Our new report on employee-owned businesses highlights what it means to work in a business where the employees are the owners. Monique Beaulieu shares some of the insights.
Today think tank Ownership at Work (OAW) and Grant Thornton UK issued a report entitled ‘Redesigning work – employee-owners speak’, exploring employee values at a time when business leaders and employees are asking themselves: what does it mean to be in this together?
The report’s insights are valuable for all businesses interested in building a new employee deal which is adaptable and sustainable as the working environment works its way into the new normal.
What is different about culture in employee-owned businesses?
A sense of ownership is not just about reward; it is clear from this report that employee communication, engagement and transparency are key. A sense of ownership in an employee-owned business model comes from a collaborative culture where leaders are accessible and accountability is collectively shared.
Any business owner will expect to see the numbers, and sharing financial information with employees has been a game-changer for many of the participating employee-owned businesses. Contrary to typical assumptions, employees who feel like owners can be exceptionally resilient in the face of challenging performance. Being transparent around results, whether good or bad, fosters accountability, alleviates concern around uncertainty and excites employees about growing the value of their business.
It is clear that employee-owned businesses put their people first, but their employees still recognise they are part of a business with commercial objectives. In uncertain times, common sense tells us that cultures that foster a strong duty of care between colleagues should be more resilient. It will be interesting to see if this bears out in the coming months.
What can business leaders do to offer employees a new deal?
I have worked with employee-owned business for several years and structured many transitions into employee ownership, but I would be the first to acknowledge that a simple change of ownership will not in itself change the business culture.
Employee ‘ownership’ has several dimensions, and it is open to the employees and leaders of any business to make changes that increase employees’ share and say in the future of their business. In their own words in this report, employees highlight the changes that have made the most difference to them.
To find out more about what distinguishes employee-owned business cultures and how your business could benefit, contact Monique Beaulieu.