Employee-owned businesses are growing in popularity

Picture: Rob McDougall
Picture: Rob McDougall
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A growing section of the business community is making its mark by focusing on the power of people. Employee ownership has increased by nearly 10 per cent year on year for the last three years, according to recent Employee Ownership Association figures, and employee-owned companies now contribute more than £30 billion annually to the UK economy.

The Employee Ownership Association believes 10 per cent of GDP will be generated by these companies by 2020.

The number of employee-owned companies in the UK is now 164, with 45 of these based in Scotland providing jobs for nearly 2,000 people.

It is a business model that benefits from a range of tax incentives, but more than this it is about closer bonds between employees, a sharing of common goals and sustainable business growth. While the financial benefits are attractive, the model also requires management to foster employee engagement and lead by example.

Companies across the UK marked Employee Ownership Day 2015 on 3 July – a chance for management teams from all businesses to find out more about the proven techniques used by employee-owned firms and consider how they can use them without necessarily committing to full employee ownership.

Employees who have a stake in the business, be it financial, intellectual or emotional, can directly influence its success. At Accord, our employees are involved in deciding and implementing long-term strategy, in determining how profits are distributed and bonuses paid, and can take responsibility for their own personal development. This all helps boost staff loyalty, increase productivity and attract personnel that share the values of the business.

Ultimately the philosophies of employee ownership are about communicating effectively with staff and empowering them to take responsibility for the business.

Companies looking to adopt this way of working benefit from support networks including the Employee Ownership Association and Co-operative Development Scotland, of which I am an ambassador. I can see a revolution on the horizon.

Alan Spence is founder and director of employee-owned hydrocarbon accounting firm Accord Energy Solutions