Over the course of this blog series we have presented our organisational values, looking at how they apply to the research industry and thinking about how they are lived at IFF.
Last week we looked at the importance of people in the provision of research, and prior to that we discussed how impartially and integrity must remain at the forefront of thinking in the industry. This week we discuss what we believe lies at the heart of industry’s existence, the provision of answers that have impact, inspire change and truly make a difference.
How research makes a difference
We want our research to make a difference, whether this be results influencing government policy or companies making key strategic investment decisions based on the robust, reliable insight we provide. Even where findings confirm the current ‘direction of travel’, our results can ensure decisions and policy are justified by the evidence.
Neil Armstrong summed it up well when he said “Research is creating new knowledge”. In predicting, informing and influencing the future, research enables firms and policy makers to manage uncertainty and take informed next steps.
The influence of research
One area in which our work and the work of others in our industry has a clear influence is in policy development. Evidence is a vital component in the decision making process for Government especially where value for money needs to be proven: findings from research can justify investments in areas such as regulatory reform or changes to the benefits system. We provide some examples of how IFF’s work has made a difference below:
Apprenticeship and training levies
Over the last year we have been involved in a number of projects that have helped shape levy policy. A soon-to-be published report for BEIS/DfE has examined how medium and large employers plan to respond to the imminent apprenticeship levy (coming into effect in 2017), and has fed in to its still on-going development. Similarly, research for CITB assessing employer views on the likely impact of the apprenticeship levy alongside the existing CITB levy have been used in the organisation’s response to government highlighting the potential impact for the construction sector. These findings help provide the confidence necessary to implement changes and minimise risk.
Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination
Our study into Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, involving over 3,000 interviews with recent mothers, and showing high proportions feeling poorly treated by their employer during pregnancy or whole on maternity leave, has led to calls for change in employer attitudes and behaviour, and more directly led to EHRC launching #PowertotheBump, a digital campaign to help young expectant and new mothers know their rights at work and have the confidence to stand up for them.
This type of research highlights issues that could otherwise go unnoticed and supports the case for change.
Research can also be crucial for businesses, and enables them to take informed ‘leaps of faith’ towards new markets, new products or to inform strategy. This is often the difference between success and failure, and we are always looking at new ways in which we can assist these types of organisations in planning for the future.
One offer we have developed in this area is our Business Omnibus. This ongoing survey of businesses helps those working in the B2B space and gives companies the opportunity to get the views and opinions of UK business owners. This gives businesses unprecedented access to their core customers and again enables intelligence-led decision making.
Anything that influences decision making impacts the world around us, but in our view it takes an independent outlook, integrity, motivated, skilled staff and an ambition to influence positive change and really make a difference.