Not all co-operative social enterprises are employee-owned. Some are owned by ‘consumers’ of a service or there can be multi-stakeholder owned and governed enterprises where employees have a seat at the board table.

For Workshoppers needing a crash course in employee-ownership this clip is a good primer. It features the head of Employee Ownership Australia, Angela Perry, interviewing UK authority on employee ownership. Graeme Nuttall.

Summary

In this clip, barriers for employee-ownership success are identified:
• Lack of awareness of employee ownership as a concept
• Lack of resources to support it
• Complexity – or a perception of complexity.

Key ingredients for employee ownership success are also outlined:
• Financial participation in the broadest sense at an individual level – an employee gets something out of the employee ownership model that they wouldn’t get in another business model including
– job security
– prospect of deferred financial reward
• Individual voice – engagement – a say in how the business is run
• Collective voice – as a group a meaningful stake in the business and a real sense of direction in the business.

Also employee-owned business features a sense of purpose and ethos – fairness in pay in rewards and contribution to community.

People concerned with employee engagement can ironically ignore employee ownership business models and those who advocate for employee ownership can get too concerned with legal form.

Succession planning – employee ownership can be a neat succession solution – it needs to be offered as an alternative among others. Business owners can choose the timing when considering this.

Rescue situations – employee ownership can be an option. Often the employees themselves know if a business can be viable and sometimes redundancy pay can be utilised.

Increased productivity and driving innovation is connected to employee ownership; and it can be strongest in companies when there are less than 75 employees. Small-to-medium enterprises as well as start-ups can benefit from employee-ownership, and governments should consider employee-ownership as a part of the policy mix.