Conference Season

Like red buses you wait for a decent conference to speak at and two arrive within a week of each other.

On Thursday 23rd November it was the MRS Owners and Leaders’ Summit in Fitzrovia, on Monday 27th November it was the Employee Ownership Association annual conference at the ACC in Liverpool. 

I felt really privileged to have a week ruminating on life as CEO at an Employee-Owned Business and sharing our experiences, firstly with our peers in the research industry and then with an astonishingly diverse range of businesses who have all made the EO journey and travelled to Liverpool to learn, share and party.

So what are my main take outs from a week of EOing?

1.    Employee Ownership is a good fit for the Market Research industry. An industry dominated by privately owned businesses, that have grown and evolved off the back of collaborative creative cultures, is fertile territory for a business model that offers cultural continuity allied with financial resolution.

2.    Just this week the MR EO club was joined by another agency Swift Research (welcome) – I am sure many more will follow.

3.    All research companies have more in common than differentiates them – it is ALWAYS a pleasure to spend time with colleagues in the industry.

4.    What do East Coast Community Care, Horizon Platforms and The Nursery Research & Planning have in common? A surprisingly large amount – as well as sharing a platform at the EOA conference we are all making EO work for us in very different worlds, in very different ways.

5.    Becoming EmployeeOwned doesn’t make you a good business, but it can help you make a good business better by embedding good business practices – like transparency, fairness and full team engagement.

6.    Employee Ownership is not a panacea – for many shareholders in research businesses there are other solutions that provide exit strategies that better fit their aspirations, their culture and their business. It’s great to have options.

7.    For the first time, there is some concrete evidence to confirm what those of us in club EO already know – on average EO businesses perform better than others:

a.    EOBs are 8% - 12% more productive than non-EOBs (calculated on a Gross Valued Added per employee basis).

b.    EOBs make up just 0.1% of businesses but drive 0 1.7-2.1% of overall economic activity.

c.    The majority of EOBs (57%) reported profits increasing since becoming EO and EOBs are over 25% more likely to have seen profits increase in the last five years than non-EOBS. (more details here https://employeeownership.co.uk/kp/)

8.    The fact that employees are shareholders doesn’t decrease the responsibility on managers to manage – quite the opposite – and in Liverpool we heard from great business leaders on how to inspire their people (no pressure!).

9.    One of my most well-judged business decisions of the past week was to resist the temptation to take part in the 'Rockaoke’ after the EOA awards dinner.