Colin Smith Assistant Director of Organisational Development led Inspire through its most recent Investors in People assessment, where we were awarded the Gold standard. Here, Colin shares his thoughts on the assessment process and the importance of establishing a great workplace culture.

Organisational culture essential in finding and keeping talented people

People Management recently argued that the war for talent will be won by culture over salary, citing a study by Workbuzz that found 45% of employees and business leaders rank a great culture as the most important factor when looking for a new job. Having just retained our Investors in People Gold standard, I’d argue that developing a fantastic organisational culture is vital in retaining talent too.

Why do Investors in People?

Simon Sinek, the American author and speaker encourages us to think more about why we do what we do – once we understand ‘the why’, ‘the how’ and ‘the what’ make more sense. So, abiding by the advice of the incredible Simon Sinek, I’ll explain why IIP is important to us.
As an organisational development professional, the why is easy – we want to have the best possible culture in Inspire. We want our staff to have a workplace experience that supports and develops them and enriches their lives and the lives of the people we support. Investors in People provides

  • a framework for doing this
  • a regular benchmarked assessment
  • insightful suggestions to continuously improve and
  • support and guidance from our wonderful assessor Stephanie McCutcheon

Show me an OD person who wouldn’t want an independent health check on their organisation’s culture every 3 years and a list of suggested actions to build into their ongoing strategic plans.

Approaching the Investors in People assessment

As for how we approach Investors in People, I think Inspire has its own way of doing this.

This was brought home to me when I asked for any suggestions from Stephanie about how we could improve the way we engaged with staff, specifically asking if other organisations do it better than us? The answer was that our approach was a ‘Rolls Royce’, no better indicator of quality.

I can’t take the credit for developing this approach, it is one that has been developed over time and with the input of many dedicated people. Our approach has always been one of maximising engagement and collaboration. Actually, in my experience, the very act of preparing for the assessment is one of the best engagement activities you can do as an organisation.

Achieving Investors in People Gold

Finally, what do we do to achieve IIP Gold? We do a number of things.
First of all, we develop a strong communication plan around the whole process, ensuring people are well informed and encouraged to get involved.
We host a series of open workshops. We invite everyone and use these events to share information about Investors in People and facilitate discussions around the 9 themes.

This year we hosted the workshops on MS Teams and used Mentimeter to capture participants’ thoughts and ideas. This maximises involvement in the process and gives people a voice to share experiences of leading, supporting and improving. It is amazing how often we found golden nuggets about what is going on at a local level around our diverse organisation.

Next, we host a series of roadshows, visiting the people who’ll meet with our assessor. We share information about Investors in People and the assessment process, to ensure people can find the location for the day of their interview, to put them at ease before the assessment meeting and to answer any questions that they might have. Our key message to people is that they are telling their own story about their experience of working with Inspire.

Finally, members of the human resources and organisational development teams host each of the assessment days. Having a link person in place for each day is crucial for helping to facilitate the meetings and deal with any issues that might arise on the day. It is also another fabulous opportunity to build relationships with Stephanie and the staff at the various locations.

How did we do?

So how did we do in 2022? Happily, we achieved the ‘we invest in people Gold’ standard again this year. But this doesn’t really tell the whole story.
The assessment showed progress made in every one of the 9 indicators with 6 of the 27 themes being assessed at a higher level than was the case in 2019, making demonstrable progress in

  • Adopting the values
  • Designing roles
  • Enabling collaborative working
  • Creating transparency and trust
  • Developing leadership capability and
  • Adopting a culture of recognition

In addition, our benchmark score went up by 31 points. This all sounds very technical, so it is maybe better articulated using some of the feedback provided by our assessor. This is what she had to say:

  • You have dedicated and talented staff that work extremely hard to deliver high quality provision across a wide range of services.
  • Your staffing complement comprises a rich community of professions, experiences and backgrounds.
  • People display a high level of dedication to their work, feel empowered to carry out their roles and want to do a good job.
  • Efforts are made to get the best out of people by providing effective and clear structures within which they can operate, and they are provided with the skills and knowledge to do this.
  • Success continues to rest on the knowledge, skills and expertise of your people.
  • People are proud of what has been collectively achieved through a period of great uncertainty and significant challenge.

This is such an encouraging summary of the progress made over the last 3 years through the lens of this assessment process, and it is a positive reflection of the dedication of every member of the Inspire team to making this a great place to work.

So, if the war on talent is going to be won by culture, then our focus on culture in Inspire is the right approach, and one that I am hugely proud to be a part of.