‘Ensuring our younger employees have an equal say in direction of the business is vitally important’ – LUC
LUC is empowering its younger employee owners to contribute to the decision-making process, believing it is “vitally important” to ensure they have an equal say in the direction of the business.
The EOA trustee member, which was set up in 1966 and has around 250 skilled professionals across six offices in the UK, formally transferred ownership on Christmas Eve 2019, ready to embrace being employee-owned fully at the start of 2020.
LUC, which stands for Land Use Consultants, is an award-winning environmental consultancy providing planning, impact assessment, landscape design, ecology and geospatial services. It says: “We care about the legacy we leave and hope to make a real difference through the work we do.”
Senior Landscape Architect Alex Burton has been an employee trustee on LUC’s employee ownership trust (EOT) board since it transitioned.
The 33-year-old, who is based in the Manchester office, says LUC has made a “conscious decision” that all employees, including more junior members of staff, “should be included in the decision-making process at LUC”.
Alex says LUC’s three-year company strategy, launched in January 2021, was a good example of this – with all employees consulted before it was unveiled.
“The senior members of staff developed the strategy and then everyone in the company was able to comment, no matter what seniority you were,” he said.
“All employees were able to contribute to where they would like to see the company going in the next three years and what they think the priorities of the company are.
“To understand that younger people are going to be the people that take on the company, and making sure they do have a say and can move the company in a direction that they want to take it, is vitally important.
“One of the greatest things about an EOT is we are masters of our own destiny. Being a young person in this day and age, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be the master of your own destiny, in terms of things like housing prices and the cost of living, and it also sometimes feels like you’re always working for somebody else.
“But being an EOT it does give a degree of comfort that you’re actually working for yourself and the collective.”
Having a ‘tangible’ impact
Meanwhile, two younger employee owners at LUC have spoken to the EOA Podcast about what it’s like working for an employee-owned business.
Consultant Landscape Architect Ben Wayles, a member of the design team in Manchester, joined aged 26 in September 2018, so has experienced life at LUC before and after its transition to an EOT.
He said: “You did always feel like you had a voice in the company, but becoming an EOT has given us more routes and streams for how we can help influence how the company develops.
“We’ve definitely got more of a meaningful impact now, it’s a lot more tangible to see how we can impact the direction of the company.
“Becoming an EOT seems to have motivated a lot more people to engage and get more involved in the day-to-day. A lot of times when you’re working for other companies, you don’t have to think at all about how your work influences how the company is run or how that is profitable.
“But becoming an EOT opens your eyes to that a bit more, it gives you that level of understanding that you can’t really get in other ways at other companies of how your work influences the actual running and sustainability of a company.”
Transparency and approachability
Jessica Pearce, 26, joined the company in January this year as a senior environmental planner based in the Cardiff office.
She told the EOA Podcast she wanted to join an employee-owned business when looking for her latest job, due to the culture you get within an EO business to have more say in how you can steer the company.
“It’s nice to know you can have a chat with the employee trustees, they’re based in offices with us and are people who are typically younger and very approachable,” she said. “And it’s nice to know that information will be relayed and heard higher up in the company.
“There is a lot of transparency here and people are very approachable, that’s really important having approachable people and knowing who those people are and seeing them in the offices.
“Knowing you can ask them questions and you’re a voice of a person who also has a stake in that company now rather than just an employee, it’s nice knowing that option is available.”
You can hear more from Alex, Jessica and Ben on episode four of the EOA Podcast, click here to listen >>
On the member-only EO Hub: How being employee-owned has accelerated LUC’s ‘authentic’ approach to ESG