SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's SFA e-zine.  


In this edition we advise on work-related stress, what it is and how to manage it in your business. 


Yesterday we launched next year's Business Connect event taking place on 7 February 2019 in the Aviva Stadium, bookings are now open so be sure to register your place. 


We bring you an update on work permit processing times and an opportunity to partner with UCD Smurfit Business School for a piece of consultancy work for your business. If you haven't already done so please share your views with us on the rising cost(s) of motor insurance


Don't miss your chance to join us this Thursday (13 December) for some festive networking at the SFA Members Christmas Evening. Book a place at the next SFA webinar on 18 December focusing on the characteristics of successful retailers and register to attend Business Bytes on 9 January which will discuss workplace health and well-being. On 31 January we will be running our first digital marketing masterclass with 3XE focusing on social media fundamentals for small businesses, find out more below. We also provide a summary of 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

Recent press coverage
  • SFA Awards

SFA National Small Business Awards 2019


The SFA issued a press release on 4 December announcing the finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019. This was covered in:

Work related stress: what is it and how to manage it

This week we look at what is work related stress, what can cause it and some steps that businesses can take to manage work related stress…

In the recent ERSI report on job stress and working conditions, they stated that “17 per cent of Irish employees experienced job stress. This was an increase from 8 per cent in 2010, meaning that job stress doubled over the course of five years.” Whilst Ireland is below average across nine other countries in Western Europe, the report highlights that we are one of the countries that is “showing the steepest increase in job stress between 2010 and 2015.”


Work related stress is a growing issue and is one of the top ten queries that the SFA received this year so we take you through the definition of work related stress, some potential causes of it and a five step plan to help you manage it.


What is work related stress?


The Health and Safety Authority guideline defines Work Related Stress as “stress caused or made worse by work. It simply refers to when a person perceives the work environment in such a way that his or her reaction involves feelings of an inability to cope. It may be caused by perceived/ real pressures/ deadlines/ threats/ anxieties within the working environment.”


What this means is that stress itself is not an illness but the impact of stress could bring about physical or mental illnesses. In addition, work related stress affects people in different ways. One person may thrive in a highly pressurised environment and another person will suffer under it.


Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, all employers must have a safety statement in place that outlines the hazards and risks in their workplace. It needs to document the control measures to eliminate or reduce those hazards or risks and this applies to both physical and mental hazards.  


Work related stress is not a one-way street where the employer carries all of the burden, it is important that employees are made aware of their health and safety obligations, so they need to inform you if they are experiencing work related stress as you cannot resolve the issue unless you are aware of it.


What can cause work related stress?


Listed below are some examples of what may cause work related stress or what the Health and Safety Authority refer to as psychosocial hazards such as:

  • Job content: Lack of variety, meaningless or repetitive work, ill-defined work roles
  • Workload: Either too much or too little work, high pressure for prolonged periods
  • Work schedule: Change in work schedule, inflexible or unpredictable or unsocial work hours, night shift working
  • Control: Lack of control over workload, little to no input in decision making
  • Environmental: Threat of violence, poor equipment or poor conditions in the workplace

The SFA five step plan to managing work related stress

  1. Create a culture that recognises and welcomes discussion on work related stress

Create an open culture that allows an employee to approach you if they are struggling with work related stress especially if there is a change to the business, for example expansion, redundancies, change in shift patterns and so forth. Encourage input from your employees as they may be able to provide solutions to an issue that could be causing work related stress.

  1. Do not ignore complaints of work related stress

It is essential that you do not dismiss or ignore complaints of work related stress even if they may appear to be frivolous. It is important to meet with and listen to the employee. Even the act of sitting with them and actively listening can make a big difference to the employee. It may be possible that both of you can work out a plan of action to reduce or remove the cause of the work related stress or some other workable solution for both parties.

  1. Avail of the Work Positive Tool to assess potential risks of work related stress

The Health and Safety Authority have relaunched their Work Positive Tool which you can avail of for free. It takes the user through a series of questions and gives an indication in certain key areas of work related stress. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and is a great way to assess what, if any areas you need to work on. It is ideal for businesses that have 10 or more employees.

  1. Create a policy that deals with work related stress

The Work Positive tool is a great starting point in 1) identifying 2) defining and 3) controlling those risks and hazards and will form the back bone of your policy on work related stress or well-being policy.

  1. Follow up with sick certs that cite work related stress

If you receive a sick cert that cites work related stress follow up with the employee whilst they are on sick leave to see if you can offer them any additional supports. This could be a phased return to work, a change of duties if possible, or access to an Employee Assistance programme. 


EAPIreland are part of the SFA affinity programme and are offering discounts on EAP services to our members.


If you have any further queries on work related stress or need additional advice contact Helen Quinn on 01 605 1668 or helen.quinn@sfa.ie.

Business Connect

Now in its second year, Business Connect on 7 February 2019 is an exciting marketplace event designed to give delegates a window into the decision making and purchasing processes of Ireland’s leading companies....

The 2019 Small Firms Business Connect Showcase takes place on Thursday, 7 February 2019 in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.


Now in its second year Business Connect is an exciting marketplace event designed to give delegates a window into the decision-making processes of Ireland’s leading companies.


At the showcase, delegates will hear from experts on how to work together with large organisations and case studies on small firms that have successfully cooperated with multinationals, as well as key insights on issues like Brexit.


The finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards will exhibit at the showcase along with the sponsors of the awards programme.


Business Connect 2019 runs from 8am to 3pm with structured speed networking from 2pm to 3pm and the event is compered by journalist Richard Curran.


Tickets are €49 for SFA Members and €99 for non-members and can be booked here

Reminder - Share your views on the rising cost(s) of motor insurance

The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach is seeking the views of SFA members on progress made to address the Rising Cost(s) of Motor Insurance since 2016...

The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach is seeking the views of SFA members on progress made to address the Rising Cost(s) of Motor Insurance since 2016.


In 2016, the Committee published “Report on the Rising Costs of Motor Insurance”. In January 2017, a subsequent report was published by the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG), under the direction of the Minister of State at the Department of Finance. The Joint Committee monitors Government progress in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the CIWG report and has met with the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael D’Arcy, T.D. on a number of occasions in that regard.


On 15 November, the Joint Committee considered the Seventh Progress Update Report of the Working Group with the assistance of the Minister of State. In evidence presented to the Committee, the Minister stated that, “the most recent CSO figures for October 2018, which indicates that private motor insurance premia have decreased by 22.9% since peaking in July 2016”.


To draft our submission, I would ask that you return your contribution before close of business on Friday, 14 December to elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie.

Work permit processing times

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation would like to apologise to Small Firm Association members’ experiencing difficulties as a result of delays they may be encountering in the processing of employment permit applications...

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation would like to apologise to Small Firm Association members’ experiencing difficulties as a result of delays they may be encountering in the processing of employment permit applications.


The Department experienced a high volume of applications in recent weeks and, unfortunately, this has led to some delays. They have informed the SFA that they are working to reduce the current waiting times of:

  • 5 weeks for Trusted Partner applications
  • 12 weeks for Standard applications

Further information about current processing dates are available at Employment Permit Processing Dates.

Opportunity to partner with UCD Smurfit Business School

Your company has an opportunity to partner with one or more student groups undertaking their Masters in Project Management at UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business...  

Your company has an opportunity to partner with one or more student groups undertaking their Masters in Project Management at UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business. As part of their Scope & Feasibility module, Masters student study teams of 4 or 5 conduct a feasibility analysis where they examine a company and offer options for expansion or development.


During the first class of the semester on Monday, 21 January 2019, the classes will listen to 15 minute presentations from the companies participating, and each group will rank their choices of company to work with, and then be allocated (by the Programme Director, Joe Houghton) 1 company to work with. There are around 10 student groups across 2 classes, so each company will probably have 1 or 2 student groups working with them.


The group’s output is a professionally presented consultancy type report, delivered in early April 2019. Based on expected effort for such an assignment, each student would typically put in around 100 hours of effort into researching and writing up this report, so your company would benefit from 1 or 2 x 400-500 hours of high-quality consultancy input from a set of multi-national and highly motivated groups of top students at one of the world’s top 100 Business Schools.


If your company is interested in taking part in this please contact joe.houghton@ucd.ie for more details before 21 December 2018.

SFA Members Christmas Evening 2018
  • 13 December
  • SFA offices, Dublin

Join us for some Christmas cheer at the SFA Members Christmas Evening, sponsored by SBCI on Thursday 13 December in the SFA offices 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2 from 6pm. This is a light hearted evening where you can make new business connections and catch up with familiar faces.


On the evening Mark Downey, a Certified Voice and Presence Coach will share some key tips to get the best out of your voice to give a powerful speech or presentation.


Attendance is free but please register your attendance online. Feel free to bring a colleague or a friend as a guest and also register them online.

SFA Webinar: The characteristics of successful retailers
  • 18 December

On Tuesday, 18 December from 11.30am- 12:00pm Owen Clifford, Head of the Retail Sector in Bank of Ireland will deliver a SFA webinar entitled “Perpetual Motion – the characteristics of successful retailers”. 


Owen will demonstrate how the core principles of retail – knowing your customer, building & developing your team and progressive in-store investment remain a fundamental requirement of any successful business strategy in the sector.  It’s the execution of these principles which marks out the leading retailers from the crowd – are you maximising the potential of your retail business?


Register online now for the webinar.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you can't make this time, you can still register for the session and we'll send you a link to the recording afterwards so you can playback in your own time.

The wealth of business depends on the health of workers
  • 9 January
  • SFA offices, Dublin

The SFA Business Bytes events, which are entirely free of charge, offer small businesses access to expert information and advice and an opportunity to network with their peers. The series is supported by Bord Gáis Energy.

  • Date: Wednesday, 9 January
  • Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
  • Location: SFA/ Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2.

The World Health Organisation has defined the workplace as an optimum place to promote health through collaboration and use of a continual improvement process to protect the health, safety and well-being of all workers. Companies of all sizes have an opportunity and responsibility to embed a credible wellbeing program into the workplace culture that will improve society. 


This health and well-being seminar will demonstrate how to implement effective wellness programs, collect and analyse data, measure your return on investment and further valuable information. No matter what size your organisation or industry is, you can benefit from attending this event.


The seminar will be delivered by David Casey, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager/ Dental Professional at DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland Ltd.


A member of the SFA team will give you a sneak preview of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, launching January 10. Grow, Scale, Succeed will provide small business with a variety of resources to enable them to recruit and retain employees as well as embrace Smart Working which is the combination of technology with flexible working arrangements.


The event will last for approximately one hour with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.


This event is entirely free of charge, but you must pre-register online.

Social media fundamentals for small businesses
  • 31 January

SFA are partnering with 3XE to deliver a Digital Marketing Executive Series for Small Businesses. The first event on Thursday, 31 January 2019 will be on social media fundamentals for small businesses. The three hour-long workshop will be delivered by industry experts in the world of social media marketing. 


Breaking through the noise with your social media content


Colm Hanratty is the owner of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital, a company that helps businesses get more from their social media marketing… by being social. Since the company was founded in 2013, they have worked with clients from a wide range of industries, both in Ireland and overseas. Colm also trains regularly with businesses all around Ireland. On January 31, Colm is one of the three tutors that will deliver the SFA Executive Series on Digital Marketing. Colm will talk about the importance of good content in a successful social media strategy.


Presentation overview:


Between algorithm changes and so many businesses using social media channels as a marketing platform, getting your content seen has become increasingly difficult. But there are still tactics you can employ to generate wide organic reach on the main social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

There are two things that are critical to any social media plan – a tight content strategy and an understanding of the tools being used to ensure that the content reaches the masses. This session will cover both of these topics. Topics will include:

  • Breakdown of the social media algorithms for the main channels
  • What you need to think about when devising your content strategy
  • The best time to share on social media
  • Examples of Irish brands breaking through the noise with their content
  • How to manage your time to ensure you remain active cross-channel

After the half day, the audience will have a greater understanding of how to utilise various social media channels to help their business grow.


Our aim is to give the audience a practical guide on social media on how to expand your network, connect with potential customers, engage with your customers and increase sales.  

  • Date: Thursday, 31 January 2019
  • Time: 9:15am to 12:30pm
  • Venue: SFA/Ibec Offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2
  • Cost: €135 +VAT SFA Members, €185 +VAT non-members
  • Package: All three Digital Marketing Executive Series events €345 +VAT SFA Members, €475 +VAT non-members

Book online now




Online GDPR training

Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR...

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 on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.

Benefits on online training:

  • Accessible
  • Cost effective
  • Scalable

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

Cost: €70 per license  

Key features

  • 30 minute duration
  • Interactive exercises
  • Short assessment
  • Certificate of completion


This programme has been designed in conjunction with Dillon Production. Participant name(s) and email address(es) will be forwarded to Dillion Production for the sole purposes of setting up the login for this programme. If you are making a booking on behalf of someone else, please ensure you have obtained their consent to share their contact information (name and email address).

Book online now or contact the event organiser Raquel de la Pena Sarrion with any queries on raquel.delapena@ibec.ie or on 01 605 1667.