Investors in People accreditation

March 10, 2016

A client recently expressed an interest in Investors in People accreditation and so when the opportunity to attend an Introduction to Investors in People conference came up we jumped at the chance to learn more about the IIP standard.

IIP is currently transitioning accreditation from Version 5 to Version 6. Version 5 was launched in 2005 and as the business world has changed significantly over the last ten years IIP determined that a new framework was required. Version 6 has focus on the destination of the business, the opportunity for national and international benchmarking and rather than aiming for a set award, as was the case in Version 5, the business is assessed and an award is assigned.

The value of IIP has been debated over the years; some feel it is a valuable tool that enables a business to work towards being the best that it can be and then receiving recognition for their achievement. Others take a more ‘do it yourself for yourself’ approach, preferring to see progress as for the benefit of the business not to achieve an award. However having attended the conference we learnt about the key principles that encompass IIP and believe that most businesses could benefit from working towards them, providing the focus is not a shiny award but to genuinely make the business a great place for all involved then aiming for IIP accreditation is a good method to get there.

To keep things as simplistic as possible we have broken down each of the key principles of IIP to establish what they will mean to our client and here are our thoughts:

  • The first key principle of IIP is about knowing the destination of your business. If you don’t know where you are going it is likely that different people, teams, departments will end up going in different directions rather than working collaboratively to achieve an overall goal. However, before you can work out where you want to go, you first need to know where you are! Only by knowing where you are now can you determine how far you have to go to be where you want to be and the steps you need to take to get there. The process of establishing where you are now and the design of the plan for how you are going to get to where you want to be, should involve people from all areas of the business. It will be vital to understand what each person, team, department etc. wants to achieve to understand impact on others within the business and ensure that there are no detrimental effects or if there are, that these can be overcome.
  • Next is the importance of effective leadership. Now of course there are common themes as to what make an effective leader; those that provide structure, empower employees, clearly communicate etc. however there may be specific qualities that your business wants and needs in its leaders. This may be because of your particular organisation structure or culture, whatever the factors are, the point is to be able identify what these qualities are and then devise a way of measuring the effectiveness of your current leaders against them. Leaders that prove to possess the vast majority of these qualities should be encouraged to act as role models to others and those that are not meeting expectations should receive the coaching and training they require to enable them to do so.
  • Another key principle of IIP is culture and communication. Culture can seem like an overwhelming concept to work on because it can appear intangible however culture can be seen clearly through the behaviour of employees. The importance of a positive culture cannot be underestimated as it provides individuals with a strong sense of belonging and knowledge of what is expected of them. A good way to establish a positive culture or to change one that has become negative is to design a set of values for the business that let both internal and external people know that ‘this is the way we work here’. It is not enough though to just have a set of values; arguably the behaviours that embody the values are of even higher importance as these provide people with guidelines as to how they need to work. Good communication is essential and it’s important that the lines go in every direction within the business i.e. top to bottom, bottom to top and -across. Communication lines should have clear processes which work for your business. Examples of good communication processes include monthly 1-2-1s, annual / bi-annual appraisals, team meetings, regular bulletins, staff town halls / conferences etc. however it may be that not all methods work for your business. It is best to test a few that you believe will work for your business and through trial and error establish a winning formula.
  • IIP also focuses on the importance of not only having a skilled workforce now but also one that will have the necessary skills required in the future. Establishing the skills that your workforce has at the moment, for example through a skill matrix, can be great for identifying gaps of knowledge in the business as a whole or for specific individuals which can then be filled through training, self-study etc. Also, by working out where your workforce are now you can determine the steps they will need to take to have the relevant skills as the business grows over the next 5, 10, 20 years’ time. Without a crystal ball it can be difficult to establish what will be required of your business over the decades as changes in technology, the economy etc. can be unpredictable. However through research and deciding on a destination for the business you should be able to come up with an idea of the skills that your workforce will require and as a result create a Learning and Development plan that will get everyone to where they need to be.
  • The last principle to be discussed is performance management. It is important for individuals at all levels of the business to know what their objectives are, be able to demonstrate what they have done to achieve them and that they are valued. Once you have worked out the destination that you want your business to get to its important that the performance management process reflects the plan of how you are going to get there. Objectives may take many forms depending on job role e.g. customer satisfaction, sales targets, financial, however the important thing is that they take the form of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals so that each individual knows what is expected of them and knows what they need to do to achieve them. Celebrating success along the way is also imperative, if an employee feels recognised for each significant step they are taking rather than waiting to receive reward at the final destination then they are far more likely to feel valued and build loyalty to the business.

Click here if you would like more information about IIP and if you think IIP accreditation could work for you then please contact your HR Professional to discuss how they can help you get there!

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