Belfast-based Neill’s Flour has become the first mill in Northern Ireland to receive the Investor in People Standard, joining over 38,000 organisations in the UK that have committed to setting a level of good practice for improving business performance through their people.

Neill’s Flour employs 40 staff at its College Place North mill and is the market leader in Northern Ireland with a share of about 49% of the retail pack market. The company mills all types of flour, with products including Self Raising Flour, Golden Fleece Plain Four, Self Raising Soda Bread Flour, Fine, Medium and Coarse Wholemeal Flour.

The Investors in People Standard provides a framework for improving business performance and competitiveness through good practice in human resource development. Neill’s has achieved the Standard by adopting and maintaining its three fundamental principles: the planning, implementing and reviewing of strategies developed to improve performance.

To achieve this, the company has had to involve all employees in developing the business plan. "In this way, they will more readily implement the changes required to move the business forward and provide benchmark levels of safety, quality, customer service and efficiency," says Peter Henry, Neill’s Flour general manager.

The standard also required the company to train, develop and measure the effectiveness of its employee training. This has been demonstrated through annual performance reviews, skills and training plans and by introducing a balanced scorecard. "This has given the site a base to consolidate the changes in the past year and look forward to the future," says Henry.

Ruth Spellman, chief executive of Investors in People UK, adds: "We are delighted that Neill’s Flour has been awarded the Investor in People Standard. We believe that employees are central to any organisation’s success and it is vital for staff to be skilled, flexible and motivated. This can be achieved though properly planned training and sustained people development."

Key findings from an Investor in People impact assessment study revealed that changes made by Investors in People organisations in the three years prior to the study, increased profit by 7.16% of sales, or £505 per employee per year. This compares to changes made by non-recognised organisations, which increased profits by 3.78% of sales or £197 per employee per year, equating to a profit gap of £353 per employee per year between recognised and non-recognised organisations. n