Primary purpose

The Investors in People Standard is a business improvement tool designed to advance an organisation’s performance through its employees. It helps organisations to improve performance and realise objectives through the management and development of their people. It has three principles to which an organisation must subscribe and key indicators to work towards. An external assessor will look for evidence that these principles and indicators have been implemented throughout the organisation.


Investors in People (IIP) provides a flexible framework, which any organisation can use. It mirrors the business planning cycle (plan, do, review) making it clear for organisations to follow and implement in their own planning cycle.

The framework is based on three main principles:

  1. Plan – developing strategies to improve the performance of the organisation.
  2. Do – taking action to improve the performance of the organisation.
  3. Review – evaluating the impact of its investment in people on the performance of the organisation. Each principle has clear indicators underpinning them.


  1. A strategy for improving the performance of the organisation is clearly defined and understood.
  2. Learning and development is planned to achieve the organisation’ objectives.
  3. Strategies for managing people are designed to promote equality of opportunity in the development of the organisation’s people.
  4. The capabilities managers need to lead, manage and develop people effectively are clearly defined and understood.


  1. Managers are effective in leading, managing and developing people.
  2. People’s contributions to the organisation are recognised and valued.
  3. People are encouraged to take ownership and responsibility by being involved in decision-making.
  4. People learn and develop effectively.


  1. Investment in people improves the performance of the organisation.
  2. Improvements are continually made to the way people are managed and developed.

Organisations pursuing the Standard prepare their work against these criteria with support from a recognised Investors in People Adviser and guidance from detailed evidence requirements. External assessment is carried out to ensure the organisation has met these principles and underpinning criteria. The organisation can request an assessment at any time once it has decided to work towards the Standard.

Supporting evidence for the assessment is gathered from a range of sources. Evidence may include verbal and observed feedback, for example, through one-to-one interviews with employees or staff appraisal. Once the organisation has been recognised as an ‘Investor in People’ it is subject to regular reviews no more than three years apart. An organisation can be assessed on a more regular basis if it so wishes.

Potential benefits

  • Investors in People is externally validated. It is widely recognised and the Standard acts as an independent stamp of approval for both prospective staff and potential customers.
  • The Standard offers an organisation a method for improving its staff management, employee satisfaction, motivation and access to training and development.
  • The focus on linking employees’ development and skills with an organisation’s overall strategies has the potential to result in gains in overall organisational performance.
  • It can be part of an organisation’s process of improvement over a flexible time frame
  • It dovetails with other tools for measuring impact and assessing quality.
  • The Investors in People Standard is inclusive, involving all people who work for an organisation in any capacity.
  • The Investors in People Standard offers a recognised benchmark of an organisation’s employee management to external bodies as well as making an internal commitment to its staff to continually improve its standards over a long period of time.
  • It is awarded indefinitely, subject to regular reviews no more than three years apart. Within this timeframe, organisations can choose how frequently they wish to be reviewed and informed on what progress has made since the last visit.

Potential limitations

  • Its primary focus is internal quality. It doesn’t seek to directly address an organisation’s wider economic, social and environmental impacts.
  • The Investors in People Standard focuses only on staff improvement and quality.
  • It requires commitment from all employees including senior management and cannot be implemented without their involvement.
  • It has the potential to be costly for some third sector organisations, particularly if substantial changes need to be made following assessment.
  • For an organisation to maintain the IIP mark, a re-accreditation process must be undertaken every three years.

Further sources of information



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