Engaging Employees Through Innovative Approaches to Governance

11/12/15 - 15112301 - SCOTTISH ENTERPRISEGLASGOWSarah Deas

Scottish Enterprise director Sarah Deas discusses how boosting employee engagement can help drive business success.

When a business changes ownership, major changes can sometimes be expected.  The new owners may want to do things differently and fresh insight combined with new ambitions and goals can lead to significant restructure within a company. This can present a great opportunity to assess how well the company functions and drive changes that can lead to a more effective and efficient operation.

A good example of this is market-leading search and selection firm, Saxton Bampfylde, which undertook a radical shift when it switched to an employee ownership model. We spoke to Peta Hay, the managing director for Scotland, about the company’s experiences since.

“The traditional ways of making decisions and exercising authority didn’t fit with who we are as a business.  Now we’re owned by our employees, everyone has a right and an interest in how the business is governed and led. That had to be reflected in our governance framework.”

Peta Hay

Peta Hay, managing director for Saxton Bampfylde in Scotland

The company’s shares are held in an Employee Ownership Trust; a shareholding vehicle designed specifically for employee-owned firms.  The employees are effectively the beneficiaries of that trust and the trust becomes the major shareholder in the business.  This Trust is controlled by Trustees, and three of these Trustees are elected by the employees.  The company’s Board appoints the rest of the Trustees.

Another business that has embraced employee ownership is award-winning architecture practice Page\Park, which transitioned from a traditional partnership model to an employee ownership one in 2014. Since then, the company has recruited twelve new staff. We spoke to Karen Pickering, chair of Page\Park’s Board of Directors, for some insight into how the model has rejuvenated the business.

FREE FIRST USE Lenny Warren / Warren Media 07860 830050  01355 229700 lenny@warrenmedia.co.uk www.warrenmedia.co.uk All images © Warren Media 2016. Free first use only for editorial in connection with the commissioning client's press-released story. All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission.

Scottish Enterprise director Sarah Deas (centre) with Andrew Bateman, managing director, and Karen Pickering, chair of the board of directors, at Page\Park

“Sustainability is a key feature of our architecture and that sustainability is what we wanted to replicate in our business model.  I believe we have. Our model has allowed our people to exercise their creativity and we are seeing greater innovation that is being driven by the team as a whole rather than coming from the top down.  Our employees are real owners and that brings with it greater engagement, productivity and energy.”

It is clear that there is no universal solution when it comes to good governance, and the key lies in implementing what works best for the specific needs of an individual business. However, something that all businesses should get on board with is the practice of periodically reviewing the company’s structure to ensure that the existing model is the most beneficial to the business and its employees.

Getting this right is integral to enhancing engagement among employees and harnessing their collective talents, a strong foundation from which a business can build lasting success.

If you would like more information on how you can improve employee engagement within your organisation, Scottish Enterprise will be running the below free events. To book your place, register here or call 0300 013 3385. Alternatively, give us a call and we can arrange a chat with one of our expert advisors.

SE Events table 2

Click to expand

 

 

 

Sarah Deas discusses EO Day 2016

Today (1 July) is EO Day (Employee Ownership Day) and with 16,000 employers in Scotland looking to transfer ownership in the next five years, we’re urging business owners to explore employee ownership as a viable succession route.

Throughout Scotland’s business community, the benefits of employee ownership (EO) as a driver for growth are becoming increasingly recognised.  EO can be implemented not just as a succession solution for long-term stability, but as a catalyst for sustainable business growth.

The advantages of employee ownership have been proven in Employee Ownership Association-led research, and include improving employee health and wellbeing, increasing productivity and fostering creativity and innovation across an array of industry sectors.

By having a stake in the business, employees have a vested interest in increasing productivity and driving innovation.  This sense of ownership leads to employees being more willing to contribute ideas, from developing new products to identifying new markets.

Many employee owned businesses in Scotland chose to sell to an employee ownership trust with the vendors being paid the value of their business from current and future earnings.  That way business owners receive a fair price for the company and employees don’t have to dig deep into their own pockets.

Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) can help you decide on the best model of employee ownership for your business.

One of the organisations that sought the support of CDS during its transition to employee ownership is Black Light Ltd. The company, which specialises in lighting, staging, sound and audio visual solutions, became fully employee owned just last month (June 2016) and in this blog for Scottish Enterprise, its founder Gavin Stewart explains the process and his experiences.

Gavin also kindly gave up his time today to join us in a live, interactive webinar to discuss Black Light’s journey to EO. If you missed the out on this the full recording will soon be available on the Scottish Enterprise website.

Today, another employee owned Scottish business is also celebrating success. Computer Application Services (CAS) has achieved the silver ‘Investors in People’ award in recognition of its excellent team engagement and management practice.  Ken Naismith, CAS chief executive, believes this success is down to its talented and motivated workforce who are highly engaged in the business thanks to its EO model. You can read more about this fantastic accolade on the CAS website.

The number of employee-owned firms based in Scotland has doubled in the past six years and this growth is forecast to accelerate.  Currently there are 78 employee-owned businesses operating in Scotland, with approximately 6,500 employees and a combined turnover of around £900million.

Our aspiration is to achieve a tenfold increase in employee ownership in Scotland over a ten year period.

If you would like more information about employee ownership and how it could potentially benefit your business, please do get in touch and our expert advisers will be happy to chat with you.

Collaborating to create a literature hub for Scotland with Edinburgh’s Netherbow

One of five winners of the Collaboration Prize, Edinburgh’s Netherbow aims to create a literature hub for Scotland on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Founded by an alliance of six cultural organisations, it will achieve this by developing the existing honeycomb of buildings, gardens, closes and streetscapes in and around the Scottish Storytelling Centre and John Knox House to create a physical presence for Edinburgh’s literature and Scotland’s culture.

Its role will be to increase the promotion of literature, support collaboration between literary and cultural organisations and improve Edinburgh’s international profile.

Here, founding member, Ali Bowden, director of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, explains how they developed their idea, what the next steps are for the consortium and how they will benefit from winning the Collaboration Prize.

The literary sector has a strong track record regarding collaboration – it was how we secured the UNESCO City of Literature status for Edinburgh in 2004. As such, the various partners of Edinburgh’s Netherbow have worked together over the years on a number of projects, and the opportunity to develop the area is something that has recently evolved through those discussions and partnerships.

Our plan is to create a new, highly visible, focal point for Edinburgh’s literature and Scotland’s culture, resulting in the provision of a comprehensive information, education and interpretation centre for the City of Literature.

By working together, Edinburgh Netherbow’s members (which include the City of Literature Trust, Sandeman House, TRACS, Scottish Book Trust, the Saltire Society and The List) can promote literature, support further collaboration between literary and cultural organisations and help grow the capital’s international profile through engagement in literature.

Winning the Collaboration Prize will definitely enable us to take our partnership to the next stage. By providing the perfect combination of cash and business expertise it will give us the support we need at this critical point in the project’s development.

We are working on various aspects of the project at present but the next key step will be creating a detailed business plan and that work will be supported by Scottish Enterprise.

For more information about the Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize visit the website.

Click here if you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch.

Collaboration Prize winner ArchBlue Ltd set to bring history to life

One of the winners of the Collaboration Prize, ArchBlue Ltd aims to provide an integrated service that will support site managers with the stewardship of historic buildings, structures, landscapes and archaeological sites.

Founded by five organisations involved in providing complementary services to the heritage sector, the consortium provides a wide range of services including 3D measuring and modelling, archaeological recording and visualisation, conservation planning and 3D printing.

Combined, these services provide customers with a comprehensive approach to heritage site management as well as engaging methods of communicating a site’s story to the public.

 Here, founding member John McCreadie explains how they developed their idea, what the next steps are for the consortium and how they will benefit from winning the Collaboration Prize.

In our industry, changes in technology have altered and very much widened our clients’ expectations. None of us, as individual companies, could fulfil these changed expectations without expanding our skill sets.  It seemed an obvious solution to collaborate with companies who already had the necessary expertise.

The Collaboration Prize gave us the impetus to formalise what has been an informal, ad-hoc working relationship between a number of companies. These include my own 3D measuring and modelling business, Addyman Archaeology, Simpson and Brown consulting, Gilbert’s 3D printing services and freelance archaeological visualisation specialist, Dr Alice Watterson.

We knew we had a good story to tell.  We were convinced that by working together we could better meet our clients’ needs and felt that a formal collaboration, with a clear identity and well defined service offering would be the best vehicle for moving forward.

Winning the Collaboration Prize will help us to establish a brand identity for ArchBlue Ltd and market its services to potential customers. We believe the collaborative approach will add strength to tender submissions and allow us to bid for projects we wouldn’t necessarily have the ability to pursue as individual businesses.

Our offering is also well suited to the overseas market where heritage assets such as churches, castles and archaeological site play a major role in driving tourism, as they do here in Scotland.

Our next steps will be to work with Co-operative Development Scotland to formalise our collaboration and to develop our brand identity and marketing platforms to highlight our strengths and unique integrated approach.

For more information about the Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize visit the website.

Click here if you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch.

Our collaboration can be a different Kettle of Fish  

 

Kettle of Fish

Kettle of Fish

One of the winners of the Collaboration Prize, Kettle of Fish aims to create ‘turn the page’ adventure stories for the digital age.

Here, chairman Jason Wagner outlines plans for the consortium, how the Collaboration Prize will benefit them and what to expect from their first story.

“Kettle of Fish consists of three members – Ping, a digital agency based in Dunblane which I founded; Ko Lik Films, an Edinburgh animation studio which specialises in script writing; and Selina Wagner, an award-winning illustrator and animator.

“Together, we aim to create engaging interactive stories for young children which will inspire storytelling, encourage creativity, teach problem solving and help them learn about technology. Our first story is called Crocodile on the Roof, with Ko Lik taking the lead as script writers and Selina creating illustrations of the characters and designing the backgrounds. Ping will then package this together as an app, with the aim of publishing it in the fourth quarter of this year. In the meantime, we’ll be engaging with our audience on social media and building anticipation!

“Our plans are ambitious and the Collaboration Prize was the perfect opportunity for us – we were thrilled when we were told. It’s a real compliment to have our proposal recognised for its potential. With the support of Co-operative Development Scotland, we’re in the process of setting up the consortium. Their support is excellent and means we can focus on the initial business plan, promotion and a schedule for creative development.

“Ultimately, we will only be as good as the sum of our parts – and our parts are very strong! In Scotland we have a fantastic and diverse range of creative talent across multiple disciplines, from illustrators to animators, coders to musicians. By embracing that talent and collaborating we can be even stronger, and we hope Kettle of Fish can make a major impact.”

For more information about the Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize visit the website.

Click here if you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch.

The sky’s the limit for Collaboration Prize winners, Ecosse from Above

Ecosse From The Air 02

Ecosse From Above

One of the winners of the Collaboration Prize, Ecosse from Above aims to create a central resource for selling stock aerial photography of Scotland.

Founded by pilots from three established drone and aerial imaging businesses, a fourth member completes the collaboration – a web developer who will create the online infrastructure required to host the archive.

Here, one of the founding members, Craig Jump of Sky View Video, explains how they developed their idea, what the next steps are for the consortium and how they will benefit from winning the Collaboration Prize.

As independent photographers we have found ourselves visiting the same locations time and time again, which means we each have a huge collection of Scottish photography spanning the length and breadth of the country.

Through our work we’ve found there is considerable demand for affordable and easy to access images of Scottish landscapes, landmarks and destinations. For some businesses the cost of commissioning new photography is beyond their budget, so our idea offers the perfect solution for a wide range of users including national and international film makers and tourism providers.

However, to make our collaboration a reality we knew we needed to bring in additional web design and management skills in order to create our online sales and marketing platform. We sourced Keith Turnbull, a system designer and developer, who as an essential contributor to Ecosse from Above, has joined as a fourth member.

By establishing a consortium, we can all benefit from sharing Ecosse from Above as a united brand and sales platform, helping us to generate revenue from material that otherwise could have lain dormant in storage for decades. In the future we would like to invite other photographers to join the consortium and grow Ecosse from Above’s offering to customers.

Winning the Collaboration Prize will help us in many ways. This will include accessing support on how to market our services internationally, in particular Europe, Asia and the USA. The prize funding will also support our launch campaign as we build the profile of Ecosse from Above.

For more information about the Scottish Enterprise Collaboration Prize visit the website.

Click here if you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch.

Creative Scottish collaborations clinch prize

Netherbow Group 01

Edinburgh’s Netherbow

Four new Scottish consortia are celebrating after winning a share of the Collaboration Prize, which encourages Scotland’s creative businesses to work together and grow.

Launched in November 2015 by Scottish Enterprise (SE) in partnership with Creative Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office, Interactive Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Collaboration Prize is delivered by Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS).

Each prize-winning collaboration will receive £5,000 cash, up to £5,000 specialist support to set their idea in motion alongside support from CDS to form their consortium.

Below is a brief introduction to each of our winners and a summary of their collaborative idea.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at each winner and learning more about their plans for the future.

ArchBlue Ltd

ArchBlue Ltd

Founded by five organisations involved in providing complementary services to heritage sites and buildings, ArchBlue Ltd’s aim is to provide an integrated service that will support site managers with the stewardship of historical assets such as castles and archaeological sites.

Services the consortium can provide include 3D measuring and modelling, archaeological recording and visualisation, conservation planning and 3D printing. Combined, these services provide customers with a comprehensive approach to heritage site management. Winning the Collaboration Prize will help them establish a brand identity for ArchBlue Ltd and market its services to potential customers…

Ecosse From The Air 02

Ecosse From Above

An idea developed by pilots from three established drone and aerial imaging businesses, Ecosse from Above’s aim is to create a central resource for stock aerial photography of Scotland. A fourth member completes the collaboration – a web developer who will create the online infrastructure required to host the archive.

This will make members’ stock material more affordable and easier to access for a wide range of businesses including tourism providers and film makers, nationally and internationally.

It will also create a revenue stream for member photographers by creating a platform for marketing and selling archive material. The consortium hopes to open membership to other aerial photographers in the future…

An alliance of six literature organisations led by the City of Literature Trust and Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh’s Netherbow’s aim is to create a literature hub for Scotland on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

Kettle of Fish

Kettle of Fish

It will achieve this by developing the existing honeycomb of buildings, gardens, closes and streetscapes in and around the Scottish Storytelling Centre and John Knox House to create a physical presence for Edinburgh’s literature and Scotland’s culture.

Its role will be to increase the promotion of literature, support collaboration between literary and cultural organisations and improve Edinburgh’s international profile…

Kettle of Fish, which aims to create inspiring interactive storytelling apps for children, plans to use the Prize to formalise its collaboration and finance the development of its first story idea – ‘Crocodile on the Roof’.

Founded by Ping, BAFTA award-winning KO LIK Film and accomplished animation director Selina Wagner, the consortium will pool skills and resources to take each new story idea from start to finish. It will also create a platform for collaboration with other writers and artists as it develops new stories…

You can find out more about the Collaboration Prize here.

If you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch, visit here.

Driving Scotland’s conversation on inclusive business models

11/12/15 - 15112301 - SCOTTISH ENTERPRISEGLASGOWSarah DeasEarlier this month, the Scottish Government’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee hosted an evidence session on employee-owned businesses and co-operatives. I felt privileged to attend and provide evidence to the committee, alongside our Employee Ownership (EO) Ambassador Nick Kuenssberg and two of our Consortium Champions; Nathalie Agnew and Joanna Dewar-Gibb.

The session covered the different models, the support available to those looking to adopt such ways of working and the different ways in which many businesses have already benefited.

Overall, the committee hearing has cast a spotlight on inclusive business models and demonstrated their value to Scotland’s policy-makers, which will do a great deal to nurture new thinking and action. I look forward to hearing further outcomes from the review in the coming months.

‘© Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2016’

‘© Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2016’

For more detail you can read the committee papers here and watch the video here.

Also this month, I attended the fourth annual Robert Oakeshott lecture, which commemorates the founder of the Employee Ownership Association. Delivered by political economist Will Hutton, the presentation reflected on the need to reconsider how we think about ownership and purpose when it comes to doing business.

He argued that purposeful companies should have a moral core, seeking profit but not for the benefit of external stakeholders and no one else. This, Will explained, would be enhanced by ‘anchor owners’ – shareholders who have a long-term, vested interest in the business, its people and its future.

Will Hutton

On this, he highlighted the role EO can play in driving the growth of such businesses in the UK. And given the established link between EO companies and increased productivity, innovation and long-term sustainability, this is a salient point.

You can read more about the lecture here.

Finally, I’d also like to recommend reading SocialValueLab’s Better Business Better Scotland report published last month. Delivered with support from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, CGI and Caledonian MacBrayne, the research included a nationwide survey of over 1,000 businesses of all shapes and sizes across Scotland.

The report discusses the current position of corporate responsibility in Scotland, and makes recommendations on what needs to be done to promote ethical leadership in Scottish businesses.

You can read the report in full here.

From the  events, discussions and reports described above, it’s clear that Scotland’s entrepreneurs, employees and policy makers have an appetite for exploring new ways of working which make a greater contribution to the communities they serve.

This has brought inclusive models, particularly EO and consortium working, into focus.

To find out more about the various models and how we can help, visit our website.

Collaborate for Success with support from CDS

While applications for the 2015 Collaboration Prize have now closed, CDS offers year-round support to businesses interested in joining forces with like-minded companies.

One successful collaboration which formed with CDS’ support is Screen Facilities Scotland (SFS), a membership co-operative representing facility and service companies in the screen and media production industry. Formed as a consortium in 2012, it promotes Scotland’s filming facilities, industry services and infrastructure, at home and abroad. It has become a focal point for member companies and a strong voice in the wider industry.

Here, Director Joanna Dewar Gibb explains the origins of SFS and how CDS support has helped it grow to become a major industry player.

SFS photo

Facilities and service companies are vital to Scotland’s production infrastructure, but many such companies in the creative sector felt under-represented. A few of these businesses came together to discuss a way forward, but the path wasn’t clear.

We decided to enter the Collaboration Prize in 2012 and were delighted to win. Thanks to the support of CDS, we were able to find that way forward. The process helped us focus our efforts and establish a formal body – Screen Facilities Scotland – quickly and appropriately.

We also received vital advice on strategy, marketing and IT, which helped us define our consortium structure and draft SFS members’ agreement.

One of the main concerns we wanted to tackle by forming SFS is the issue of Scottish contracts within our sector being won by businesses outside the country. By coming together we have tackled this issue with a stronger voice, allowing members to grow their businesses, build reputations and secure jobs and growth for the sector.

As a unified voice, we can also market our industry with greater impact, lobby for improvements to industry practices and policy, and pitch for projects as a larger group or series of sub-groups. As a central point of contact for potential clients, government, public agencies and other organisations, SFS is now a visible and influential entity.

The success of our collaboration has also earned SFS invitations to participate in a number of landmark events including the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Xpo North, IBC in Amsterdam and BVE in London. SFS members have also been asked formally to submit their views to several parliamentary committees, including the initial session of the Screen Sector Leadership Group.

We know first-hand the unpredictable environment in which creative businesses operate. Working with other like-minded companies in a formal consortium co-operative affords each company a number of advantages – the ability to grow their business, network more often, share common challenges and build a higher profile.

A consortium co-operative can help your company grow with shared resources, reduced risk, and access to new markets. It’s an organisation run in a shared and equal way by, and for the benefit of its members. Members are businesses and the co-operative can be for any purpose which supports them – such as marketing, tendering, innovating or exporting.

CDS can help you to explore the options, structure your consortium, and get more members involved.

If you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch, visit here.

Collaboration: A step-by-step guide

Jaye Martin 03

Collaboration brings a number of benefits – including business growth, reduced costs and extra resources –but when should a business join or form a consortium? How does it go about doing so? And what specific benefits can it deliver?

Here, CDS specialist advisor Jaye Martin shares a brief step-by-step guide to consortium working.

Step 1: Identify barriers to growth
For many small and micro-enterprises, lack of scale, time, finance or resources can be a barrier to accessing new markets, tendering for larger contracts or simply marketing services. These challenges will be familiar to many businesses, particularly those with small teams or those who provide unique or niche products and services.

Step 2: Look for a potential solution
Teaming up with other like-minded businesses and forming a consortium is an excellent way to break down these barriers. Suitable for businesses of all sizes operating in any sector, this model can help businesses grow by reducing the costs and risks associated with tackling new markets and investing in new products and services. It can also enable businesses to share resources such as back office functions and premises. Meanwhile, member businesses are able to retain their own brands, independence and control. You can find out more here.

Step 3: Find collaborators
Carefully identifying like-minded businesses to work with is crucial. Trust is a key factor. It can help if the businesses have worked together informally before. In most cases, member businesses operate in similar or complementary fields, although a lot will depend on the rationale for collaboration. You can read about the experience of a number of successful consortia here.

Step 4: Choose the right structure
The consortium co-operative model is an effective collaborative business structure. In simple terms it is an organisation run in a shared and equal way by and for the benefit of its members. Members are independent businesses and the consortium can be for any purpose which supports them, for example marketing, tendering, innovating or exporting. Co-operative Development Scotland has a track record in helping businesses and we’d be happy to help you explore the options. You can contact us here.

Step 5: Benefit from your collaboration
Collaborating can be a real game-changer for businesses. Collaborating can be a real game-changer for businesses. For example, through collaboration, Adventures in Light – an Edinburgh-based consortium which brings together a 3D artist, a film-maker and a carpenter – have been able to invest in essential new kit which has supported them to keep experimenting and inventing. This, in turn, has helped them work on bigger projects such as the International Science Festival and the Kelburn Garden Party.

As well as supporting businesses to access new markets, share risks and costs and develop new products or services, many businesses involved in consortium working also report increased confidence, better business connections, improved knowledge-sharing and an enhanced profile.

The benefits are tangible and numerous – and definitely worth exploring when considering the future of your business.

CDS can help you to explore the options, structure the consortium, and get more members involved. 

If you would like to find out more about collaborative business models, or if you would like to get in touch, visit here.