People are the one asset every organization has, and the only asset which can make or break a business. In fact it is now more widely acknowledged that the best way to become a successful business is to have a successful workforce.
By successful, we mean happy, fulfilled and valued enough to stay in their jobs and achieve success. Too often viewed as an expendable, easily renewable commodity in the past, workers are increasingly appreciated for being valuable contributors to a thriving business.
Yet despite this increased investment in people and acknowledgement of the importance of not only recruiting but retaining the right staff, even those organizations actively striving for excellence can experience a disconnect.
Sometimes both employers and employees can be dissatisfied and see the other as problematic, exploitative or otherwise unfair.
A sense of being valued
Studies have proved that strong relationships between organizations and the people who work within them are built on a sense of being valued. This is a two-way relationship: if a business values its people, recognizing individual capabilities and potential, those people are much more likely to value the employing organization, remaining loyal, productive and invested in its success.
The UK’s national standards body, BSI, has worked with industry experts, academics and organizations such as CIPD and the University Forum for HR Directors, to create a new British Standard which addresses this challenge, and provides a tool for organizations to build a framework for continuous improvement.
Introducing BS 76000
Published this summer, BS 76000 Human resource – Valuing people - Management system – requirements and guidance, is a principles-based standard which acknowledges that people are inherently valuable and need to be considered at a strategic rather than just operational level.
As with the development of all British Standards, this consensus-based, collaborative approach came about in response to a societal need.
Anne Hayes, Head of Market Development for Governance at BSI, describes BS 76000 as, “an over-arching management system standard that helps organizations to assess what they already have in place and address any gaps. It is the chance for those organizations which already demonstrate good practice to achieve recognition and gives those which are committed to improving, a framework to build upon.”
The aims of BS 76000
The standard aims to examine the employer-employee relationship and to move it away from an old-fashioned master-servant type of relationship, to something which benefits both parties in the long-term. Therefore it is vital that people are considered at the highest level in the same way that other key elements are (profit, top-level innovation in products or services, for example), rather than simply subjecting them to processes carried out in the HR department.
BS 76000 centres on the importance of leadership because all too often the relationship between company and employee has been driven by the HR department alone.
There is often too little consideration given to the importance of recruiting, retaining and fully developing a workforce which really benefits the organization and helps it to achieve long-term goals. Instead, the organization depends on chance and too-rigid procedure: recruiting the best fit for a role from a pool of people who happen to apply at a given moment, rather than seeking out people with long-term potential for the organization as a whole; forcing individuals to fit into pre-determined skill sets rather than recognizing and utilizing the potential or actual abilities a person has and shaping the role accordingly; allowing talented employees to leave the organization because the current set-up does not allow their personal development or job satisfaction
Whether a large corporation or a small family business, the principle objective – be it financial success or excellent delivery of service – has historically overridden all other considerations at leadership level. Where people were seen as a necessary evil rather than the best means of success.
This view is shared by Jim Newell, Human Resources Director at BSI, for whom BS 76000 is, “not just a framework that the ‘operators’ within the business should follow but an essential piece of guidance that the leadership should be using to understand their employees.”
The standard provides requirements which can be used to benchmark progress and help an organization to put in a system which will ultimately help it retain, develop and get the most out of the people who work on its behalf by ensuring that each one is appreciated. Some of the core principles of BS 7600 are:
- The interests of staff and other stakeholders are integral to the best interests of an organization
- The organization is part of wider society and has a responsibility to operate in a fair and socially responsible manner
- Commitment to valuing people should come from the most senior leaders of an organization
- People working on behalf of the organization have intrinsic value
- Each principle is of equal importance
The benefits of using a standard such as this are clear for employees: reassurance that each individual is viewed as valuable, a sense of empowerment, feeling part of the larger whole and being able to influence and participate in the development of policies.
What’s in it for the organizations who choose to implement BS 76000?
Newell refers to the standard as a tool which can enable businesses to regard their investment in employees as a “core business differentiator alongside investment in other strategic factors such as products and technology.”
So, in conclusion, this is a win-win for both employee and employer, in businesses of all sizes and sectors. The matter of people is a global one and as such provision was made when developing this standard. According to Hayes, “a core text and structure that aligns to ISO standards means that this standard can be taken forward to other countries once it reaches maturity.”
Ultimately, replicating the model globally to make organizations aware of ‘people’-value can only lead to winning respect, retaining the best talent and standing out from the crowd.