Number of employee-owned businesses doubled since 2020
by Karen Kahn
The United Kingdom celebrated its tenth Employee Ownership (EO) Day on June 24, 2022, and there was a lot to celebrate. Over the last decade, the number of employee-owned businesses has grown to 1,030, with a record 285 businesses choosing employee ownership in 2021 alone. This exponential growth followed the release of the Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership and changes in policies to promote Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs).
The number of employee-owned businesses has grown to 1,030, with a record 285 businesses choosing employee ownership in 2021 alone.
More businesses transitioned in 2020 and 2021 than in any of the previous eight years, as businesses looked to increase resiliency and productivity in the face of the worldwide pandemic.
New survey data from the White Rose Centre for Employee Ownership, released in conjunction with EO Day celebrations, shows that employee-owned businesses are engaging employees more deeply in business decisions and are experiencing substantially higher productivity than traditionally structured businesses. Among the survey findings, employee-owned businesses demonstrated commitments to:
- Social responsibility: 71 percent report having a statement of purpose that includes making a positive impact on the environment and society, and 96 percent report that workforce satisfaction is a key measure of business success.
- Inclusive governance structures: 97 percent report having at least one form of employee governance;
- Democratized decision making: 90 percent report that employees have some or a lot of say in decisions on working conditions; 85 percent report employees have some say in working methods.
- Open-book management: 75 percent report sharing financial information several times a year, and another 21 percent annually.
The UK’s Employee Ownership Association (EOA) reports that among employee-owned businesses, median productivity increased 5.2 percent in the last year, double the UK average of 2.6 percent.
The Chief Executive of the EOA, James de le Vingne, said in a press release: “On this, the 10th EO Day, we are delighted to see the exceptional growth in the sector. . . . Now that we have this momentum, which indicates the relevance of the employee ownership model during a time where businesses are looking to create certainty and be more ethical in their approach to employees and the environment, we are asking how we can make sure the economy can reap the evidenced benefits of employee ownership at an even greater scale.”
Says Graeme Nuttall, whose report propelled this extraordinary growth, “There has been a decade of EOT ownership and employee ownership is now a mainstream UK business model.”