A standard successfully tested in 32,000 organizations in the United Kingdom is analyzed

December 14, 2010

The Investors in People norm was established in the United Kingdom in the 90s. On detecting the low level of training of employees on the one hand and, on the other, the fact that companies were subsidising their workers for courses which had little to do with the strategy of the company, the government, trade unions and business people in developed a standard. The idea was to harmonise the training received by employees with the strategy of their companies; i.e. avoid things as obvious as a company not working with Germany providing classes in German. It is a generic norm for all those organisations that wish to obtain the certification, setting minimum standards to be observed (training plan, regular meetings between leaders and managers to deliberate on the training to be received by workers, and so on), although these minimum standards are undertaken in practice in a different way in each organisation.

It is currently implemented by 32,000 organisations in the United Kingdom. Being considered highly successful, Jon Segovia analysed the level of adaptability of this model, concluding that is perfectly extrapolative to other countries. His PhD thesis, defended at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), is entitled Investors in People norm: alternatives and possibilities of application through the analysis of experiences in the United Kingdom.

Questionnaire for 198 organisations

The research was based mainly on the results of a questionnaire issued to 198 organisations in the United Kingdom which had the Investors in People certificate. In this questionnaire questions were asked relating to the flexibility of the norm being implemented in organisations of various kinds and sizes, the level of office and administration resources required and its capacity for integration with other norms, amongst other things.

As shown in the thesis, the questionnaires give very positive results in terms of flexibility. For example, as regards the integration with other international norms also seeking standardising amongst organisations, the responses given show that the Investors in People model can exist side by side with others such as ISO 9000 and OSHAS 18000 (on prevention of workplace risks) within the same company, given the low level of office and administration resources required. The responses to the questionnaires also show that the norm is applicable to any organisation or business, independently of its size or of the sector to which it belongs. Nor have sufficiently important cultural signs been observed that would point to the norm only serving for the United Kingdom in this sense.

Thus, Mr Segovia concludes in his research thesis that the Investors in People norm can be extrapolated to any enterprise size, sector or geographical location. It also opens up the possibility of undertaking future research as to why governments of other countries similar to the United Kingdom have not supported the implementation of a model such as Investors in People, or the viability of carrying it out in other countries without the support of the government.
About the author

Mr Jon Segovia de Celaya (Bilbao, 1970) is a Biochemistry graduate from the UPV/EHU, has an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa (IESE) at the University of Navarra, a Masters in Environmental Studies from the Universidad Complutense and is a senior technical officer in Workplace Risks for the Spanish Centre of Financial Studies (CEF). He drew up his thesis under the direction of Mr Ernesto Cilleruelo, Professor of Business Organisation at the Higher Technical School of Engineers in Bilbao (UPV/EHU). Mr Segovia undertook his thesis between Bilbao and Santiago de Chile, where he has been working professionally for the past few years. He is currently partner/director of the renewable energy company, Solarpack.

Elhuyar Fundazioa

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