Corporate ambitions should be aligned with the capabilities of its people, says Simon Perryman, Executive Director, UK Commission for Employment & Skills.

Leading the development of the UK Commission for Employment & Skills (UKCES), and heading up an international strategy for UKCES that has already begun in India, Executive Director Simon Perryman knows more than most about how an exceptional employer should behave.

Sound judgment

Invited to join the first National Business Awards Shortlist Panel as a category specialist, Perryman is a key judge for Croner Employer of the Year in 2011; but what, in his opinion, sets the best employers apart?

“The best employers are those that align their business ambitions and strategies with the capabilities and development of their people,” he explains. “They understand that attracting and retaining talent is key to innovation, outstanding customer care and business success. They support young people in building their skills, they develop the skills of all their staff to the maximum and they know that engaged, involved and committed staff massively over-achieve compared with those who do not feel valued by their organisation."

“They place people and their skills centre-stage, commit to ‘high performance working’ and drive relentlessly for high levels of performance. They use external benchmarks to constantly test themselves against best in class organisations. They tend to be at the top of the Sunday Times list and they know that Investors in People is the professional standard they can rely on to align people practice to the specific business challenges they face.”

But shouldn’t this be the minimum you would expect from an employer? “Many employers believe that personal and professional development are key ingredients for successful business,” adds Perryman. “However, there are also other employers who feel that this is ‘not for them’ or not a priority. In today’s difficult times, it is even more important for us to have real-life stories and hard-edged evidence to show the business benefits that investing in development can deliver and, in my opinion, the National Business Awards represent one of the best vehicles for making this happen.”

Return on Investment in People

There’s nothing more persuasive than Return on Investment, so which development areas will have the greatest impact on financial performance? “In my experience there are two key types of people investment that deliver the biggest impact on profits,” says Simon. “Firstly, it is essential to ensure there is coherence between what employers want their organisation to be ‘known for or famous for’ and how they develop the capabilities of their people to deliver on this."

“Secondly, we know through our work at the Commission that investing in managerial capabilities delivers demonstrable improvements in both organisational and financial performance. This makes sense. The return on investment on training and development that is focused on what manager’s need to do their jobs more effectively can be considerable. Basically, the more empowered and capable your managers are the better they can input to and impact on efficiencies across your organisation.”

So, as a judge for the Croner Employer of the Year Award, what factors will determine the overall winner for him? “What I will be looking for is an employer that has achieved their ambitions for their business by aligning the development of their people with the strategy for the business and investing in improving the capability of their people to deliver on this.”

Simon Perryman will join Peter Whitehead, FT Recruitment & Appointment Editor; Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash; and Andrew Hague, Executive Director of Croner, on the judging panel for the Croner Employer of the Year Award. All winners will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 8th November at the Grosvenor House Hotel. To book your place or reserve a table to call 0207 234 8755, email Anthony.akoto@ubm.com or visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for details.

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