Improving employee engagement using an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT)
One of the things that has become clear since the pandemic is how essential employee engagement is to the overall health and function of a company’s workforce. In what has been coined ‘The Great Resignation’, many employees who do not feel engaged and invested in their employer are leaving for opportunities elsewhere. As a result, companies are often losing key people from their workforce.
When we talk about employee engagement, what do we mean? Essentially, employee engagement relates to the emotional commitment an employee has to a company, its values and its goals. The idea is, that the emotional commitment the employee has with the company means they are invested in and care about the work that the company does. In turn, the more invested an employee is, the more likely that individual is to work more effectively and remain committed longer term.
Moving to an EOT model is the first step to creating an environment for employee engagement to thrive, as employees working within an EOT have an indirect ownership of the company itself and have some control over where the company goes in the future. This will almost certainly lead to the following benefits for an EOT (as set out by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) on their website):
- Because they’re co-owners, staff in employee owned businesses tend to be more entrepreneurial and committed to the company and its success.
- Because they have high employment standards, involve staff and give everyone a stake, employee owned businesses are better at recruiting and retaining talented, committed staff.
- Because they’re run in an open way, employee owned businesses tend to have a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and involvement with the communities they operate in.
- Employee owned businesses are more resilient and better able to deal with economic downturns
However, setting up as an EOT will not automatically lead to higher employee engagement. There must also be the foundations that underpin the ethos of an EOT. An EOT should create a sense of belonging, purpose and direction. Employees must feel valued and involved in the company and the company’s future. EOTs should also encourage and foster employee autonomy, and acknowledge that whilst there must be certain rules that are adhered to, employees have at least a certain amount of freedom to make decisions. EOTs should of course also ensure that employees are involved in decision making, and make it clear to employees how to be involved.
One of the ways in which the foundations of an EOT ethos can be laid is by moving away from a traditional staff handbook, towards an employee handbook which is much more focused on empowering employees, as opposed to rigidly setting out rules and regulations. This will enable the individuals to see how each one can play a part going forward. If you are thinking about moving to an EOT model, our employment experts at Geldards can help you to put together your employee handbook based on the ethos and values of the organisation and ensure that the terminology of the handbook encourages and fosters the employee engagement from the outset.