Beyond the lockdown: could an employee ownership stake play a key role in your company’s future?
We’ve created this page for anyone interested in building a stronger bond with their employees, either as part of a plan for business recovery as the lockdown eases or more immediately.
An employee stake in the business can be created in a range of different ways. At the bottom of this page you’ll find links to explanations of the two main alternatives.
A short thought piece follows. But if you’d simply find it useful to have a chat about the role an employee stake could play in your business, please just feel free to skip it and contact us directly.
Firefighting only or thinking ahead?
For many businesses, their priority right now is retaining short term viability and living day by day. Thinking any longer term is like browsing an agricultural seed catalogue in the middle of a locust invasion.
Or is it?
Businesses prioritising long term reputation over short term gain are already looking more popular with consumers. Time will tell whether those currently seen as the heroes are rewarded and the villains punished (memories can be short).
In the business workplace, we think the case for longer term thinking is powerful. Few have entirely escaped the ravages of the lockdown, a great many having furloughed employees, made pay cuts or in some cases redundancies. Nobody – owners, leaders or employees – wants to be in this position. It is deeply stressful for everyone.
We believe that the businesses to emerge strongest will include those who’ve thought the most carefully about how to balance preserving cash with looking after their employees. It has never been more true to say: Look after your people and they will look after you.
We’ve already seen many examples of employee-owned companies putting this approach first and central, although we believe the same to be true of any well-led organisation. They are rightly already thinking about the future and looking at the seed catalogue
A new deal for loyal and committed employees?
If you’re thinking about the longer term in your business, this might include a reflection on the future relationship with your employees. Will there be a simple resumption of normal business or should that relationship be recast, reflecting the sacrifice made by many employees, their resourcefulness in helping keep the show on the road and how key they are to your business’s future? Will the experience shed a powerful new light on how everyone involved in a business shares a common interest in its success?
For any business answering “yes”, even tentatively, the coming months may be the right time to consider whether an employee ownership stake should be part of the future. It isn’t a universal solution and certainly won’t be right for all businesses, but for many it could be the foundation for a renewed and shared purpose between current owners, leaders and employees.
More immediately and specifically:
- if you’re contemplating (or have made) pay reductions, could you offer affected employees a share in any upside as your business recovers?
- if you’re applying for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, along with the usual cash flow, P&L and balance sheets banks would want to see some forward planning – and ensuring long term employee reward and commitment may be an important part of this.
If you’d like further information about employee share schemes (ways in which some or all employees can acquire an ownership stake, without current owners giving up control), please click here. To learn about going a significant step further and creating employee ownership (normally involving a majority of a business becoming employee-owned, often through an employee ownership trust), please click here.