SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's SFA e-zine.  


In this week's edition we provide a roundup from the SFA Annual Lunch 2018 which took place last Friday. 


We advise on work social events and provide tips on balancing an enjoyable night out with keeping it safe this festive season. Find out more about the SFA's statement to the Seanad Public Consultation Committee to exam the issue of fostering and sustaining the Irish small and medium-sized business sector


Share your latest business news in the next edition of our quarterly magazine, Better Business. We invite comments from members on the consultation on seasonal clock changes and link to new research from the National Competitiveness Council which looks at the productivity of Ireland.


Booking is now open for the SFA Members Christmas Evening taking place on 13 December, so book your place to join us for some Christmas cheer. 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

Latest press coverage
  • SFA Annual Lunch

SFA Annual Lunch 2018


The SFA issued a press release on 16 November ahead of the SFA Annual Lunch 2018 calling for a comprehensive tax policy needed for small firms. This was covered in the Irish Times on 17 November. 

SFA Annual Lunch 2018 roundup

The SFA Annual Lunch took place last Friday in the Round Room of the Mansion House. Enclosed are highlights of the event...

The SFA Annual Lunch 2018, sponsored by Bank of Ireland took place on Friday, 16 November in the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin. 400 members of the small business community came together to celebrate Irish entrepreneurship at this event. 


In her speech to guests, SFA Chair, Sue O'Neill identified attracting talent, Brexit and domestic economic stagnation as the biggest risk factors for small firms in 2019. Sue also called for real tax reform as part of a national Small Business Strategy. You can read the press release from the event here


David McWilliams, economist, author, journalist, documentary-maker and broadcaster was the keynote speaker at the event. David delivered a passionate and entertaining speech which include an analysis of Brexit, his ideas on entrepreneurship along with some Yeats quotes. 


You can view photos from the event on our Facebook page

Work social events: balancing an enjoyable night out with keeping it safe

This week we share five steps to help your business get that balance right between your staff having an enjoyable Christmas office party that is fun and without mishap or mayhem...

It is fast approaching that time of year whereby Christmas office parties are in full swing. Organising a staff event is a great way to show your employees that you value and appreciate the work they have done throughout the year and it’s a great way of bringing the team together. However, work-related social events do come with their risks and businesses need to be mindful of their obligations when it comes to organising the Christmas office party in relation to two areas:

  1. Maintain the safety and welfare of the employees. An employer’s obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare Act extends to work-related social events.
  2. Take preventative measures to minimise incidents occurring at the event. These could range from minor grievances right through to discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment.

So what can your business do to minimise the risk of an incident happening at the Christmas office party?


Step 1 – When selecting a venue, place Health and Safety at the top of the agenda


You may want to select the coolest venue in town for your staff or to hold something in the office but remember put health and safety at the top of your agenda. The first being that a party in the office may not be the best location for your event. If you do use an offsite venue, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can the room or space you are selecting comfortably fit your numbers?
  • Are the fire exit doors clearly visible, free of obstruction and easy to access?
  • Can employees with disabilities access the venue with ease?
  • Could someone easily slip on the floor?
  • Is the venue close to public transport links and taxis?

Step 2 - Raise awareness of relevant employment policies in advance of the event


You have selected your venue and you have announced the date of the party. The next step is to remind staff of the following:

  • That the company social event is an extension of the workplace and any breach of company policies at the event will be treated in the same manner.
  • That all employees have a duty of care to remember their health and safety obligations. Also detail what types of behaviour are unsafe and unacceptable.
  • Highlight your policies on bullying and harassment, equality, disciplinary and grievance procedure as well as the health and safety policy. You can either reissue these on the notice board, company intranet or by email to all employees.
  • Anticipate that drug use could be taken at the event so ensure staff are made aware that this is a criminal offence as well as a disciplinary matter and will be treated accordingly.

Step 3 – Brief your managers


In the lead up to the event, ensure managers are briefed on how to deal with inappropriate behaviour and how to manage any awkward conversations that could arise such as performance issues, pay related matters or previous grievances. A good tip to manage those awkward conversations is for the manager to let the employee know they will meet with them in the coming days to discuss the matter back in the office.


Step 4 – Managing the event on the night


There may be a temptation to run an open bar with X amount for the drinks, but this may incur two risk issues:

  1. Some staff might binge drink in a short space of time.
  2. Slower drinkers may not get a fair share of the bar tab which could cause grievances.

The fairest and safest method is to give each staff member a few drink tokens and ensure that there is plenty of food also available as this will help soak up the alcohol.


Actively encourage your staff to leave the car at home and avoid drink driving. You may be able to work out a deal saver with a local taxi firm to get staff home safely or provide subsidised transport if your budget allows for this.


Ensure one or two managers remain sober throughout the event in case of an incident arising.


Have a clear start and end time and ensure that all staff leave the venue by the specified end time.


Step 5 – Manage misconduct or other issues swiftly and fairly


The risks of misconduct or other issues can be much higher at work-related events. It is important to treat all incidents quickly and fairly. Some can be managed immediately such as horseplay but for more serious incidences, it is important to follow your policies and that fair procedures are followed throughout the entire process.


You can download our guidance on running a work-related social event here or if you have a specific issue please contact Helen at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or on 01 605 1668.

Statement to the Seanad Public Consultation Committee

On 13 November, the SFA appeared before the Seanad Public Consultation Committee to exam the creation of an integrated national strategy proposal document supporting the fostering, growth and sustainability of indigenous Irish SMEs...

On 13 November, the Small Firms Association appeared before the Seanad Public Consultation Committee to exam the creation of an integrated national strategy proposal document supporting the fostering, growth and sustainability of indigenous Irish SMEs. Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director and Rebecca Harrison, Owner and Managing Director of Fishers in Newtownmountkennedy presented on behalf of SFA members.


Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director, made an opening statement to the Senators of the committee. He outlined why the SFA is calling for a National Business Strategy. SFA member Rebecca Harrison, Owner and Managing Director of Fishers in Newtownmountkennedy spoke about the challenges currently facing small firms and supported the SFA’s call for a Small Business Strategy that will provide coherence in the policy approach and align all government policies and schemes. You can view the proceedings here. Both statements are also available.


Members of the Committee were receptive to the SFA’s campaign.

Feature your business in the SFA’s Better Business magazine

Find out how you can gain exposure for your business in the winter 2018 edition of our magazine, Better Business...

When reading the quarterly Better Business magazine, you will no doubt have noticed the fantastic exposure given to a wide range of SFA member companies.


The magazine is posted to all SFA members and to the broader SFA network and is also available in some newsagents. Along with the printed publication, there is a digital edition and a Better Business website, which will enable you to profile your business directly to the SFA membership community and beyond.


If you would like your business to feature in the winter 2018 edition of Better Business, follow these simple steps:

  • Share your company news with the SFA: let us know if you have launched a new product, been nominated for an award or undergone a rebrand. Add Elizabeth Bowen (elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie) to your press release list or send a short article (max 150 words) if there is something newsworthy happening in your business. The deadline for news content for the winter 2018 edition is 27 November.
  • Advertise in Better Business: to advertise or place editorial content in the magazine, contact Shane Kelly from the Ashville Media Group directly on 01 432 2234 or shane.kelly@ashvillemediagroup.com. Special rates are available for SFA members.
Invitation for comments on the consultation on seasonal clock changes

SFA members are invited to submit their views and opinions to form part of the SFA submission to the consultation on seasonal clock changes...

SFA members are invited to submit their views and opinions to form part of the SFA submission to the consultation on seasonal clock changes. The purpose of the public consultation is to gather information and views on ending the seasonal clock changes and whether we favour staying on summer or winter time.

  • Choosing summer time means brighter evenings, with darker mornings in the winter than we currently experience.
  • Choosing winter time means brighter mornings, with darker evenings in the summer than we currently experience.

It is important to acknowledge that if the UK were to adopt a different position, this would present particular challenges for the island of Ireland. Any position adopted by Ireland will be informed by this important consideration.


Following an EU-wide public consultation to gather citizens’ views on the seasonal clock changes, the EU Commission has concluded that the majority of people who responded are in favour of abolishing the twice-yearly clock change and have put forward a proposal to give effect to this. Further details on the proposal, together with the arguments for and against changing, are available at: EU summer time arrangements - what is it about?


This consultation asks three important questions:

  • Do you want to stop changing the clocks twice a year?
  • If the clock changes stop, do you want to remain on summer time or winter time?
  • What would your opinion be if this proposal were to give rise to different time zones between Ireland and Northern Ireland?

SFA is keen to hear from members on this issue, as your views and opinions will help us draft our submission. Members are asked to submit their views or opinions to elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie no later than close of business on 27 November 2018.

New research on productivity published

Research by the National Competitiveness Council looks at the productivity of Ireland which is arguably, the most important factor determining long-term economic growth, sustainable wage rates and funding for public services...

The Irish National Competitiveness Council (NCC) has just published its first Productivity Statement. These are the key findings:


Productivity growth is a key determinant of national competitiveness, enabling firms to compete successfully in international markets by facilitating output to be produced more efficiently. It is, arguably, the most important factor determining long-term economic growth, sustainable wage rates and funding for public services.


Labour productivity (output per hour worked) and total factor productivity (the efficiency by which labour and capital are used together) are the two measures of productivity most commonly used.


Ireland’s labour productivity has been catching up with the other developed countries since the mid1990s, with GDP per hour worked above the OECD average and advanced economies. However, this aggregate measure of productivity masks a number of underlying issues.


On a Gross National Income (GNI*) basis, Ireland’s labour productivity is below some selected frontier economies (e.g. Germany and the US), although slightly above the UK, Japan and the OECD average.


When the contribution from the 7 per cent rise in the capital intensity of firms is deducted from labour productivity growth, Ireland’s total factor productivity stagnated over the period 2006-2014.


At sectoral level, there is considerable heterogeneity with Ireland’s productivity performance built upon a narrow base of highly-productive (mainly foreign-dominated) sectors such as Pharmaceuticals and ICT.


In turn, within those sectors, Ireland’s performance is greatly affected by the influence of a small cohort of large, highly-productive enterprises (‘frontier firms’). The narrow base of enterprises in high value-added sectors, and within sectors, disguises many underperforming firms where productivity growth is stagnant or falling.


This divergence is not uncommon in OECD countries but is more severe in Ireland; the OECD recently published firm-level research showing that the labour productivity gap between frontier (mostly foreign-owned) and lagging (mostly domestically-owned) firms is widening over time, which indicates the difficulties the majority of firms face in order to catch up with rapidly-expanding global firms.


These findings also reflect the highly-concentrated nature of Ireland’s economy showing that the top 10 per cent of firms (in terms of sales) account for 87 per cent of valued-added in manufacturing and 94 per cent in services.


Policy to enhance Irish enterprise productivity should be comprehensive and tackle multiple aspects within firms (e.g. innovation and KBC), between firms (e.g. spillovers) and across industries (e.g. diversification) to ensure an effective, broad and sustained impact on Ireland’s competitive base.


The full Productivity Statement can be downloaded here.

SFA Members Christmas Evening 2018 - book now
  • 13 December
  • SFA offices, Dublin

Join us for some Christmas cheer at the SFA Members Christmas Evening 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.

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.