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To invest or not to invest (in people): that is the question!

Over the years I’ve worked with many companies who either have or have been working towards achieving Investors in People (IIP) accreditation. Likewise, I’ve come across as many sceptics who think that IIP is a sham and a waste of time and effort. Many within this latter category want the kudos of having the ‘badge’ but don’t actually believe in recognising employees.

So, what do I think?

Well, first and foremost, it depends on the company – or, more particularly, the owner and/or directors of the business – and what they want to achieve. Many of those who know me will have heard me say on many occasions that in the majority of companies the employees are the most important asset and that without them, there would be no business. Sadly, there are many business owners who do not believe this.

However, for those that do, IIP can be a great way to develop your staff in tandem with your business goals. Many successful businesses are doing this already, either with IIP in place or, in many instances, without realising that what they are actually operating is a sort of ‘unofficial’ IIP scheme.

Taking this a step further, there are companies that do not have a structured business strategy and that do not plan or evaluate their strengths or weaknesses. For me, these are often the best companies to embrace IIP – especially if the directors fall in the “employees = important asset” category.
Setting off on the IIP route will kick start the business owner into looking at his broader business strategy aimed at improving the performance of the business and ensuring that this is clearly defined and understood. The next stage is to determine how the learning and development of the staff can assist the business in achieving its objectives.

The key thereafter, is simply to develop the strategies for managing the people and ensuring that managers have the necessary tools and skills for this to happen.

If you really believe in your employees the process is not exactly rocket science. It is quite simply a methodical process designed to enable the business owner to demonstrate the importance of the staff to the success of the business via a continual process of advice, assessment, recognition and review.

Investors in People (the organisation) will tell you that embracing IIP will, amongst other things, increase productivity, improve quality, reduce sickness absence and staff turnover, resulting in increased financial performance and profitability.

However, I would suggest that many small companies do not require IIP to achieve these improvements. Nonetheless, they should start by instilling a set of values within the company that are embraced by its employees. The most successful way to achieve this is for the staff themselves to determine the values ensuring an immediate and automatic ‘buy-in’.

It is not possible to cover all the plusses and minuses of IIP in a short article (I could write on this for days!). However, the one key question in determining its potential benefits to an organisation is “Do you as the business owner believe in your staff?” If the answer to this is “Yes”, then it is clearly something that you should consider. Remember, though, you don’t necessarily need the IIP ‘badge’ to demonstrate your belief in your staff!

“There is evidence to suggest that good HR practice and people management in SMEs are key factors in strong business performance and can lead to increased productivity.”

- CIPD people Skills Project 2017


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