New Research Finds Employee-led Businesses are Happier and Healthier than their counterparts

New research published today by the Employee Ownership Association and sponsored by the John Lewis Partnership shows that staff working in employee owned companies are happier, healthier and more secure than workers without a stake in their company. 

Speaking at a joint EOA / Cabinet Office event, EOA Chief Executive Iain Hasdell said: “It is unsurprising that employee owners feel more empowered and in control than other workers. Being an employee owner is not simply about ownership of shares – directly or indirectly – but empowerment and involvement in decisions about the business. So it’s heartening to see that job satisfaction is higher amongst employee owners, with 4 out of 5 happy to recommend their organisation as a place to work.

He continued: “This new report shows that people in employee-owned companies feel much greater involvement in decision-making at work, which feeds through into other benefits including satisfaction and wellbeing. The key to the success of employee ownership is respect and recognition in the workplace. And the reason that we will continue to challenge attempts to remove workplace rights from this group of workers.”

The John Lewis Partnership, sponsor of the report, is one of the largest examples in the UK of a company entirely owned by its employees, with benefits and profits shared by all. The Constitution sets out how Partners are encouraged and supported to take responsibility for business success, to build working relationships based on shared principles, and to exercise real influence over their working lives. 

‘Fit for Work? Health and Wellbeing in Employee Owned Business' provides independent evidence on the impact of employee ownership on the health and well-being of employees. The study involved over 1000 direct interviews and compared to relevant national workforce surveys. 

The results show a very high level of wellbeing and satisfaction amongst employee owners and are further strengthened when compared to the national Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS, which was carried out in 2004 when the economy was more buoyant) and the results are consistently more positive for staff in employee owned organisations than for the UK workforce as a whole.

The research shows:

  • employee owners feel more empowered and in control than other workers - almost double the felt involved in management decision-making, compared to the broader working community (57% vs 31%)

  • there is a far greater sense of job security amongst employee owners than other workers

  • 4 out of 5 employee owners experiencing a sense of achievement from their jobs

  • nearly 80% of employee owners were happy to recommend their organisation as a place to work

This research adds to recent studies showing that high engagement organisations returned a staggering 7 times more to shareholders over a 5-year period than those in the lowest quartile. The Kenexa research established the link between engagement and total net income using data from 64 organisations and reinforces the strong link between employee engagement and financial performance. For more on the Kenexa research, see “Employee Engagement: The Evidence”.

The research was conducted by Professor Ron McQuaid and his team at the Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University and is based on 8 case studies and over 1000 interviews with staff in employee owned businesses, compared to benchmark data from the National WERS workplace survey.

The research was commissioned by the Employee Ownership Association with sponsorship from the John Lewis Partnership.