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.”
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.
“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.