Employee Ownership – The Benefits Explained
Employee Ownership – Is It Right for My Business?
For many companies, no matter what size they are, the employees are the biggest asset and the biggest causes of stress for business owners. Attracting and retaining skilled talent is becoming more and more of a challenge. Yet many very talented people chose to work for smaller companies for less money and a better work/life balance. How do you keep the right people in your business and attract fresh new talent when you can’t compete with big company salaries and benefits? Could Employee Ownership be the exit option for you, your business and your team?
If you employ a team and want to get the most out of them, here’s some ideas.
Getting the Right People in the First Place
How many times have you made the decision to hire someone that you know in your heart of hearts wasn’t right for the business? And how long did it take you to then get rid of them? – or worse, hope they would just leave if you made it awkward enough?
Building something bigger than yourself is impossible without the aid of a supportive and talented team. And it’s more than just skills. It’s about attitude. The attitudes in your company are driven by the leadership team – that usually means YOU. Everything starts with the business owner. You have the business culture you cultivate. If there is a lack of trust, if there is a blame culture – you have to ask yourself, where did that start?
Having a rigorous recruitment process is one step but it must feed into a strategic approach to the culture and roles in the organisation in the first place. What do you need to make sure you will be delivering what customers want and need in the future? Do you need to rethink the skills you have and the skills you are going to need? Remember it’s easier to get someone with a great attitude and train them in the specific skills than it is to get skills and try and change attitudes.
Establish your values, lead the kind of culture you want and build the team on that basis.
If you aren’t sure about your existing team, then a good starting point is to do an audit. What skills, aptitudes and attitudes do you have in your existing team? What are they really great at – what are their strengths? How can you leverage that?
Building the trust and loyalty takes time – and it’s a two-way street. If you don’t trust your employees why should they trust you? One of the reasons some businesses don’t allow working from home is because of a lack of trust. Forced working from home (WFH) has changed the dynamics. More than one of our clients are experiencing higher levels of productivity.
Let’s face it the idea of working from home means different things to different people. For some it’s staying in their pyjamas all day. Many people are struggling with children being at home in the afternoons after school. Having tolerance for the realities of different home environments becomes an accepted part of remote and flexible working. When the focus is on WHAT gets done rather than how, or exactly when then engagement and job satisfaction increases.
It all starts with having a team with the right Attitude and shared values.
People are a lot more productive if they know what they are working towards. Giving them a goal, a deadline and support when they need it, then get out of the way and let them get on with it.
When you get the right people in the business things can really fly.
Get the wrong people and you’re trying to move forward with the handbrake on. Hiring is a challenge in many businesses because it’s not usually well planned and often handled in a hurry. Poor job descriptions, non-existent recruitment processes and interviews handled by staff that have no training all result in bad decisions. Working remotely magnifies poor cultural fits as well as great teams.
Building a world class team takes effort and focus. It’s not something that just happens yet so many people in senior management roles (this isn’t just a small business issue) do not invest the time in developing a team. Yet it pays back in time, energy and profits in the future.
Values and culture come from “what’s acceptable round here” or more importantly “what’s not tolerated here”. This, combined with clearly defined accountability, responsibility and authority, sets the tone of the whole organisation at all levels. Shared values across the whole team lead to self-policing of behaviours within the employees.
Communication is to teams; what cash is to the business – it’s the life blood of performance! There needs to enough of it at the right quality to keep the team going in the right direction and at an appropriate speed. When a team looks good on paper yet doesn’t perform as well as might be expected, it’s usually down to the challenges of different communication styles and methods. This requires trust between the members, the freedom to give adequate feedback and to encourage debate when there are differences of opinion.
It’s the role of leadership to manage and promote creative thinking.
If airing ideas is encouraged, then open communication is likely to generate some interesting opportunities. A culture where everyone gets to have their say is healthier than “being seen but not heard”. As long as this does not end in running the company by committee – as a leader you have the ultimate responsibility for decision making. Make sure that when you delegate decision-making to the people in your organisation, you also invest them with appropriate levels of authority, responsibility and accountability to enable them to perform effectively. Trusting people to make the right decisions, within a framework, allows them to flourish and you to get on with strategic planning and actions. Most people come to work to do a good job – you have to get out of the way and let them!
Feeling Part of Something Bigger
The speed at which any team builds and accepts new members will be dictated by the alignment of goals and the inherent culture of the organisation. If members of the team are not enthusiastically working towards common goals, the whole group will be working less optimally. And it only takes one person to start bringing down the standards of the whole group.
Strong teams self-select those who don’t pull their weight or align with the goals of the majority. It’s one of the reasons why employee owned organisations perform better and grow faster. Where employees feel they are part of something bigger than themselves – and where they understand both their role in the success of the organisation and how they benefit from it’s success – they behave differently.
The truth in the statement “No one care about a business more than the owners” can be easily transferred to everyone in the organisation if they feel they are part of the ownership themselves. How can you make this happen without “giving away” your business?
Employee Ownership comes in many forms. From EMI (Enterprise Management Initiative) schemes where the employees have options on shares triggered by an event or timing. To an EOT (Employee Ownership Trust). In each case there are differing degrees of change of ownership in the shares of the company but in all cases there is a proven improvement of performance in the organisations – as long as the owners lead with an aligned culture.
To find out more:
- watch our webinar where we address the benefits pf Employee Ownership
- For more details on individual employee ownership schemes, click here to down load our white paper “Building Value Through Employee Ownership”
- Read the next article in this series
- Give us a call to find out more about how to take the first steps