Attending the EOA’s employee voice course showed me the value of making sure everyone is heard in an EO business | Guest blog

Guest blog by Lisa Walker, an accountant at The Peloton, an accountancy firm based in Cornwall that transferred ownership to an employee ownership trust (EOT) in June 2022. Lisa is chair for The Peloton’s monthly EOT forums to feedback views to the trust board, and in this blog talks about the benefits of being among the first cohort to attend the EOA’s newest course titled ‘representing and developing employee voice in an EO business’.

It was a big learning curve after we transitioned to employee ownership, I don’t think anybody really knew what to expect or how it was going to work out, but it’s been a really positive experience so far, and our forum meetings are progressing well.

Making sure everybody is heard in a business is something I feel passionate about. In my various jobs throughout my life, I’ve always been the person who likes to be in the meetings and to speak up. However, I’m well aware that there are people who don’t feel confident to speak up or challenge, and I like the idea of trying to find ways of getting everybody’s voices heard.

So, when I saw the EOA’s employee voice training course advertised I thought it was a good idea to sign up, as the chairperson of our monthly EOT Forums, and suggested to everyone that I attend.

I was hoping to tap into other ideas of how to go about hearing everybody’s voice, and to come away with a plan of how to move forward with our own forum.

Benefits of attending course

Our day jobs at The Peloton have massively changed since becoming employee owned because we’re so involved – we know everything.

What I found most useful about the EO Learn course was talking and listening to businesses from across the country of all different sizes, finding out what works and doesn’t work, and that we all have similar issues.

Course director Helen Moreton has so much experience, so it was really good to hear her views of the best ways to go about maximising employee voice, and then to bring that back to what would work best for us.

As a small firm in Cornwall with just 17 employees, our meetings involve everybody, and there are some people that are happy to talk and some less so.

If you have the same people always speaking up and having their opinion, those people who are quiet aren’t heard as much – quite often they have great ideas but don’t have the confidence to speak up.

To make decisions as an employee-owned business, we want to have everybody’s opinion or vote. It’s important we’re all working together as a team moving forwards, so it’s about finding a way to ensure all views are heard.

It was really interesting on the course hearing about people in larger companies who had been sending out questionnaires to involve everybody, as they can’t have every single person in their meetings.

From these questionnaires employees filled in, the main points were put together to talk about in the meetings, which I think is a good idea for those people who don’t like speaking up.

So, I took away the idea of doing something like a questionnaire, anonymous suggestion box or email to help feed into the agenda for voice meetings, or to have somewhere employees can put their ideas without necessarily having to put their name to it.

I’d definitely recommend people in employee-owned businesses attend this course as I really benefited. It was interesting being part of something where everyone’s going through the same thing, but at various different stages and from a range of businesses. To hear how people do things might be something you’ve not thought of yourself, and I found that a really positive thing.

About the course

At the EOA, we believe that listening to and responding to employee voice supports employees to contribute in a way that is meaningful and valued.

Our ‘Representing and Developing Employee Voice in an EO Business’ course, run virtually by experienced course director Helen Moreton over two half days, supports those who are employee voice representatives, or who have representing developing employee voice as part of their job role, to better understand and develop practices to ensure effective use of employee voice.

Find out more by clicking here.

Related articles

Lisa Walker appeared in Episode 12 of the EOA Podcast, which is on the theme of empowering employees to act like owners, listen here >>

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