How IES works

The Institute is funded by assignments for organisations in the private and public sectors who commission research and consultancy, or join our HR Network. Foundations also fund specific pieces of research. We have a turnover of around £3m and receive no long-term grants or subsidies.

The majority of our funding comes via commissioned project work, derived from the private and the public sectors, from research councils and foundations in the UK and abroad.

Our research approach can include case studies, in-depth interviews, discussion groups, large-scale quantitative and qualitative surveys of individuals and organisations (by telephone, post, and face to face), literature research, statistical analysis and modelling. We produce evaluations, recommendations, guidance and reports.

Our consultancy work draws from our research expertise. We undertake specific assignments and work with clients' internal project teams, to advise, coach and train, transferring knowledge and expertise into employing organisations.

A priority is to disseminate research findings, which we do through reports and summaries, articles, press coverage, seminars and conferences.

IES is accredited by Investors in People, and maintains the ISO 9001:2008 standard.

In more detail ...

Several key principles underlie the operation of IES:

Independence and dissemination

The purpose of IES, set out in its mission, is to help bring about sustainable improvements in employment policy and human resource management. It does this through its research and consultancy work, by increasing the understanding and improving the practice of key decision-makers in public policy bodies and in employing organisations in the private and public sectors. Crucial to the Institute’s mission, and underpinning its charitable status, is that it should inform not simply those who directly commission our research and consultancy, but also the wider community of policy- and decision-makers. This provides the Institute with a strong motivation to publish and disseminate the findings of its work.


IES aims to deploy a wide range of expertise in its work, approaching problems from different disciplinary perspectives and, where appropriate, combining those perspectives in its research and consultancy projects. IES has around 40 staff including professional researchers and consultants, among whom are economists, econometricians, statisticians, sociologists, management scientists, geographers and occupational psychologists. In addition, we work with an extensive network of individual associates and partner organisations, enabling us to bring a further range of specialist expertise to individual projects as required.

IES sets great store by the independence and rigour of its work. It aims to ensure that its staff deploy appropriate and state-of-the-art methodologies to its research and consultancy assignments, and it invests in staff training and development to support this. It also upholds high standards of research ethics in the conduct of all its research.

A dual focus on public policy and employers

Although IES has evolved and developed considerably since its founding in the 1960s, a unique and constant feature of the Institute has been its dual focus on work for public policymakers on the one hand and employers on the other. This stems from a recognition that the employment policies of the state and its agencies, and the HR policies and practices of employers are two sides of the same coin, and that to meet its mission, IES must pursue a balanced portfolio of work for both sides.

Our public policy research and evaluation informs policymakers not only within the UK, but also at international level, while our HR work with and for employers falls under two broad headings:

  • project work for employers or employer organisations, which is a mixture of research and consultancy/advice;
  • our corporate membership programme, the IES HR Network, which brings employers together to learn from and contribute to the evidence base on HR policy and practice.

Read more on our extensive range of research on different themes, many of which are relevant to both our public policy work and our employer work.