Richard Lambert, Co-Founder of Evolution Europe, the fire and security specialists, says giving employees ownership of the business through a trust leads to better client relationships.
It’s now only a few short months after establishing an Employee Ownership Trust (EoT) to enable our employees to effectively own the business in which they work.
It’s a scheme that benefits all employees and treats all staff on an equitable basis and it is perhaps not surprising that it is proving increasingly popular in certain parts of the UK economy.
Employee ownership helps us in retaining our independence, rewards our team’s hard work and ultimately helps a company’s founders and existing shareholders to receive a fair value for the business they have built.
The concept is far from new: John Lewis was set up as an employee-owned Partnership from the start almost 100 years ago but, in recent years, it has surged in popularity with companies such as Richer Sounds, Aardman and Arups being early adopters.
As a business owner, an EoT has obvious financial attractions that are well known. Working in the security industry, however, makes the attractiveness of such a scheme even greater.
We are, fundamentally, a relationship-driven industry. Our success is primarily dependent on building long-term trust with our clients.
People ‘buy’ people, as the saying goes and once trust has been established, a relationship steadily shifts from being one of supplier/customer to one of genuine partnership.
There is always the risk, however, of an employee moving companies, perhaps for an uplift in pay, or presumed better conditions, or simply because they feel undervalued and unrecognised for the role that they play in their employer’s success.
This, for me, is where an EoT really scores. It says to the employee that they are recognised, they are valued and what’s more, their future reward is directly related to the effort they put in.
It therefore supports employee retention and career progression, as well as establishing a future leadership team.
But even more than this, it says to the customer that here is an individual who is in it for the long term, who I can rely upon to deliver the service I need.
It says that here is a partner who truly values their employees and is prepared to invest in their future. And the proof is in what our own people think about it.
Gillian Muir, a Sales Support Administrator for the business in Scotland, says there are not many employees who can claim they work for a company that is employee-owned.
She says: “We all work together as one and the EOT demonstrates we are investing in the people who make Evolution the company it is.”
Anna Stepniak, a Regional Service Supervisor, similarly based in Scotland agrees. She says that within the business she always knew she had a voice but with the EOT she now feels even more empowered: “Every decision we’re making we always have to keep in mind how it will affect the company in the long run and benefit us in the future,” she says.
Area Sales Manager Mark Hirst says there has always been a feeling of togetherness, but that the EOT provides the ‘cement’ that anchors that feeling in place: “I am excited to see what the coming years of employee ownership will bring to Evolution and our customers,” he explains.
“Everyone has a part to play, everyone is a cog in the Evolution machine and the EOT provides a mechanism to demonstrate this to all who are involved.”
We are all customers in one way or another and most of us want the same thing: consistency, both in the people we work with and in the service we receive. People are instinctively fearful of change and disruption and an EoT helps create an atmosphere of calm and assurance that supports long-term stability. What is usually established through a comparatively narrow lens – and often in preference to a trade sale – has far greater social and economic benefit.
Some companies within our industry and beyond are guilty of paying lip-service to employee engagement. We’ve all seen it before – the odd poster on the kitchen notice board or banal email that says we’re all one great team.
An EoT, however, gives employees a genuine stake in the business and their future. It improves their relationship with their managers and is proven to lead to greater productivity and loyalty.
And this ultimately leads to a more productive relationship with their customers and a relationship in which everyone wins.
For more information, visit: www.evolutionsecurity.com
This article was originally published in the October 2022 edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.