SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine. 


Firstly, a warm welcome to Emma Crowley who has just joined the SFA team in the role of SFA HR Executive.  We also have two new additions to the SFA National Council, as well as a new Chair - be sure to take a look at their biographies.


Thank you to everyone that participated in our competition to win a case of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau wine - we have selected our lucky winner, congratulations again!  If you haven’t already done so, I would like to kindly ask you to take part in the Winter 2019 Small Firms Association’s Business Sentiment Survey. It shouldn’t take longer than 9 minutes.


The SFA Team is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at the Members Christmas Evening on 12 December in the Davenport - this is a free event open to non-members, but we do ask that you please register attendance online first.  If you cannot make it to the Christmas evening, be sure to secure your spot at Business Connect 2020 in Aviva Stadium on 6 February, 2020. 


This week new legislation governing gift vouchers came into operation. We run through these new consumer protections ahead of the busy Christmas period. We also provide guidance and advice for you during the Christmas period so that you and your employees can get together to celebrate and acknowledge the employees’ contribution for the year.


I’d encourage small business owners as they prepare their plans and budgets for the coming 12 months to register for our webinar on 17 December looking at the economic trends and developments in the Irish labour market.  We also provide a summary of our recent press coverage.  

As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me on tel: 01 605 1602 or e-mail: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.


Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director



SFA in the media
  • Green Friday
  • Small Business Saturday
  • SFA Awards
  • SFA Skillet


The SFA featured in the following publications.


Green Friday / Small Business Saturday

This Holiday season, the SFA have been encouraging the public to shop local and support Irish business.  SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, was mentioned in The Irish Examiner,The Kerryman, The Southern Star, The Echo, Longford Leader and the Tuam Herald.  


SFA Awards

Following the SFA press release, the announcement of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2020 Finalists was featured in media across the country, including the Irish Independent and the Irish Examiner.


SFA Skillnet

SFA Skillnet was mentioned in the Irish Independent on 20 November for the two-day management training programme for winners of the Irish Pub Awards sponsored by SFA Skillnet.  



SFA's Top Christmas Party Tips

Learn about how to make sure your office has an enjoyable but trouble-free Holiday season...

Company social events can be a great way of bringing everyone together to encourage staff engagement and celebrate a job well done throughout the year. However, with alcohol involved, inappropriate behaviour is a likely possibility. It is advisable for employers and employees alike to note that any inappropriate behaviour can have serious repercussions for the company and their role. This article provides useful insights to ensure you have a safe and well received party.


  • We advise that all employees plan and arrange their trip home, whether a taxi company is assigned for the night, or whether drivers among the workplace are appointed. Employers have a duty of care notwithstanding the party being out of hours and off site.
  • Review the “Dignity at Work”, “Intoxicants in the Workplace”, “Social Media”, and “Disciplinary and Grievance” Policies and ensure that each document clearly states the employer will not tolerate any breach including at work related social events. Employers should be aware that the party venue is basically an extension of the office and that they remain responsible for the well-being, protection and behaviour of employees during such events. A wealth of sample policy documents, code of practice in relation to sexual harassment and bullying and a guide to hosting a social event are available on the SFA website – www.SFA.ie
  • Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in the festivities and forget about alcohol tolerance levels. Employees are advised to leave their car keys at home, under no circumstances should they drink and drive. Businesses should consider having management volunteer in supervising the event, obviously these assigned supervisors should not consume alcohol to ensure the event is properly controlled, sensible decisions are made, and then there are emergency drivers available. These supervisors should also be coached in advance on how to respond in the event of any unwanted conduct/behaviour.
  • It is recommended to provide food throughout the event to alleviate the impact of alcohol.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks, known as “low alcoholic” or “alcohol free” are now widely available and have become more prominent in Irish social culture. These should be available for those who do not wish to consume alcohol or wish to move away from the booze-based social culture. Having limited alternatives to alcohol drinks discourages those who may wish to make that choice.

Have fun during the festive season. Enjoy your workspace and the company of your co-workers but use common sense. Sensible decision making, reviewing compliance regulations, having a pre-holiday pep talk and having regard to the above tips can help your office have an enjoyable, trouble-free celebration.


If you need further advice, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01 605 1668 or at emma.crowley@sfa.ie 

Informational webinar: Economic information relevant to your business planning and budgeting needs

Register for our webinar on 17 December looking at the economic trends and developments in the Irish labour market... 

The continued strong growth in employment is increasing pressure on businesses to raise wages in order to fill vacancies and retain staff. To understand more about the macro economic trends and developments in the Irish labour market a webinar will held on December 17th with Hazel Ahern-Flynn, Ibec's Economist.  


This webinar will provide the listener with an overview of the current state of the labour market, and recent trends in the Irish economy.


This 30 minute webinar will be of interest to small business owners  as they prepare their plans and budgets for the coming 12 months.


To register click here


It is advised to use Chrome to both book and view this webinar.  


Presenters will be…  

•Hazel Ahern-Flynn, Ibec’s Economist  

•Elizabeth Bowen, Senior Executive, SFA 


New legislation on Gift Vouchers introduced

We run through these new consumer protections ahead of the busy Christmas period...

The Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019 came into operation on Monday 2nd December. 


The Act provides for: 

  • Minimum expiry date of five years for gift vouchers; 

  • Ban on contract terms that require gift vouchers to be spent in one transaction; 

  • Ban on contract terms that limit number of vouchers that can be used in a transaction; and  

  • Ban on cancellation of gift vouchers or imposition of charges by airlines where name of gift voucher recipient differs from name on passport. 

The Act applies to gift vouchers defined ‘as any voucher, coupon, or other document or instrument, including in electronic form, that is intended to be used as a substitute for money in the payment, in whole or in part, for goods or services or otherwise exchanged for goods or services.


We encourage all members selling gift vouchers to familiarise themselves with the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers Act) 2019: Information note and FAQs.  


SFA National Council & HR Executive Update

A warm welcome to the new SFA Chair Graham Byrne and new SFA HR Executive Emma Crowley...

At the SFA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 27 November, two new Council members were elected to the National Council: Rebecca Harrison, Fishers of Newtownmountkennedy, and Patrick Downes, Lionheart, followed Des Cummins, whose term had ended, and Sean Walsh who didn’t stand for re-election. At the AGM, Sue O’Neill thanked Des and Sean for their years of service and welcomed Rebecca and Pat to the Council. Re-elected at the AGM were Andrea Linehan, Adeola Ogunsina, Dave Byrne, Geraldine Magnier and Graham Byrne. To see all of the SFA Council members and their biographies please click here


After the AGM, the newly elected SFA National Council met for its first meeting. At this meeting, Graham Byrne, Managing Director of Cardinal Capital, was elected as the new SFA Chair. He follows Sue O’Neill who, after a three-year term, didn’t stand for re-election. The Council thanked Sue for her tremendous contribution to the work of the SFA and the small business agenda. Sue will remain on the Council as immediate past Chair. 


We are also delighted to inform you that Emma Crowley has been appointed to the role of SFA HR Executive. Emma worked as a HR Manager with Supervalu and also worked with Dunnes Stores as a HR Manager. Emma holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from UCC and completed Ibec’s Diploma in Employment Law. Emma takes over from Helen Quinn who has been appointed to the role of Employer Relations Executive in the Knowledge Centre of Ibec’s Employer Relations division. 


We would like to take the opportunity to wholeheartedly thank Helen for all her hard work and dedication to her role and to helping our members. We wish her every success in her new role. 


You can contact Emma by phone 01 6051668 or at emma.crowley@sfa.ie 


Please join us in welcoming to the SFA and wishing her every success in her new role. 

SFA Skillnet – Leaders Round Table and Online Programme

Places are filling up fast for the SFA Skillnet leaders’ round table sessions and do avail of our online training programme offers...

Only three seats remain on the SFA Skillnet flagship course – the SFA Skillnet leaders’ round table programme – commencing on the 11th December, with three monthly half-day follow up sessions. Led by the esteemed Brian F. Smyth, this course has been designed specifically for small businesses as a unique business development programme for leaders and senior managers who want to take their business to a new performance level.


The programme will be workshop based, presenting an excellent opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, as well as helping you to think in more creative ways so that you can achieve real breakthroughs on the issues, challenges and opportunities of most importance to your business. This creates the necessary environment for embedding long-term learning, sustainable behaviour change and concrete business results.


For more information on the Leaders’ Roundtable Programme contact Tillie Keogh, phone 01 605 1695 or email tilliem.keogh@sfa.ie.


Online training programmes


SFA Skillnet are running a set of exciting online training programmes this winter in partnership with Maybe International. These programmes have been expertly designed to help small business owners and managers to tackle specific performance issues, such as unsatisfactory performance amongst employees to handling feedback, by giving them the necessary toolkit to overcome them.


There are six online training courses available, covering a range of topics:


1. Initiating Performance Conversations

  • In this course you will be introduced to three different conversation approaches, so that you will be equipped to deal with any given situation – making the conversation easier, clearer and much more effective.

2. Integrating Work and Life

  • This course will help you and your team to a new understanding of work and the part it can play in the totality of a person’s life. It will deal with the falls clash that can exist between work and the rest of our lives, a perceived conflict which damages and limits both.

3. The Gap between Performance and Potential

  •  This course will help managers appreciate and realise the gap between the performance of people and their real, often hidden potential.

4. Handling Feedback

  • This course will help managers deal with gaps in perspective or viewpoints when handling conversations or unsatisfactory performance, by introducing them to a process that will get them and the other person into the same place – a place of positivity, change and improvement.

5. Un(b)locking Performance and Greatness

  • While we all know that we and our people are not realising our full potential, we don’t understand the reasons behind this. Nor do we know what to do about it. In this course you will learn why and how this happens so that you can discover how you, or the organisation, might be inadvertently blocking people from realising more of their potential. The benefits from doing this will be enormous.

6. The Factors behind Unsatisfactory Performance

  • This course will help you develop a deeper understanding of the drivers behind unsatisfactory behaviour or performance of a person and so enable you to give the person real help. It will also give you the clues and the pointers to find out what is really going on with the person with unsatisfactory performance.


Programme Format


These programmes are delivered exclusively online, offering participants a large degree of flexibility – as they can be completed anywhere, at any time – suiting the needs of your business.


The courses could be completed in roughly one hour. However, we recommend that they are taken over the course of one week to allow you to reflect on learning, check your understanding and strategically apply what you have learnt.




The online programmes are competitively priced:


SFA Member & SFA Skillnet Member Rate     €65

Non-Member Rate                                           €85

SFA Members Christmas Evening
  • 12 December

Join us for some Christmas cheer at the SFA Members Christmas Evening. This is a light-hearted evening where you can make new business connections and catch up with familiar faces.

This year, we will be hosting the evening at The Davenport starting from 6pm on 12 December.


Speaker TBA.


This is a free event open to any friends or colleagues that you wish to bring along, but we do ask that you please register online.  We look forward to seeing you all there for some Christmas fun!

SFA On-Line GDPR Programme
  • 31 December

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a ground-breaking piece of data protection legislation, which came into force on 25 May 2018, has a significant impact on all organisations, as it enhances the data protection rights of employees, imposes specific obligations on employers and introduces severe financial penalties for non-compliance.


Enrol your staff and managers to ensure they are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.


This course will provide participants with the knowledge to:

• Describe personal information and data subject rights
• Define consent
• Explain the role of the Data Protection Commission, Data Controller, Data Processor and the Data Protection Officer
• Determine accountability
• Conduct breach management and outline our role in the prevention of breaches
• Outline data subject access requests
• Understand the issue of privacy and its implications


Member rate €70 | Non-member rate €80


Book on here

Business Connect 2020
  • 6 February

Business Connect is an event that brings together small business with leading medium and large companies across a wide range of industries. It is an opportunity to hear from small firms that have succeeded in securing major customers and clients and delegates also get a rare view inside the buying processes and decision making in some of Ireland’s leading companies.


The event will be attended by over 300 businesses large and small and it is a great platform for learning and networking. The event also showcases the best in Irish small business through the SFA Awards Programme, where awards finalists and emerging new businesses exhibit along with SFA awards sponsors and partners.


Our 2020 event will have three sessions

  • Getting the business
  • Influencing to win the business (delivered by David Meade) and
  • Sustaining Ambition – Innovation and Sustainability


Doors will open from 8.30am for registration and networking with sessions starting at 9.30am. The event will conclude at 1pm with a networking lunch.


Member Rate: €49 + VAT

Non-Member Rate: €99 + VAT