2012 Annual Employee Ownership Conference & Awards Night

by Nadia Woodhouse

The power of ‘we’…

As well as working with organisations across Australia to help them become more sustainable, Net Balance is working towards tomorrow’s agenda by ensuring that our own organisation can thrive into the future.

A large proportion of our workforce is generation Y - an increasingly mobile generation which places career progression on par with competitive pay packages. Understanding what drives and motivates our employees is important, and Net Balance is committed to working hard to maintain and grow our talented workforce.

One way of doing this is to engage our employees in a journey of ownership.  Inspired by the John Lewis Partnership model (Waitrose in the UK), employee ownership is a unique way to attract and retain employees, motivate people to reap the rewards of a vested interest in an organisation’s success, as well as being a good way to plan for the succession of the business.

At the 2012 Employee Ownership Association of Australia conference on 10 May, Net Balance was introduced to a number of ownership models, the business and tax implications of these, as well as global trends in employee ownership. Globally, employee ownership enjoys a strong uptake in both the UK and US while in Australia there has been a slow uptake, due in part to a complex regulatory system and a general lack of organisational impetus. However, there are a number of companies across Australia that are going against the grain by introducing innovative ownership schemes resulting in increased engagement from employees. We congratulate Peabody Energy, Yum Restaurants, Fletcher Building, Westpac Group, BHP Billiton and C-Mac industries on picking up awards at the Employee Ownership Awards night.

Steven Grlyak, manufacturing manager at C-Mac industries noted that as a result of the employee ownership scheme “People are now saying ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and asking, “what do you want us to do?”.

Sir Stuart Hampson, speaker at the conference and Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership until 2003, said that the key to turning employee mentality from ‘they’ into ‘we’ is to develop a sense of citizenship within a business. This is the turning point where employees become partners, motivated by the long term success of the organisation.

Inspired by what employee ownership can do for the sustainability of organisations, Net Balance will continue to engage with leaders in this area and to explore how employee ownership might transform our business into the future.

Nadia Woodhouse is an Associate of Net Balance (nadia@netbalance.com), 
one of the world’s leading sustainability advisory firms.
Nadia is based in Melbourne.