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Employee ownership: How to get started

Sam Dowling

 We’ve seen a huge increase in people’s understanding of employee ownership in recent months.  I wish we could say it was purely down to the work of the EOA (as Director of Communications for the Association it would be a big win for me if that were the case!), but I suspect it is as much a sign of the times.  However, the creation of a National day of Employee Ownership (launched this year on 4th July) is a fantastic boost to wider awareness and understanding of the model.

Businesses and workers are more conscious than ever of the need to be sustainable for the long term. To future-proof themselves and their organisations; and to think about the legacy of their actions, and of their companies.

Employee ownership is the perfect way to lock in stability and sustainability, reward and recognition. It gives increased staff engagement, and improved productivity and growth. So why isn’t every company employee-owned?

From the global infrastructure provided by Mott MacDonald, to the agriculture and leisure products of Galloway and MacLeod, through to the chemicals of Scott Bader, the paper and packaging of Tullis Russell, the precision engineering of Gripple, the brilliant cash and carry operations of Parfetts, the advanced textiles of Scott and Fyfe, the world-leading blades and scalpels of Swann Morton and the project and programme powerhouse that is CH2M Hill, employee ownership is leading the way on economic growth.

Graeme Nuttall’s Review last year concluded that there is a perception that employee ownership is a complex, opaque way of working that only the very large can manage. But at its heart, employee ownership is about working with your colleagues for a common goal. Recognising that if you all succeed then you all benefit. And that applies just as much to a small or medium company as a large one. And just as much to one that makes things as it does to one that provides a service.

This month’s first official Employee Ownership Day has enhanced awareness of this important part of our economy. A model that already contributes more than £30 billion each year to UK GDP, and that we at the EOA want to see contribute 10% of GDP by 2020.

We’ve just published a report on How to Get Started. And we’re here to help. This could truly be the decade of employee ownership.

Sam Dowling is Director of Communications for the Employee Ownership Association

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