Monthly Archives: May 2014

5 ways to motivate and retain staff (that might surprise you)

I attended a roundtable event recently, and amid the debate were some interesting views on how best to attract and retain talent within technology, media and telecoms (aka, TMT).

Some attendees admitted a desire to move their businesses out of London – declaring its talent pool too costly and too shallow. And, yet, I would argue that London is home to some of the best talent in the UK – with more opportunity for employers to motivate and retain staff than anywhere else in the country.

Meanwhile there’s a growing trend among leading companies to use counter-intuitive methods to motivate and engage staff. Take Amazon, for example. Last month we saw the company launch a new programme where it offered its own employees thousands of pounds to leave the company – with the brand’s US CEO, Jeff Bezos, calling it a tactic to ensure they really wanted to work there.

This is just one recent example of how leading companies are using counter-intuitive methods to retain and motivate their staff.

Here are five other innovative methods to retain and attract top talent to your business.

1.Promote health and fitness
In today’s technology-obsessed world, it’s important to encourage employees to step away from their computers from time and time and focus on their health and well-being. Offer private sessions at the office with personal trainers, or even individual boot camps sessions during office hours. These methods, along with free gym memberships, are just the ticket to motivating and engaging employees.

Another way to engage staff is to arrange free one-on-one sessions with nutritionists who can provide advice on how to lead healthier lifestyles. And instead of treating the office with pizzas and pastries, why not offer healthier snacks that incorporate gluten-free and are lower fat?

2.Holidays and travel
Travel is a major appeal for lots of people. And offering the chance to board a plane and see some of the world is a great way to engage your staff with their work and your business.

You can do this by offering holidays for staff who hit targets, or by running company competitions with the chance to travel to an exotic location as the prize. In fact, the US software company, Full Contact, has gone so far as to pay its staff an extra £4,460 to take holidays.  And if the time isn’t taken? The employee doesn’t receive the money.

3.The Google Approach
In true Google fashion, the internet giant aims to strip away everything that gets in the way of its employees enjoying their work, and the brand’s package of fringe benefits is impressive. Each office around the world offers gyms, dry cleaning services and laundry rooms, haircuts, first-rate dining facilities and even carwashes.

As Google’s CEO Eric Schmitt put it: “Let’s face it, programmers want to program, they don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both.”

4.Flexible working
It’s widely acknowledged that employees are motivated by flexible working hours. Talent can be retained and motivated by developing a culture where work fits around the personal lives of employees. Offering staff the chance to start late, finish early, change days, work from home, take time out to sing in a choir, work in a hospice, study and so on, is proven to have positive results when it comes to employee relations.

Flexible working not only motivates employees, but also offers them a chance to escape the stresses of the office and give something back to enrich their personal lives.

5.iPads and iPhones
Supplying employees with top of the range technology like iPads and iPhones helps keep all of those tech aficionados out there interested in your business. It also offers people the chance to keep in touch with their working environment, social media channels and news outlets. On a more practical level these gadgets allow employees the opportunity to interconnect their documents, take meeting notes and research at the touch of a button.


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The toys of summer


With the 2014 Fifa World Cup kicking off on June 12, electrical retailers have a fantastic opportunity to leverage the excitement around the event and turn it into increased sales across their product portfolios.

Not only that, but with Wimbledon taking place during the tournament, and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games commencing on July 23, we’re heading swiftly towards an accidental summer of sport.

Beyond the traditional football-themed, in-store competitions and promotional prices to attract customers in the lead-up to and during these events, what else can savvy electrical retailers do to increase footfall and ultimately drive sales during this exciting time of sport?

The World Cup is set to be broadcast on terrestrial television, which means that it will be available for everyone to watch. However, the time difference between Brazil and the UK may preclude younger viewers from watching the matches taking place later in the evening. This presents the perfect opportunity for retailers to promote sales of smart TVs and PVRs with catch-up services, so that fans can watch games broadcast late at night in the UK the next day at a more feasible hour. Electrical retailers should be promoting top-of-the-range devices with recording functionality like the Freeview HD + to exploit this golden opportunity.

To add to this, electrical retailers must capitalise on the fact that during the World Cup football fans will be looking to follow their teams on the widest screen possible to make themselves feel like they’re part of the action in Brazil, and create a party atmosphere in their homes.

In order to tap into this market, retailers should be promoting big screen-size television sales as the world gears up for the event. With GfK quoting that 60 per cent of global TV sales are over 40in and 36 per cent of those are smart TVs, there’s an opportunity for all. For the first time ever, certain games throughout the tournament, including the final, will be broadcast in 4K. Therefore, in the coming weeks and months consumers will be more open than ever to purchasing Ultra HD TVs, and it’s paramount that electrical retailers get those people through their doors to make these major purchases.

Here retailers should have in store brand ambassadors offering advice on the best devices and recommending 4K TVs, which globally are expected to top 10 million units in 2014 as forecasted by GfK.

However, these major sporting events are not just about TV sales and retailers shouldn’t underestimate the opportunity for incremental sales within other categories. For example, we can’t forget that the World Cup will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live, presenting football fans with an alternative way to follow their favourite teams. People around the UK will be listening on the road, in the garden, or simply while pottering around their homes. This presents another fantastic opportunity for electrical retailers to boost sales of high-end DAB digital radios and offer consumers the best listening experience possible supported by D-Love and the efforts of Digital Radio UK.

Finally, it’s important for retailers not to overlook another crucial market – people with absolutely no interest in sport. This sizeable group of consumers will also need to be entertained this summer, and they are the perfect group to target with catch-up devices. These devices offer the perfect opportunity for people to plan their own entertainment and to tune out the football chatter taking place all around them.

With four weeks of world-class football overlayed with Andy Murray’s bid to retain his Wimbledon title, followed rapidly by the Commonwealth Games, the opportunities for brands to get a piece of the action are endless. Historically we’ve seen a sharp increase in TV sales during the past three World Cup tournaments, and we can say with confidence that this is an opportunity not to be overlooked.

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What Will Ever Become of VAIO?


Ever since Sony’s announcement in early February to divest the VAIO brand, we’ve not heard much. Created in 1996, it became a global brand with that famous analogue wave and digital symbolism, creating a globally recognised logo that overcame language barriers. So what next for VAIO?

The brand in the UK seems unloved, stock-filling the channel at high end prices for low spec, and it would appear, with virtually no marketing support from Sony. Are we seeing the dying embers of the VAIO brand being packaged up to be sold to the highest bidder, or the self-destruction of a very youthful, global brand?

Whilst technology usage habits have changed, I think it’s fair to say that VAIO didn’t meet the demands of consumers. A poor tablet proposition and equally poor build quality and cut through in that very important corporate space has meant that VAIO has not moved ahead, or indeed along, with the current times. Like every PC manufacturer must, making significant inroads in B2B to support the consumer market is crucial in order to drive brand equity through cleverly designed and attractive products which create desire, need and want appeal with everyone. Google’s minimalist Chromebook is testament to this and OEM support from industry leading brands Acer, HP and Toshiba will serve to benefit these brands alike. But not being able to bring a viable VAIO tablet to market is disheartening for such a massive brand. Worldwide sales of tablets to end users reached 195.4 million units in 2013, a 68 per cent increase on 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. The demand for tablets is palpable and growing.

The tablet market has become a challenging environment for branded hardware-driven players. In 2013, Microsoft’s tablet volumes improved but share remained small. Despite Microsoft now acting more rapidly to evolve Windows 8.1, its ecosystem still failed to capture major consumers’ interests on tablets. Samsung exhibited the highest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336 per cent, in 2013. With Apple having just announced its second quarter figures stating that every 2 in 3 iPads purchased were done so by new users and forecasting that tablet users will overtake PC numbers in the coming years, perhaps we can see why Sony is selling its PC business and the potential loss of a successful brand in the market.

With EE announcing the abandonment of one of the globe’s most recognised and respected brands in the UK since 1994 that is Orange, in favour of the infant EE brand, are we seeing those technology brands of the nineties expiring as they no longer speak to an audience 20 years on?

I suspect the VAIO and Orange brands won’t disappear from the market. After all, France Telecom has just rebranded all of its European telecom business to Orange. Maybe the introduction to new and fresh markets will see VAIO thrive where it seems to have failed to create new markets for itself. No doubt VAIO will live another day, but why build a brand to then abandon it? Confidence and zeal to survive must be innate in a brand to give it the tools it needs to innovate and be considered in the mix by consumers in a crowded, style and brand conscious “digital” marketplace.

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