June 23rd is a chance to celebrate Employee Ownership Day and raise awareness of the benefits of being an employee owned business. We’ve been 100% employee owned since 2021, meaning every member of our team is now a beneficiary of the We Are ADT Employee Ownership Trust and have a real voice in how the business is run.
Craig Sanderson joined the business in late 2022 so we’ve spoken to him to get his views on being part of an employee owned business…
Why did you choose to join an employee owned business?
I really liked the fact that with the employee ownership model, everyone has a genuine interest in making the business a success, and the opportunity to do so. I’d be working together with the team to drive the business forward for the benefit of each other, as opposed to ‘traditional’ shareholders, which really appealed to me. I genuinely feel that the team has a fantastic opportunity to work collaboratively to create a market leading company that reflects and rewards its great people.
How is an employee owned business run differently to other businesses you’ve experienced?
In a typical privately owned business, the majority of significant decisions will generally be made by the business owners and/or a Board of Directors and senior leadership team. At ADT Workplace, because we’re 100% employee owned, the Board of Directors are governed by an Employee Ownership Trust Board. This Trust Board comprises an independent trustee, three employee representatives (who were voted in by their colleagues) and one trustee representing the previous business owners. They are there to govern the business and are essentially responsible for holding the Board of Directors to account on behalf of all employees. The Employee Trust Board are also used as a sounding board for the Directors, who must seek approval from them on any major business decisions which could impact employees. This ensures that the business is genuinely run with the best interests of all employees in mind.
In addition, we have an Employee Council, which is made up of representatives from each team across the business. The Council meets regularly and acts as the intermediary between all employees and the Board of Directors. Employees can use the Council to suggest ideas for business improvements or provide feedback on business activity, and the Board also uses the Council to seek feedback and input when needed.
The three pronged approach of the Employee Trust Board, the Employee Council, and the Board of Directors, ensures the business is run effectively and in the best interests of all involved.
How does being employee owned benefit the team?
There are a number of ways the team benefit from being part of an employee owned business. As I’ve already mentioned, people have the genuine opportunity to have a say in how the company is run via the Employee Council – from being asked for their opinions on business decisions, to being able to make suggestions for improvements and seeing those implemented. Since becoming employee owned, we have implemented a number of initiatives brought about from ideas put forward by employees– for example, we’ve gifted the Christmas period off to all, meaning people now have three or four additional days annual leave each year, we’ve also launched an electric car scheme and introduced a formal wellbeing programme. We’ve also completed our first-ever employee feedback survey which has improved engagement and allowed us to make improvements based specifically on what employees want and need.
Financially there are incentives too, with the opportunity for employee owned businesses to share a percentage of company profits among employees – up to £3,600 tax free per person per year.
Are there any other advantages?
There is no doubt that being an employee owned business improves engagement and creates a more balanced and united company culture, with everyone working together towards a shared vision and with the common interest of making the business a success.
We are also being more innovative because we make the effort to consult with people, share information about the company, and give the team responsibility. By encouraging all of our people to think like owners, we benefit from some really great suggestions for changes that weren’t previously on our radar.
What’s more, in an increasingly competitive jobs market, we have found that being an employee owned business gives us the edge in attracting and retaining talented people, because they have high aspirations and are keen to be involved in the future of the company.
What would your advice to be to any business owners considering a move to employee ownership?
My advice to anyone considering a transition to employee ownership for their business would be that employee engagement is key. The team and culture must be aligned as one, with a clear vison and understanding of what you are trying to achieve and why. You need to empower people to think and act as owners, by helping them to understand how the business is performing and what is needed in order to drive success, and then giving them the support and opportunities to deliver this.