and were able to improve their practical experiences as well as the intercultural competencies during the project and especially during the great ISP in Kajaani, Finland.
Yesterday Lithuanian SHARPEN team performed their Multiplier Event. Starting with introduction about SHARPEN project and it's results to the SMEs HRM professionals and enterpreneurs. Continuing with Vaidotas Granickas, doctor of law in a field of social sciences with many years of law practice, whom introduced changes in Lithuanian labor law and it's impact in SME's HRM. After that LLC Personnel Value for Business Manager and HR consultant Jolita Lauciuviene presented a topic about attracting and retaining employees in a competitive environment in a field of SME's. Finally there were a round table discusion about practical aspects of personnel management which brought a lot of practical benefits to participating guests from Klaipeda region SME's.
Onboarding 'Critical work Force'
After six intensive weeks, one team presented to the SME today. The research focuses on onboarding self-expatriating employees who chose to work in a country outside their home countries for various reasons e.g. gain new experiences, a better life for family, better education for children etc.
In SMEs, every employee counts. Thus, it is absolutely critical to ensure the foreign employee made the right decision to move and take up the new job, and is given every support to be productive asap upon relocation.
Through the team's research, a checklist of activities and materials are developed for four stages of the recruitment and onboarding cycle. Generally, the foreign employees interviewed are very satisfied and happy with the support they receive. However, one of the gaps identified is the lack of systematic collection of materials for onboarding every new foreign staff. So, putting the checklist will give a structure and process guide for future cases.
Also, three areas were identified for further improvements. So, the team will provide some basic materials for further development via separate projects in the Autumn e.g. information related to taxes, child-care payments, social securities; ingredients and food guide; private and public health care system in Finland.
Overall, it has been a great experience for the team, and we learned a lot through the project. We hope the client will receive something useful from the final report which will be submitted by the end of July.
Lithuanian SHARPEN team will performe a multiplier event on June 20th. During the event Vaidotas Granickas, doctor of law in a field of social sciences with many years of law practice will introduce changes in Lithuanian labor law and it's impact in SME's HRM. LLC Personnel Value for Business Manager and HR consultant Jolita Lauciuviene will present a topic about attracting and retaining employees in a competitive environment in a field of SME's. After these short lectures there will be a round table discussion about practical aspects of personnel management with participating guests from Klaipeda region SME's. The event will be conducted in Lithuanian language.
Multiplier Event - ERASMUS-Project SHARPEN on 30 May 2018
at University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany
Erasmus KA2 Strategic Partnership No : 2016-1-CZ01-KA203 -023916
Last wednesday the German Sharpen-team performed their Multiplier Event. Starting with a little introduction of our leader Mrs Professor Walter. Continuing with a guest HRM Professor of HTWK Leipzig University of Applied Sciences. He spoke about innovative systems in HRM for SMEs. After that the Sharpen team presented the project results of the region of Westsaxony. In conclusion we had have a round table talk with 5 topics which we discussed in mixed groups of students and enterpreneurs. It was a succseful day with a lot of exchange of informations.
"Assessment centre" workshop for TUL students
On Monday 21st May 2018 Czech students had the opportunity to try out undergoing an assessment centre styled workshop with the Faculty of Economics long-time partner and one of the most popular banks in Czech Republic: ČSOB, a.s.
The goal of the assessment centre was to experience and practice how this important tool of the recruitment process works. Students found out how capable they are of fulfilling leading roles in a team, company or simply a group of people. Two HR specialists and one member of the management from the ČSOB bank came to lead the project, create tasks and to help evaluate the students based on their knowledge of real life assessment centres. The whole workshop was an amazing experience both for the project team and the students who came away with valuable insights about HR as well as about themselves.
SMK SHARPEN project team on 10th May 2018 had a conference and round table
event on human resource management in SMEs. SMK partner SMEs, students and
lecturers have discussed human resource management issues in Klaipeda's
region SMEs, sudents introduced their case studies findings and their
recommendations for Klaipeda's region SMEs human resource management
improvement. The event was conducted in Lithuanian language for partners
and students better understanding.
Videos related to SHARPEN intensive study week (ISP) 2018
Here are a few short compilation of videos to illustrate some of the activities took place in Kajaani during ISP week (23-27 April).
A short clip of:
SHARPEN Multiplier event
KAMK Sharpen teams have started their attachment with companies in week 18. So far the teams have spent two sessions with the HR managers and their designated personnels to provide more insights to their current practices, to finalize the scope of the research and to agree on the action plans. Starting next week, the teams will go into full actions with data collection, analysis and finalizing their reports before presenting the outcome in the middle of June. Exciting journey ahead! We hope we can bring good outputs to our commisioning SMEs.
Challenges of Human Resource Management in selected SMEs in the Liberec region
Wednesday May 9 was a day when Czech SHARPEN student team presented the SHARPEN project to their peers from the Technical University of Liberec. At the beginning of the workshop, Ms. Katerina Marsikova presented the project in general and invited the student team to the floor. The students first introduced themselves and then moved to presenting their projects and how they are helping the companies involved in the project. The audience was thrilled to learn what the team has done in the past several months.
The ISP is over!
The SHARPEN Intensive Study Program (ISP) 2018 in KAMK, Finland has ended successfully. The objectives to bring students together to learn and work in multi-cultural teams, different national environment, to learn about HRM and SMEs etc. are fulfilled. In addition, the visiting students and staff have also a rare opportunity to participate in a seminar organized for local SMEs in KAMK which was arranged during the ISP week. In the event, few courageous students have also interacted and met some local SMEs and representatives from key organizations to discuss about HRM. In addition to intensive study programs, the visitors have also some leisure activities to help them break-ice, settle to the new environment, make new friends and network with other students.
Thanks to the KAMK organizing teams who have put in a huge amount of efforts to make sure this event went as smoothly as it could be.
Thanks for everyone's cooperation and understanding, together, we made this a historic moment for SHARPEN, also for all who have participated actively!
KAMK will organize its first seminar and workshop event to disseminate the activities from year one of the SHARPEN project on the 25th of April 2018 along with the results of the survey. The event will be participated by local SMEs and development institutions, visiting partner teachers and students, KAMK teachers and students. The KAMK organizing teams have been very busy with the ISP management, but also preparing this major event!
After a long presentation session with the Finnish peers, the KAMK sharpen team continued with an extended session to finalize their presentation on 23.4.
They aim to introduce the collaborating companies briefly to prepare the visitors for the visits on 24.4. Keep up the good progress and motivation, we still have a long way to go!
The SHARPEN teams together with their collaborating HRM students from Finnish degree program jointly presented their outputs along with some preliminary analyses of the survey results collected from Finnish SMEs. There was a total of 74 responses. Many of the responses came from various service industries. The second and third common sources are ICT and industrial companies. The general findings include:
- A significant number of respondents have only 1 to 9 employees, many of these are family run business. The common form is a limited company (Oy)
- Most SMEs have no dedicated HR manager, specialist nor department to handle people-related issues. This could be due to the size of the respondents as stated above.
- Quite many who responded said they have no formal performance management system
- Also, many answered they have no HR information system and those who have they are mainly used for payroll purpose or just recording employee data.
- Many of the respondents have limited or no competencies about HRM.
- Many respondents said they agree to give equal opportunities to employees, employee happiness and well-being are valued highly by the responding companies.
- Training and development have a bit of split vote. Some think it is kind of important while about equal numbers think it is quite unimportant.
Anyway, a more detailed analysis will be presented during the business seminar on 25.4. So, this is just a little preview of the key highlights presented by the teams.
With this presentation, Phase 1 of the SHARPEN learning module in KAMK is now officially completed! Thanks for the active participation, good presentation and valuable contributions to this learning module!
Next... Intensive Study Program in KAMK! See you there!
Lithuanian SHARPEN team from SMK yesterday had their final meeting before the ISP. Students made the last changes on their presentation and discussed all details about the trip with participating lecturers. Lithuanian team is very excited about future experience and can't wait to meet all of the participants in Finland.
Czech Team Meeting
Czech SHARPEN team has met on Friday April 13 to discuss the theoretical topics each student is focusing on in their work. We have also heard one of our experts, Ms. Machackova, who gave a short introductory lecture into GDPR.
On Thursday 29th March, Czech SHARPEN team continued with another one of their regular meetings. First, the team watched the introductory video from their German counterparts and then two students presented the theory that they will be focusing on in their work. At the end of the session, the team discussed administrative issues, mainly issues connected with their trip to Kajaani, Finland. Everyone in the team is very excited for the upcoming visit!
KAMK SHARPEN team had two sessions with visiting lecturer, Prof. Dr. Horst from Zwickau UAS. The team covered two topics from the learning modules - employee ownership, also performance management. Prof. Dr. Horst provided excellent insights about employee participation in SMEs while he also introduced an interesting tool to support the performance management topic. The sessions were fruitful and interesting to support the development of the SHARPEN team.
University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany
Last Monday our Sharpen team visited the SME and we started our cooperation. We had an interview with the HR manager about HRM
in this company and about our project topic. It was a very productive meeting and we're looking forward to work with the company.
Dr Julie Davies, Dr Alex Kevill and Dr Dinuka Herath presenting on 22 March at Leeds University Business School Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies on the SHARPEN project about managing volunteers in SMEs and the role of the HR manager.
WHZ Zwickau/Germany:Our SHARPEN intro video is online in moodle Kajaani since today: edu.kamit.fi
Screen shot from the video.
To make our Erasmus project more public, we have announced on the WHZ website the travel of our SHARPEN team to KAMK in Kajaani to attend the ISP week. Please have a look at the website: https://www.fh-zwickau.de/
Every Monday and Wednesday are Sharpen-days at University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany. 21.03.2018
On this Monday the German Sharpen team received their new roll up. We will use it for all of our reginal dissemination events, especially for our planned Multiplier Event on May 30, 2018. We are all very happy about the roll up. During our HR course on Monday discussed how to create and evaluate a questionnaire. After that we finished chapter 2 of the learning module and spoke about the german team project tasks for the ISP.
Next Monday we will visit the SME and will meet the Head of Human Resource Management of our SME. On Mondays we learn and perform interactive teamwork for 6 hours and on Wednesdays for 4 hours every week until the ISP in Kajaani in April.
Our introduction video is almost finished. We are still working on the final version and will publish it next week on the moodle website.
Our first student campus reporter at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany is a member of the German SHARPEN team. 21.03.2018 WHZ
Our student Lena Hantzsche is our first campus student reporter and a member of our SHARPEN team. With the programm "Lena vor Ort" she interviews students, professors or important people on events at our university. During her interviews she also asks about the interest in our Human Resource Management learning module in the Erasmus SHARPEN project. In this way we make a major contribution to the dissemination of our project results. If you are interested in, join the page "Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau" - University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany on Facebook.
3rd Meeting of Czech team
Extended Czech Sharpen team (including 8 students) met on Friday, 16th March. We spent more than 2 hours discussing topics of specifics of HRM in SMEs, namely recruitment and risk of employee turnover, specifically from the Czech SMEs´ perspective and in connection with current situation in the Czech labour market (the lowest unemployment rate in the EU and lack of suitable candidates). Big thanks to everyone who was participating today. Friendly and optimistic atmosphere was supported by an introduction video created by 5 students who are going to Finland this April. The students introduced themselves as well as our university and Liberec as an attractive town in the video. Looking forward to it - it is coming soon to Sharpen Moodle!
Monday, March 12, 2018: University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany.
Today our sharpen-team worked on a case study about three different future worlds of work. We discussed possible solutions.
Thursday, March 8, 2018: University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany
SHARPEN students of WHZ/Germany during the creation of the introduction video. When it is finished, we want to place it on the moodle website.
Czech SHARPEN team has met on two occassions so far, first meeting took place on 23rd February 2018 and was mainly focused on administrative issues, finding companies and lecture from proffessionals about how to conduct a research and how to convince a company about the benefits of taking part in the project SHARPEN. Second meeting, on 2nd March was mainly about the progress with contacting the companies, discussing the theory and other issues relevant to the project.
SHARPEN team Liberec is ready to go!
Czech SHARPEN team has met on two occassions so far, first meeting took place on 23rd February 2018 and was mainly focused on administrative issues, finding companies and lecture from proffessionals about how to conduct a research and how to convince a company about the benefits of taking part in the project SHARPEN. Second meeting, on 2nd March was mainly about the progress with contacting the companies, discussing the theory and other issues relevant to the project.
University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany and Kajaani University of Applied Sciences/Finland
The project manager of WHZ/Germany Eric Forkel attended the International Week at the University of Kajaani/Finland from 21 to 23 February 2018. Together with our project partner in the project SHARPEN, Mrs. Ruey Komulainen, and students from Kajaani the ISP was continued to be prepared.
Monday, March 5, 2018: Start of the SHARPEN learning module at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany.
We have worked together on the following topics:
1. Aims and Outputs of our Erasmus HRM project SHARPEN
2. Content and program of the HRM learning module in summer semester 2018
3. Program and first preparations for the Intensiv Study Program week in Kajaani/Finland
4. Start of cooperation between students and regional SMEs
5. Our regional multiplier event on 30 May 2018 together with regional SMEs
All students are very engaged and look forward to working internationally with students from 5 universities. They are especially looking forward to attending the ISP Week in Kajaani in April 2018.
Czech SHARPEN project team is happy to inform you that our "Round Table" on 15th February 2018 which focused on human resource management in SMEs was a great success. Participants from over 20 companies have discussed current issues and shared knowledge, ideas and experience.
A short overview of the entire event is available in Czech here.
Lecture in Huddersfield
Chris Newberry, HR Manager, Kirkwood Hospice, and Ana Chiru SHARPEN 2017 student now working at Kirkwood Hospice, present a seminar on HR strategy and regional SMEs at Huddersfield Business School. Kirkwood Hospice holds recruitment open days on employability. Facilitator: Dr Julie Davies
Today, we presented SHARPEN project to many partner institutions from across Europe. The scope includes sharing of experiences and best practices, disseminating results from our survey and finally explore collaboration opportunities. The participants were showing a keen interest in the project idea, and also the interim survey findings.Overall, it was a good session where we also learned about situations in other areas and found some common grounds for further discussions.
HR director of SMEs visited KAMK on 7 Feb 2018
The HR Director from one of KAMK's collaborating partner SMEs visited the class today and shared her experiences in managing a rapidly expanding company, which started with one founder 5 years ago, and now employing 70 people with 13 nationalities, with offices in 4 countries and still expanding exponentially. It was an inspiring journey but also an interesting and challenging one as a result of positive developments of the company.
Employer Branding - mini questionnaire results in KAMK
During the third SHARPEN session in KAMK regarding recruitment, retention and employer brand, a small classroom survey was administered with 37 responses. The group consisted 67% females, 33% males, 57% aged 18~23, 43% aged 24~30 years old. The summary of findings as follows:
1. 43% are interested to work with companies with 11~50 employees while 45% said they have no preference to company size.
2. Employer brand affects their choice to apply for jobs; they prefer to apply to a company they have heard before
3. Employer brand is associated with higher pay, more prestige, more ethical and offers equal opportunity, with more benefits and amenities than those without. Interestingly, employer brand is less associated with a good workplace, the trustworthiness of the firm and job security.
4. The top five factors to choose their job are employer brand, type of business and industry, benefits and amenities, flexible work hours and pay is not one of the highest factors in consideration.
5. When asked what factors they valued to stay in a company, the top factor was pay/salary alongside with equitable treatment, good relations with peers and management, good work atmosphere, having a job with sufficient challenges and opportunities to learn and recognized for their contributions.
These should be good news for SMEs. Building a known employer brand can help them attract better applicants. Despite pay may not be competitive when comparing to larger firms, all other factors to attract and retain talents are totally feasible to be implemented in SMEs with a small amount of investments. The results are consistent with the findings from a whitepaper published based on research with young adults in Nordic countries 2016.
This will be the research topic for one of our partner SME this Spring, thus these preliminary results are opening up possibilities to help the firm and other SMEs to improve their employer brands in the future
Intensive Study Week Program 2018
As a Finnish university of applied sciences, KAMK highly values a balanced and practical learning environment for our students. Practising what they learn from books is one of the most important learning objectives. These values are also seen in our plans for the Intensive Study Program (ISP). Obviously, we will push the participants to work hard to achieve the desired learning outcomes; simultaneously we have also planned a spectrum of non-academic activities aiming to encourage participants to play as hard during the week with opportunity to know your multi-national peers, the SHARPEN management team and other rapidly growing disciplines such as eSports, digital gaming etc.
The 'gathering' of talents is not limited to learning HR theories or debating scientific research, but the true spirit of this phase of the SHARPEN project is to give participants a venue to meet and network across borders, to practise key competencies in managing and working with people from diverse backgrounds, work style, age, expertise levels, etc. We also encourage all participants to actively share your knowledge, cultures, interests, hobbies and any interesting stuff with peers and staff during the ISP week. Let's make this a wonderful, memorable and enjoyable experiences for each other, together!
We hope this video made by KAMK students will give you a preview of the learning spirits and life as a student in KAMK. We hope you will feel these too during the ISP! Enjoy!
Credits to Wangyuan, Emmi, Razib, Adlan and one exchange student. Video made in mid April, 2016.
Kulatý stůl SHARPEN
Dne 15.2. se na budově G bude konat kulatý stůl na téma "Řízení lidských zdrojů v malých a středních podnicích" pod záštitou projektu SHARPEN. Odborníci a zástupci podnikatelské praxe budou debatovat o tom, jakým výzvám v oblasti řízení lidských zdrojů čelí MSP.
Zveme všechny zájemce, aby se přišli podívat, poslechnout si ostatní účastníky nebo i sami přispět svými zkušenostmi.
The University of Huddersfield have introduced their project team for the year 2018!
UK 2018 SHARPEN ISP team. From left: Dr Viviana Meschitti, David Foster, Luke Oldridge, Dr Julie Davies, Kerry Lunn, Liz Rivers, Hoa Dinh, Dorra Jebali
Five students participating in the 2018 Intensive Study Programme (ISP) from the UK include three first year Master's and two first term doctoral level students: three from the UK, one from Vietnam and one from Tunisia. There are three females and two males. We appreciate that this is a different composition from the other student teams who are undergraduates. We have impressed upon our students strongly that although for the three English students English is their first language and all five are a few years older than the other students, a vital learning outcome from the ISP is that all students and faculty members benefit from cross-cultural collaborations.
Please meet the KAMK SHARPEN team 2018! There are two missing members, but almost the full team! The team is very unique this year consisting 3 games students, 5 business students of varied levels, two teachers from HRM background, a teacher from adult learning and a teacher from eSports and games. This is the power of diversity and cross-disciplinary cooperation.
Left to right: Nikke, Jalmari, Alexandra, Janus, Aile, Tuula, Ruey, Marc and Adeel (absent: Adnan and Valtteri).
The exciting start of a new SHARPEN cycle! Joining us is the HR Manager from our long-standing partner SME, 6 of the 8 strong SHARPEN members, and 30 Finnish degree program students from HRM course who will collaborate with us in Phase 1 of SHARPEN. Also, this year we have a couple more facilitators, Ms. Tuula Rajander, Ms. Päivi Auno, and Mr. Janus who bring along a wealth of experience in people management, and Finnish SMEs including the bustling, exploding digital gaming industry. We truly hope this will be an awesome development journey together for all, including me!
Meet KAMK SHARPEN participants from the games development team!
A productive and fruitful year is now behind us, and the new cycle of SHARPEN course is about to begin. This year, we have another interesting combination of participants. After two rounds of recruitment, we recruited 8 motivated students from 3 levels of bachelor programs across two different faculties - business and games development. In this photo, is my first briefing session to the producers from the game development school - Valtteri, Jameri, and Nikke. Many of you may wonder, why games students are interested in HRM? Indeed, this topic is extremely relevant to this group of students because they are responsible to manage project teams in the future such as programmers, designers, artists, marketers etc. Thus, managing people is key to success. In addition, such companies are growing rapidly today, thanks to the increasing popularity of digital games and eSports! One of KAMK SME partner this year is one of the fastest growing SME in Finland, also the world. They grew from 20 people less than two years ago to 70 people today of 14 nationalities! Scaling the people resources in such light speed in a small region and town 550 km from the capiltal city of Finland, and 10 000 km from other parts of the world amplified the challenges. So, we hope SHARPEN project can add value to such a company, and also other small, fast-growing SMEs who have similar problems in their rapid growth phase!
Huddersfield Business School research seminar on 7 February 2018, 12:15-1:15pm
Dr Rob Wapshott, Sheffield University Management School, UK
How do regulations affect SMEs? A systematic review of the qualitative research evidence
The relationship of regulations to SMEs is a perennial feature of discussions on small business and enterprise. The emphasis of regulations' negative effects on SMEs, typically focused on by business lobby groups and politicians, masks a more complex and contested discussion of how regulations affect SMEs.
Drawing on work developed with colleagues Oliver Mallett and Tim Vorley, this seminar will discuss findings from a systematic literature review and detail a thematic synthesis of qualitative research on regulations and SMEs. The aim of the discussion will be to develop a processual, context-sensitive approach to understanding the effects of regulations on SMEs that highlights the ways in which regulations affect SMEs. I will argue that a processual, context-sensitive approach generates insights into the effects of regulations capable of advancing debates and further studies of how regulations affect SMEs.
Rob's research interests centre on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs, particularly employment relationships and practices and how small businesses encounter management challenges as they grow. The owners of these businesses often self-identify as entrepreneurs, but running a larger organisation on a day-to-day basis may require a different mind-set and practical approach. Rob is a member of the Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED) at Sheffield University. He is series editor (with Janine Swail, University of Auckland) for the Routledge Master's in Entrepreneurship series of textbooks. He is an editorial board member for the International Small Business Journal and for Human Relations and an Associate Editor for Personnel Review.
Kulatý stůl SHARPEN
Dne 15.2. se na budově G bude konat kulatý stůl na téma "Řízení lidských zdrojů v malých a středních podnicích" pod záštitou projektu SHARPEN. Odborníci a zástupci podnikatelské praxe budou debatovat o tom, jakým výzvám v oblasti řízení lidských zdrojů čelí MSP.
Zveme všechny zájemce, aby se přišli podívat, poslechnout si ostatní účastníky nebo i sami přispět svými zkušenostmi.
The 2nd SHARPEN Information Event for students at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany, who are interested in joining the 2018 HRM Learning Module.
SHARPEN team Czech Republic is looking for candidates for the 2018 HRM in SMEs learning module at the University of Liberec.
Five students will be chosen based on a face to face interview. Once chosen, they will start learning specifics of HRM in SMEs in English language. Additionaly, they will be assigned to a firm, where they will perform a shadowing of an HR specialist. Once done, they will create a case study assignment. Moreover, participants will travel to Kajaani, Finland for an Intensive Study Programme in April 2018.
Meeting with HR specialist
Huddersfield team met Helen today. Helen has worked in a Hong Kong conglomerate and SMEs and her advice is for the HR practitioner to get on the board to make a mark and get buy in. She began her career as a secretary.
Presentation of SHARPEN at British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2017
At this year`s conference of the British Academy of Management (BAM) from 05 September to 07 September 2017 in Warwick (GB), Prof. Dr. Angela Walter from the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau/Germany presented the topic "Perspectives on Human Resource Management in Companies (SMEs) in Saxony/Germany". During the subsequent round table discussion, she also presented our joint Erasmus project SHARPEN and discussed it with the participants. The presentation was part of the Professional Development Workshop "German Perspectives of Mangement Theory and Practice" on 05 September.
When HRM students meet HR manager from KAMK's partner SME.
Thanks to SHARPEN project, this rare opportunity becomes available for students to meet a real-life practitioner to better understand the roles and functions of an HR specialist and also the challenges in this position. In addition, common people management issues are discussed especially in the context of an SME. During the session, the SHARPEN project was also introduced to the audiences. It was an insightful session to give students a preview into the work life of an in-house HR manager while reiterating the importance of the people management competencies in their professional career in the future.
SHARPEN project gets presented in Liberec.
The SHARPEN project was presented on the biennial conference the Liberec Economic Forum that has taken place from 11th to 13th September 2017 in Liberec under the patronage of Dean of the Faculty of Economics prof. Ing. Miroslav Žižka, Ph.D. The SHARPEN project team is very happy that it has been given the opportunity to present the project, its results and goals to the myriad of guests that have arrived to this conference.
Read what Petra thinks about participating in the Sharpen project:
"I participated in the SHARPEN project because I am interested in HR area and I wanted to learn new things in practice. Thanks to excellent leadership, cooperating company and awesome team, it was a pleasure and a great experience for me. Intensive study program in Germany was great not only because I met new people from other countries, but also I could get to know foreign companies and their HR activities. Very often, a problem seems to be huge, but the solution or inspiration can be found just a bit beyond the boundaries. Better self-confidence during the presentation and English practice is just another bonus of this program."
Final Presentations at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau
On Monday, 19th June, the students from the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau presented their student project assignment including final results and findings. During the last months, two student groups worked with one regional SME in each case to analyse and finally improve its HRM. Furthermore, the students acquired applied and scientific knowledge about HRM in SMEs in the learning module. Each group presented the results very well. Their final findings and recommendations to the SMEs were well structured, deeply analysed and made on a good scientific research basis.
Presentation of "SHARPEN" at the International Day in celebration 25th anniversary of University of Applied Sciences Zwickau
The University of Applied Sciences Zwickau was celebrating its 25th anniversary. During last week the university had a lot of special events, exhibitions and sightseeing as well as social and party time.
On last Wednesday the 14th June, the International Day focused all international partners, projects and cooperation. In short, so called "Pecha-Kucha" presentations international activities were presented to international guest from 14 countries. Also, the project "SHARPEN" was presented by the project manager Eric Forkel. In his slide show, he introduced the "SHARPEN" project and gave a lot of information and impressions about the "Intensive Study Week" (ISP-Week) last April at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau. In conclusion, Prof. Angela Walter as the initiator and research and teaching specialist gave a brief insight to the process of application for this Erasmus project. The audience followed the presentation of the project and the pictures of the ISP-Week with a great interest and respected the performance for the ISP-Week.
Czech students are awarded with certificates
yesterday, 19.06.2017, the team of Czech SHARPEN project students was awarded with certificates marking the end of the Learning Module. The dean of the Faculty of Economics from Technical University of Liberec congratulated the team on their success and praised them for their contributions to the project before handing over the certificates. The SHARPEN project team is delighted that all the students were successful and would like to thank them for all the hard work they have done.
Time flies, the SHARPEN project has gone through almost one full cycle now. Here is an e-Newsletter capturing the key events and milestones achieved to-date and the actions coming in Autumn 2017.
eNewsletter - Click here
After 3.5 months of hard work, the team's efforts finally bear fruits. Two teams presented their findings and recommendations to the senior management of the SME partner. The contents were well received and the teams' outputs were much appreciated. Although the total time spent with the company was very limited, through good cooperation and support from key members of all levels, the teams could highlight key pressure areas and provide some practical, concrete and creative solutions to address the issues identified. Overall, the teams are very proud of their deliverables and we believe the SME partner found the information very valuable to warrant more cooperation opportunities to the future, with SHARPEN and other possibilities like practical training and theses. Good job, teams!
Lecturer Henrika Rugine participated in Scientific-Practical conference "Human and public welfare in the context of modern developments" (in Vilnius, Lithuania). In the conference participated specialists and scientists from different fields. Henrika introduced project Sharpen and made presentation about HRM for SME's problems in regions in her presentation.
On Wednesday 17 May 2017 the final presentation regarding the first year of the SHARPEN project took place. The reason for this project, the meaning of it and the aim were all introduced.
After this a description Intensive Study Programme in Zwickau, which was one of the main parts of the SHARPEN project so far. It was the first time the members of all five countries got together in one place with the aim of cooperating. This programme not only helped the students gain professional knowledge, but also knowledge regarding international communication.
After this five students of the SHARPEN team stepped up. Each student was tasked with cooperating with one company that operates in the Liberec region, and finding out its HRM situation. After this they each created an individual presentation containing details about the SMEs in question. Thanks to surveys and the cooperation between the students and the companies, the information contained in the presentations gave us an accurate picture of the situation of SMEs in the Liberec region and how they solve their HR problems. At the end of each presentation the students created a proposal on how to solve the HR problems the company is facing, with the help of the knowledge they gained during the SHARPEN project.
The workshop was very interesting and not only did it introduce the entire SHARPEN project, but also showed us real problems that SMEs must face in HRM.
A big thank you goes to all the people who took part in the SHARPEN project.
On 16 May, the teams spent several hours at the partner SME's premises to conduct interviews and to administer the electronic survey. The session took several hours and it went fairly smoothly. The teams spoke to few managers and staff from different units while the electronic questionnaire was also circulated to all employees to obtain more structured information. So far, the teams have received 42% responses, a bit lower than the target, but a good number to start. Now the teams proceed with analysis and hopefully, the literature plus direct input from the employees will help to develop some good recommendations.... The judgment day is 6th of June where the teams will present their results to the CEO and the management team.
Students and lecturers gathered together to the conference hall to meet special guests. SMK social partners from different institutions were invited to introduce to the students of the Klaipeda region some economic expansion plans, that exist in foreseen labor situation, and main problems of HRM in SME's. This even was initiated by the SHARPEN participants in SMK. The SHARPEN project was presented, the activities that students already took part in during the project and the future results of this project.
Later the SHARPEN team (students that participated in the ISP week) presented their research to their colleagues of the Klaipeda region about the labor force situation and their impressions from the ISP in Germany, Zwickau.
On Tuesday, 16 May 2017 the organisation CzechInvest organised a meeting of regional HR managers together with the TUL on the main campus. The leading topic of this "HR Point workshop" was "Recruitment as a marketing tool". As a part of this workshop the project manager Katerina Marsikova presented an introduciton of the SHARPEN project, its objectives, perspectives and offered these participants from regional companies a possiblity of cooperation in the project in next two years.
After the Easter break, work on the HRM project assignment was continued with a workshop on 26 April 2017 at the University in Zwickau. The students have integrated the results of the ISP week into their projects and prepared further discussions with the regional SMEs.
On Wednesday afternoon, right after our Assessment Centre session we discussed with the SHARPEN students their progress.
By then, the students visited the company for a second time and put forward their recommendations to the companies' HR specialists. Furthermore, we have focused on their preparetions for the big presentations that will take place on 17th May in Liberec.
During this presentation, our SHARPEN students will present the SHARPEN project, findings from their selected SMEs and results of project assignment. Moreover students will introduce their overall experience from their time as members of the project SHARPEN team at TUL to their fellow students of the Technical University of Liberec.
On Wednesday 10th May 2017 the students of the SHARPEN project within the Economic faculty, Technical University of Liberec had the opportunity to try out an assessment centre within the SHARPEN project.
The goal of the assessment centre was to experience and practice how the important tool of the recruitment process works. Students tried how capable are of fulfilling leading roles in a team, company or simply a group of people. Two HR specialists from the ČSOB bank came to lead the project, create tasks and to help evaluate the students based on their knowledge of real life assessment centres. On the whole workshop in a friendly atmoshpere this was a great experience for the students. They all enjoyed it tremendously and were glad to have the opportunity to try out this unique experience. A big thank you goes from all participants (SHARPEN team members and studets) to the ČSOB bank for making this workshop possible.
The long awaited moment... finally, the project teams met the key people in our partner SME; thus far, the discussions had been mainly with the HR Manager. The meetings were short and sweet today. The main purpose was to have a preliminary introduction before we meet them again next week to conduct interviews or small group discussions with their subordinates.
The research objective of the teams is to develop an effective, simple to implement process and program that will empower managers to utilize reward management and incentive program with confidence to motivate their employees to explore their potentials, increase work engagement and support the business objectives with full commitment. At the end of Phase 3, the KAMK SHARPEN team should highlight priority areas for improvements, develop a framework based on past research and literature which should be translated to practical solutions or tools tailored to this specific SME (process and contents of reward management and incentive program), identify critical success factors or conditions for implementation and finally proposing an implementation roadmap. The team will present their results to the partner on 6 June. Unfortunately, due to the confidentiality agreements, we are unable to include other SHARPEN participants in the presentation. However, the solutions and tools will be generalized and recorded in the form of a short video which is available for general view later.
Next step, the teams are preparing the interview/discussion questions. We hope the actions will be fruitful and productive with good preparations!
Today, the first attachment session at the partner's premises. It was an informative and productive meeting, thanks to the HR Manager who has spent the entire morning with us! After the meeting, the members gathered to recap the discussions & observations, develop the research structure and approach, brainstormed some ideas and get ready for our next session on 8.5! This is an excellent opportunity for the team to put their HR theories to practice!
The Czech Sharpen team met for the first time after returning from the ISP. We discussed experiences of our students and received great feedback. The main part of the meeting however was to talk about the future of the project and the current duties and responsibilities of the students. The students mainly focused on preparing for a next visit to their respective companies and received instructions about the presentation of their results that will take place on the 17th of May.
The SHARPEN academic and administrative team met for the transnational meeting, 8th April in Zwickau. After the first Intensive study programme week and 6 months of concentrated cooperation on the project there were many topics to discuss. The meeting on Saturday, led by the project leader from the Technical university of Liberec, included a full of day of negotiations and discussions mainly about the further progress in outputs and financial and administrative issues. We focused on key lessons learned and the first ISP feedback, an evaluation of results in the Phase 1 of the E-learning module, budget, project administration and financing, Output 1 -module 1 - 3 phases, SMEs - shadowing, case studies, SHARPEN Moodle, output 2 (e-Handbook), output 3 (questionnaire for SMEs) and project publicity (website, Facebook or twitter). The meeting was a crucial part for further steps in the project for following month and brought fruitful feedback from ISP in Zwickau for the next two ISPs planned in 2018 and 2019.
The delightful SHARPEN teams in KAMK met on 24 April to finalize the attachment schedule and complete the final preparation for their attachment to the partner SME which will commence next week. The team will have four attachment sessions with the company in May which include a focus group discussion with the management team and selected staff members. The project will conclude with a report together with a final presentation to the management team on 6 June 2017. So, lots of exciting stuff in progress and the team is awaiting eagerly to put their theories to practice.
KAMK SHARPEN travelers met the first time to update non-travelling members their experiences (plus lots of chocolates from Germany) and key learnings from the Intensive Study Program (ISP) in Zwickau. Also, we help the latter group to find key resources from the ISP session such as the few videos which are important prerequisites for developing case studies for the e-Handbook etc. In addition, the team also agreed on the action plans for Phase 3 of the project and next steps forward.
Last but not least, the team would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Easter. In addition, we would also like to wish two of the team members, Quang (10.4) and Jasper (13.4) Happy Birthday!
Friday was the last day of our Intensive Study Programme. The students of all five countries had the whole day to apply the knowledge and experience obtained by working on the elaboration of their own topics in selected SMEs. Firstly, the students evaluated the experience of HR processes in the SMEs visited in Saxony. They later used this knowledge to start thinking about the next step in their own projects - the developing of practical HR tools for Czech, Finnish, UK, German and Lithuanian SMEs. The students went back home with a deeper knowledge, unforgettable experiences and new friendships. A big thank you goes to all the SMEs and organisers of the ISP in Germany.
On Tuesday the SHARPEN teams were welcomed in 2 SMEs in the Saxony region. In the morning we visited a traditional German potato producer - Friwaika. This was followed by a visit to a new plant of the brewery Sternquell. We visited the local reservoir as wellas the historical centre of Plauen. We a enjoyed a delicious meal in a Sternquell brewery cellar. It was a marvellous experience both for the practical knowledge of SME´s environment as well as for cross-cultural learning.
On Wednesday the SHARPEN teams had an inspiring morning organised by the Chamber of Commerce. We all learned about the economic situation in Saxony and mainly in the Zwickau region. Following this, the international teams gave a description of their own regions and worked on real challenges. In the afternoon we were introduced to the company 3D Micromac . Here the German team 1 presented their HR processes with the support of their HR manager. This very intensive day was rounded off with a Food Bazaar, which was organised by the WHZ international office in the Tivoli Club.
Tuesday was a "case study" day for all the international SHARPEN teams. Based on some theoretical knowledge and practical advice given on Monday afternoon, the students started working on a case study of a consultancy company, with the aim of improving the HR environment in a hypothetical company. In the afternoon the teams presented their results of the 3 hour task to the SHARPEN audience.
On Monday 3rd April 2017 the intensive study programme in Zwickau started. The representatives of the University of Applied Science in Zwickau gave their opening speeches. Afterwards they joined in an ice-breaking session, which was led by Ruey Komulainen from Finland. This was the start of the friendly cooperation between all participants in the project. There followed the first phase of teamwork between all 5 countries. Four national teams each gave a presentation. In the afternoon the students learned about the theory and practice of the case studies which were presented to them in the form lectures by the HUBS project team.
After five intensive weeks, the KAMK teams presented their study topics to their Finnish degree program colleagues. This session is an excellent example of how motivated teams will deliver good performance and excellent output. Also, the team contained a diverse portfolio of students from cross-disciplinary programs where they utilized each member's strengths and knowledge to put up good, informative presentations. Although teamwork, especially cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary combinations are more challenging to work than homogeneous ones, but, when the members overcame obstacles of differences, focused on common goals, and understand each other's strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, experiences, knowledge, communication styles etc., their joint output is much more effective with depth and multi-perspectives.
Similar outcomes are also observed in the organizational context especially in SMEs and thus the importance of selecting the right people with the right values, keep them motivated, engaged, empowered with good support, guidance and positive environment. Indeed, during the session, the participants discussed the key factor that motivates them. It is not surprising that, working environment came out first, followed by the nature of the job, pay and remuneration, also opportunity to develop and learn.
The team also discussed incentive plans such as employee ownership, its strengths to motivate employees and its applicability in the Finnish work environment. Overall, it was a very good session where minds and ideas met.
NOTE: All presentation and discussion videos are in Moodle - Kainuu specific materials.
This afternoon, the KAMK team had the final meeting before presentations to the Finnish degree students on 31.3 about the different HRM topics from the Armstrong materials and to finalize their presentation for the long awaited, exciting ISP trip to Germany
In this session, all members pulled their efforts together to prepare for the 'Introducing Kainuu, SME and partner' presentation during ISP Zwickau. KAMK SHARPEN team consists of eight members. Although only five will travel, those who are not traveling were also helping in every way they could to support their representative team so that they can deliver an informative and successful introductory session to other participants from partner universities.
In addition to consolidating ideas and output, the teams also went through study materials, finalizing slides and exchange updates about trip arrangements. We are ready to rock!
On Tuesday March 24th , teachers and managers of the Czech SHARPEN team had a meeting with the Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Jablonec nad Nisou, an important industrial and cultural town on the Liberec region. We discussed various topics related to the SHARPEN project and the economic and employment situation of the Jablonec region. The focus was on employment readiness of young people in small and medium-sized companies, a comparison of company personnel management processes and quality, as well as cooperation between companies, primary, secondary schools and higher education. Some of the issues discussed were language competences of students and young people that do not often correspond with the needs of potential employers, insufficient standards and work conditions for employees provided by some production companies and the mismatch of skills of graduates from secondary schools and universities and the needs of the regional labour market in general. Also a few great ideas for new initiatives and cooperation arose from the meeting, e.g. a plan for a roundtable discussion where several HR managers from SMEs will meet with SHARPEN teachers and students and will talk and specify topics for further development and improvement. The Jablonec nad Nisou Chamber of Commerce plans to actively participate in the SHARPEN project, both on the communication and publicity side as well as on direct interaction with students, companies and teachers. We would like to thank Mr. Mužíček, the Director of the CoC Jablonec nad Nisou for the meeting and his proactive and welcoming approach to the project.
H.E. Dato Blanche Olbery was pleasantly surprised by her short visit to Kainuu on 20-21.3.2017. Few of the SHARPEN participants and other students from the Asian Business studies took part in the company meetings. Indeed, her excellency was pleasantly surprised after her experiences in this visit; she thinks Kainuu is a hidden gem in the middle of Finland and she believes there are possibilities for cooperative explorations with Malaysia. The areas include ICT, tourism, bio-energy, games development etc.
These are very interesting propositions. However, after the discussions, the companies reflected on the opportunities; it became clear that while many of these ideas are tapping into Kainuu's existing resources and expertise, there are also significant gaps to take advantage of the opportunities due to service gaps of the people competencies. Many of the companies are small, family-run businesses where they are very passionate and excel in what they do best but they have no knowledge about the new market nor the resources to employ and train new employees to serve the segments.
Also, due to the seasonal nature of the industry such as tourism, at the moment, the companies relied heavily on part-timers, practical trainees and seasonal workers. Training is a repetitive effort and motivation, skills gap that affect service quality are all burning issues to address. However, the question is 'chicken or egg first'? Do they prepare the workforce or recruit the people first, or do they get the customers first then develop the competencies... it is a debatable question. We hope this project will provide some simple tools for them to plan their workforce and HR needs more effectively in the future.
Today, we have another SHARPEN session in KAMK. However, unlike earlier weeks the participants are in the driver seat. They are 'empowered' to run the discussions. The key discussion topics are the challenges of SMEs in Kainuu region, the causes etc. and compare these to the SMEs literature from Finland and other parts of the world. This background will help us develop a deeper understanding of the HR issues surrounding our partner SME's environment and the industry it is operating which are critical fundamentals to preparing for next phases of this project.
The first phase of the learning module successfully launched at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau on 22 February 2017. In the first session, students discussed the importance and objectives of our HRM project for the partner universities, for regional SMEs and for the region of West Saxony. The content of this first phase of the HR module will provide the theoretical basis for the second and third phase when students will work on practical solutions for HR problems of regional SMEs in cooperation with companies and other regional institutions. Our students look forward to combining theory and practice in this module and to be able to work cross-culturally with students from four other European regions. In the upcoming Intensive Study Programme week in April 2017 at our University in Zwickau, the students from all five partner countries will exchange their HR knowledge face-to-face and have joint workshops in companies in West Saxony/Germany.
All international students and lecturers of the SHARPEN learning module will attend our University in Zwickau to participate in the Intensive Study Programme week from 3rd to the 7th of April 2017. Therefore, on 8th of March another meeting with all the regional project partners, including the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Institute for Labour market research took place. During the meeting, the participants continued to discuss preparations of the workshops, company visits and other activities which are planned during the ISP week in Zwickau. The entire team of the SHARPEN project at the University of Zwickau is excited to welcome you to Germany and to have productive cross-cultural workshops at the university and in regional Companies.
EF TUL SHARPEN team comprised of 6 students (Hanka, Marie, Adéla, Petra, Katka a Patrik) met for the second time with our academic team specialists to develop topics of our HRM module based on Armstrong´s selected chapters. The 5 students, that will go to the ISP in Zwickau, will also harmonize details to be prepared for shadowing in the 5 selected SMEs (Lasvit, EWM, Brewery Hrubý Rohozec, Praktik a Lucid) at the end of this week. Their preparation phase included also translation of the questionnaire prepared in SurveyMonkey to help mapping HRM processes in all of these SMEs. All students are looking forward to gaining new experience and valuable information for ISP in Zwickau.
Although we are a couple of members short, we still have a very fruitful and productive discussion. While the team members continue to work through the Armstrong materials, the weekly focus group discussion has started to look at the issues in the heart of the project about challenges and HR issues faced by SMEs. After reviewing relevant literature from the collections in Moodle during the independent study week, the members have actively exchanged ideas and information during the session. Next week, the team will look deeper into the situations in Kainuu to determine whether the challenges faced by SMEs here are similar to those in other parts of Finland or abroad. Well done, team! Keep up the excellent motivation, positive learning drives and curiosity about the issues on hand!
The University of Huddersfield SHARPEN students and lecturers have been busily and enthusiastically learning all about HRM in SMEs at our weekly seminars so that the students can apply this knowledge when working with their partner SME. The seminars are always insightful and are built around an ethos of co-learning and intellectual debate and stimulation. The students have certainly been keeping us lecturers on our toes with their level of engagement, enthusiasm and knowledge and we lecturers couldn't be happier about this! It is wonderful to see the team taking ownership of their learning and we are really looking forward to see where this takes us going forward...especially as the intensive study week in Zwickau draws closer. The team are also currently preparing to do a presentation to the CEO of the Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce - another challenge that they are relishing! The Chamber of Commerce is keen to work with us and the students on the project following a meeting between the project team and the head of the Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce a couple of weeks ago. The students are enjoying working with their partner SME and are planning to provide additional support to the SME by doing some volunteering for them in the near future. Working with our partner SME is a really exciting opportunity to forge links between academia and local organisations and we are very much looking forward to the CEO of our partner SME presenting later this month to 50 students taking a HR Strategy module at the University.
Week 10 is the ski holidays in Kainuu. It is also called the 'independent study week' for students. This means, they are not required to attend any physical lectures in school but typically they are given projects or other tasks to be completed during the break. This is also the case for the SHARPEN students. They are tasked to go through the SME and Kainuu literature to prepare for the discussions on the 16.3.
Around this time of the year, the days are getting longer, and nights are getting shorter (soon equal on the 20 March). Also, the weather is perfect for skiing literally anywhere! The nights are still freezing but the days are usually sunny and mild.
Here are some photos to share with participants from other partner regions because next year (2018) when the ISP will take place in Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, this is the divine weather and beautiful environment you will experience as part of the exposure of the Finnish hospitality.
We are really looking forward to have everyone from the project regions to visit us in Kainuu. We hope to give you one of the most memorable experiences and adventure in the beautiful nature of Northern Finland!
Photos: Taken on the frozen Nuas-lake. At the far end is the famous ski resort (photo on the left), Vuokatti. (More Info, click here)
This afternoon, the full KAMK team met the first time after the launch on 22.2 where one member connected through technology. That's the beauty of today's world where people could work and stay connected from different locations, across borders and time zones. The SHARPEN project provided this opportunity for the team to explore new methods to work together and to try out different communication methods. For example, the SHARPEN teams in Kajaani use office 365, Outlook Group, Skype, Adobe Connect, Slacks, FB messaging, Watsapp etc. to work together and to support communication outside face-to-face meetings. In today's business world, virtual team setting and communications through technology are not uncommon; thus, this is an excellent opportunity to test different channels and approaches to make virtual team management effective and efficient in a safe environment.
The eight SHARPEN members will form two teams to work on our partner SME's HRM project. Next week is the independent study week in KAMK; however, the teams have made a long list of action items to skim through the SME literature in addition to the textbook materials and to conduct preliminary research about Kainuu to prepare for their first challenge - present key learnings and findings to their peers from KAMK Finnish degree program on 31.3.
(From left to right: Ruey, Tatiana, Marika, Iikka, Jasper, Violet, Chi, Quang and Yulia)
Students together with the SHARPEN specialists and researches from the Czech SHARPEN team took a part in a first intensive meeting 28th of February. As the project aims to deepen students understanding of HRM issues in SMEs and gives them an opportunity to apply theories to practice, students got to know today basics of the selected HRM topics in connection with specifics of SMEs as well as its practical application in shadowing doing in SMEs in the Liberec region. Moreover they were trained how to carry out quantitative and qualitative data collection for their case studies as well as how to present the aim and perspective of the whole SHARPEN project and an interconnection with the practical needs of SMEs.
The friendly atmosphere and enthusiasm of Czech SHARPEN team give a perspective of great success of the project in all 3 phases and creates for these selected students the remarkable chance in the intercultural and multidisciplinary context.
On 27 February 2017, the SHARPEN project team in Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK) met the HR manager from Herman IT Oy, our partner SME. The one-hour session started with a short self-introduction, followed by some information about the company, its people management situation, continued with an overview of the collaborative project and finally closed with a good discussion. It was a fruitful, productive and interactive session. After the meeting, the participants are motivated and committed to give their best to develop a practical and useful solution for the challenging tasks assigned. Also, the participants are delighted that they have this wonderful opportunity to put their theoretical knowledge to practice.
After many months of hard work, the SHARPEN (SMEs HRM Attraction, Retention and Performance Enhancement Network) project is officially launched today in Finland! Eight motivated students from four nationalities, three study programs and two levels are part of this exciting adventure from 22 February to 2 June 2017. The project aims to deepen students understanding of HRM issues in SMEs and gives them an opportunity to apply theories to practice. Through them, the project will produce practical and useful tools that will help SMEs develop their people management strategies or competencies. Also, the project involves HR researchers, experts and practitioners from different countries, thus making it possible to share ideas, migrate best practices and combining knowledge to address common HRM issues for SMEs in our region. All the participants are looking forward to this exciting opportunity to deepen our knowledge and people management competencies and to meet like-minded professionals through this multi-region and cross-discipline project!
25 Students from 5 countries will experience a week of workshops, lectures and company visits focused around the issue of human resource management in SMEs as a part of SHARPEN project. This meeting will take place in Zwickau from 3rd to 7th April 2017.
After several months of SKYPE meetings, the project team composed of HR academic professionals, project managers and other supporting team members met in Liberec on 30 Nov - 2 Dec, 2016. 15 people from 5 European countries participated in this kick-off meeting.
The meeting was productive and fruitful and many edges were sorted out. Actions and outputs clarified, plans were agreed and now the team has a clear direction to go forward especially when time is extremely scarce for all partners involved. It gave a professional frame to activities which were to come. It was also great to finally put a face to the names of people we have spoken to for months.
Right now selection of the best students from all universities for the first intensive study program is a priority. Become a member of our student team for 2017.