Investors in People Special Report: Getting big companies involved

Investors In People UK have introduced an initiative specifically designed to address the problems encountered by large companies in gaining IIP recognition. Recent research has highlighted particular problem areas which will need to be addressed if the IIP National Training Target of 70 per cent of all organisations with 200-plus employees is to be reached by the year 2000. Figures suggest around 35 per cent of such companies are committed or recognised by the scheme.

While this figure is above the national average penetration rate, Investors In People UK are keen to improve the take-up rate and speed of recognition among large companies. Commitment from such organisations not only results in the immediate involvement of thousands of employees but means high- profile companies are seen to take the lead in this area - an example to customers, competitors and even suppliers.

Last year, Investors In People UK produced a report into the barriers experienced by large companies. Research from their own UK database, together with the results of a survey by the Institute for Employment Studies identified six main problem areas and made suggestions as to how they could be overcome. Following on from these suggestions some of the problems highlighted by the survey are specific to large multi-sited organisations and the main role of the Large Companies Project is to help address them by offering a range of centralised project, management and advisory support services.

For companies with subsidiaries in a number of different geographical locations, or even different industries, problems mainly arise in trying to apply the standard in a piecemeal, site by site, approach to overall recognition. For example working with a number of different tecs advisors and assessors and introducing problems of consistency etc. However there are also problems in trying to race things through with a single, all encompassing approach where lack of time, human resources and, primarily, on the ground commitment are common issues. The Large Companies Project offers a centralised support and services function especially geared to these issues, and can help with the process and planning to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness for the needs of the company.

By providing information centrally, the Large Companies Project seeks to offer a degree of national unity for UK corporates taking the piecemeal approach to recognition. Training services, assessment and advisory services can be co-ordinated and in addition, the National Network for Large Recognised Employers encourages the sharing of best practice between members.

Implementing IIP across a large diverse organisation is not completely impossible. While the recent recognition of BT PC (Personal Communications) makes only one part of BT plc a recognised Investor in People, it still means the standard has been successfully applied across more than 20,000 workers, spread between 200 main sites and involved in separate businesses including pay phones, operator services and mobile services.

BT PC's personnel director, Bob Mason, notes there was a conscious decision made to gain recognition for the entire organisation rather than in discreet sections. "We're a fairly integrated business," he explains. "We've worked on creating a consistent culture that's focused on putting the customer first.

A customer with a bill enquiry should have as consistent a level of service as someone who's dealing with a payphone."

Mason describes IIP as "a big piece of work to get involved in" which required a good deal of communication between the implementation team of project co-ordinators. These co-ordinators were responsible for introducing IIP into each of the main business units. As well as ensuring the company moved forward as one, best practice could be identified and shared.

Mason notes that such a communication exercise is not an entirely new task for the company: "We grapple with the problem of communication across the business on a daily basis," he says.

Hugh Stirk, Unilever's director of personnel maintains his company had no choice but to encourage IIP to be implemented piecemeal. While Mason can identify common threads between the separate activities of BT PC, Unilever has 50 separate companies in four diverse industries. Stirk notes Unilever's general culture of decentralisation, plus the subsidiaries' own individual histories would make a single initiative anomalous.

"We would actually benefit less from a unified approach," explains Stirk. "It would be difficult for our employees to identify with such a huge business."

Large companies are also helping to push IIP further into the workplace by developing their suppliers. Rover Group now offer learning resources to over 70 suppliers. British Steel's Scunthorpe Works introduced the concept of "contract owners" to raise the performance of contracted workers while Michelin Tyre plc have created performance audits which include contractors supplying catering, cleaning and maintenance services. Some companies may not like the idea of investing resources in external workers, but there is clearly a sound business argument for doing so, especially if success depends on the quality of resources - human and material - coming into the business.

The success of IIP and of the Large Companies Project in particular will lie in convincing executives that the aims of the initiative are business oriented and implementation and assessment key into business priorities rather than detract from them. Certainly Hugh Stirk is convinced of the argument and is very wary of any move to offer financial incentives for companies to take up the programme: "I don't like money being attached to these initiatives because that's not what it's about," he comments. "As a company we've always had a positive attitude to the benefits of education and training."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower