Sharing The Wealth.
Highly engaged and motivated employees can give you a competitive edge in terms of business performance and are also crucial in terms of building a strong brand. Employees are often on the front line particularly within the service industry so they really need to embody what your brand is all about. You want them to care as much about the company and be as enthusiastic about the brand as the owners would be.
Employees also need to have autonomy in their roles. Give them the responsibility to make decisions to strengthen your brand and the freedom to make mistakes without the fear of reprimand. A strong ownership culture within a company would also mean that employees are consulted on major decisions.
There are currently several tax efficient share schemes in the UK which can be used to make your employees shareholders. In particular, a Share Incentive Plan would allow employees to be awarded shares which are completely free of tax and/or to purchase them from gross salary subject to annual limits set by HMRC. Employees may not even hold shares on an individual basis. Many employee-owned companies such as John Lewis use a Trust structure to hold the shares on behalf of employees. Regardless of whether shareholding is through a Trust or on an individual basis, the stake that employees as a whole have must be meaningful to ensure that the full benefits are realised.
The fact that you are employee owned can also be a key part of your branding and what differentiates you in the market place. Many employee-owned companies will proudly include this as part of their logo and/or mention it on the homepage of their website. Customers and suppliers alike are pleased that everyone from the company that they deal with has stake in the business and it can also help attract and retain talented individuals to join the company.
All is not lost if you’re not employee owned and don’t intend to go down this path as some of the benefits of “ownership thinking” may still be obtained even if employees don’t actually have a stake in the business. The sharing of information and consultation on decision making can still ensure that employees are enthusiastic ambassadors for the brand and the sharing of rewards can be through a bonus scheme and indeed may not even be financial as long as employees feel that they are being fairly rewarded for the contribution that they are making.
To find out more about employee ownership, please visit www.employeeownership.co.uk or Google ‘Employee Ownership’ for your region.
Support is available in Scotland for companies wishing to explore the possibility of employee ownership through Co-operative Development Scotland http://bit.ly/YedYRd