On Employee Ownership Day 2019, one of Devon’s leading employee owned businesses is urging business owners to consider employee ownership. This comes as a survey shows that although 70 per cent of business owners surveyed could see the benefits of employee ownership, less than 10 per cent have considered implementing it because of a need to see more evidence of local businesses becoming employee owned.
Leading Devon law firm Stephens Scown LLP became employee owned in 2016, making it the first large law firm in the UK to do so. The firm also advises businesses owners considering a transition to employee ownership through a sale of part or whole of the business
A survey conducted by PFA Research for Stephens Scown with businesses based in Devon has shown that despite hesitancy to switch to employee ownership among some businesses, 70 per cent of surveyed companies saw definite benefits to the model, both for management and for employees.
Commenting on the results of the survey, Stephens Scown’s managing partner Richard Baker said: “With high profile South West businesses like Aardman Animations and Riverford Organics becoming employee owned in recent years, there is increasing awareness of the benefits of employee ownership.
“We have seen this interest increase ourselves and we are currently in discussions to provide legal support to 18 businesses from across the UK who are at various stages of the transition to employee ownership. While it is natural for business owners to be cautious, businesses like ours can show them that employee ownership is achievable and desirable.”
Discussing the firm’s move to employee ownership, Richard Baker said: “I have been with the firm for over two decades, and the switching over to employee ownership was one of the best decisions that we have made for our people, and the firm as a whole.
“Being employee owned is about so much more than the profit-share; it’s about everyone being able to have their say as we all work towards a common goal. We are not a workplace where everything flows to the top; employee ownership means that nobody is left behind and ensures that the business keeps running no matter who is holding the reins.”
Employee Ownership Day (28 June 2019) is an initiative of the Employee Ownership Association and aims to raise awareness of the economic benefits and positive impact the sector has on the UK economy. More than 300 businesses in the UK are now employee owned, employing in excess of 200,000 people between them. The sector has seen 60% of its growth in the past seven years and continues to grow at more than 10% a year. It contributes £30 billion to GDP.
The Employee Ownership Association reports additional benefits to the employee owned companies; candidates are 44 per cent more likely to apply for jobs at employee owned companies, and 58 per cent of UK adults agree that employee owned companies are more trustworthy than their counterparts.