We are more than just a Resource...



“People care for each other and you’re not just a number.”


These words “you’re not just a number,” resonated and haunted my thoughts.

When I first became interested in employee ownership, it was all about numbers! The numbers made sense and selling to your employees in most cases trumped selling on the open market. As I’ve become more involved with employee ownership it has become less about numbers and more about real people and how their dynamism makes companies what they are today. Lately I find myself a keen exponent of employee ownership, an area of corporate finance that has become a lot more than just a vocation.


We are more than just a resource


“If some of these big PLCs had actually thought about their people not just as commodities, then they would probably get more loyalty and success”


Recently ‘Ownership at Work’ released a fascinating report entitled ‘Redesigning Work’. The author, Stefan Stern, interviewed workers (employee owners) from four established employee owned businesses: Childbase, Community Dental Services, Gripple and Union Industries. The anonymised comments made by these workers offer a reassuring insight into everyday life at employee owned companies from a grassroots level.


“We are working harder than we have ever worked.”


It’s claimed that employee owned businesses are more successful and numbers are growing at an annual rate of 10%. Industry bodies claim that co-owned companies tend to be more successful, competitive, profitable and 7% more productive, but does it all sound too good to be true?


“A manager who sits in the office all day is never going to do well with their team here.”


‘Redesigning Work’ examines employee ownership as seen through the eyes of employee owners and provides evidence of changing behaviours when employees are given a stake in their company.


“The MD knows everyone’s name and something about them”


The familiar teacher’s cry “it’s your own time you’re wasting” for once rings true. Employee owners care, they care about each other, they care about the customer and they care about performance and results. When employees are owners, they participate in the tough decisions and they are not just part of the audience.

In the report Deborah Mattinson, of BritainThinks says there is a “remarkable fit between how EO firms work and the kind of changes post-pandemic business will desperately need. Clearly work feels different when you have skin in the game.”


“But this is our company, so we want to be the best!”


Employee ownership offers a unique opportunity for employees to be involved with improving sales and the effective management of costs and a powerful consensus can be built.


“The results that we get here and in the whole group, they speak for themselves. The growth, the money, the turnover, the profits, and it’s shared amongst everybody.”


Many of us have suffered in previous working lives and can be forgiven for getting a little emotional because of some of the comments made in this report.


“I’ve been here for 11 years and don’t want to leave, no interest in leaving whatsoever. I’m really happy here,”


“Here you aren’t frightened to fail. You won’t get into trouble. It makes you more innovative.”


“We are profit driven but not to anyone’s detriment. We just care more for people.”


As the Author Stefan Sterns concludes, perhaps “…the answer to the UK’s chronic productivity problems may be staring us in the face…”


Source: EOA, Ownership at Work, Redesigning Work by Stafan Stern.

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