Following its launch in 1991, Investors In People (IIP) quickly established itself as one of the key kite marks organisations should obtain. Some NHS Trusts successfully applied for IIP accreditation early on. But just as others were beginning to consider taking this step, Improving Working Lives (IWL) entered our consciousness in the NHS.
IWL was broader than “learning & development” and it quickly become one of the key HR initiatives of the naughties. As I worked towards my first maternity leave in 2005, I successfully lead my Trust through their Practice Plus assessment. But six months later, IWL was on its decline.
Time has moved on, and IWL is now a mere memory: staff engagement is what everybody is talking about in the NHS (although a bit hampered by the impact of the White Paper and major cost-savings programme).
And whilst this has all been going on, IIP appears to have re-invented itself. Nowadays organisations can achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold standards, based on an assessment of a range of other criteria such as the people /business strategy, reward and recognition, and yes, staff engagement.
In terms of the IIP assessment, staff are no longer subjected to focus groups, but instead are asked complete an on-line survey, The results are presented in a spider-web graph that can be viewed on-line.
Some of the IIP questions are similar to the national NHS staff survey and the responses can be compared for similarities and differences. Interestingly, sometimes the IIP outcomes are different from what the staff survey tells us.
And whilst every HR practitioner understands the value of the feedback gained from an IIP assessment, does having this kite mark make any difference?
I was involved in an interesting debate recently with an IIP assessor on this very topic. IIP can be an invaluable Recruitment & Retention tool. However, do the general public understand what it is or what it entails? And in particular - what the Gold, Silver and Bronze standards represent? Probably not.
So, I don’t think IIP has passed its sell-by date. And overall, I like what IIP has done is make itself relevant: it is still a kite mark worth achieving. But I don’t think that it has promoted its changes sufficiently enough to carry the weight that it deserves. Greater promotion will not only benefit IIP, but those organisations who invest time in applying for accredition.
Finally, congratulations to Kings College Hospital, London for being the first acute Trust in the country to achieve Gold Standard.