CEO Blog – Webinars evidence why EO can help build back better

Over the past three months, at the height of ‘lock-down’ I had the privilege to chair our series of webinars, which supported our members and the wider employee owned community as they dealt with the health and economic challenges of Covid-19. 

As I reflect on the case studies from the webinars and the stories shared with us by our members over the last months, it’s clear that during the initial response to the pandemic, EO businesses were able to leverage their employee ownership spirit to unite employee owners behind a common purpose, helping their ability to adapt, innovate and flex during this crisis 

As the UK moves into the next chapter of this pandemic, these businesses will also rely on other characteristics of employee ownership including the commitment to employee engagement, taking a long-term view and prioritising the collective care of all employees. 

Whilst there are more examples than there is space to cover here, my top takeaways from the last weeks of engaging with our members are; 

  • Trust is the most important currency in difficult times. Developed over the long term through regular, consistent and honest communication and engagement, trust ensures that enacting a decision, especially in a crisis, is easier, better supported and has greater impact.  We had great examples of this from WCF and Rowlinson Knitwear as they described their businesses initial response to the pandemic. Watch them again in our webiar Job Retention During the Coronavirus Crisis
  • People make a business work. Everyone’s contribution matters, regardless of their title or salary and success is the result of collective effort not individual achievement. Recognising, supporting and rewarding every individual’s contribution builds strength and unity for the whole. We had great examples of this from Jerba Campervans and Scot Bader as they described their businesses initial response to the pandemic. Watch again How transparent and open communication can guide your business through a crisis. Also it is fair to say that all of our webinars showcase a human-centred approach with these businesses putting people are at the heart of everything they do – choose from our 10 subjects.
  • Leadership works best when it is inclusive, compassionate and humble. A leaders responsibility is to curate the power of the many behind a plan, ensuring everyone has the right skills and is cared for.  Leaders in crisis therefore need to accept that they won’t get every decision right, but that the wider team will pick up the load when needed. We had great examples of this from 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan and DustScanAQ as they described their businesses initial response to the pandemic. Watch them again in our webinar The Art of good leadership during a crisis.  

Whilst some businesses are still in lockdown, unable to open and others have changed shape beyond recognition, the national conversation has started to move not only to how to restart, but how to emerge as an economy and society, in a better place.  #BuildBackBetter has now become the by-line for ambitions of sustainability, resilience, equality and productivity.  

All of the traits identified above in employee owned businesses are the necessary pillars of the foundations of a stronger, more resilient, productive and fairer economy. As we look to celebrate EO Day 2020 next week, these are therefore some of the reasons why we believe that to help the economy to build back better, employee ownership is most definitely part of the answer.