EOA highlights benefits of member online platform the EO Hub as it reaches 2,000-user milestone

The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) is celebrating after reaching 2,000 users of its EO Hub platform and is using the milestone to highlight the benefits of the site for its members.

The EO Hub, which was launched in 2017, is the EOA’s online platform for member networking. The member-only site enables businesses, stakeholders and advisers to connect with fellow members from across the network, register for events, read the latest news, join conversations in the forum and access documents in the resource library.

This week the EOA approved the 2,000th user of the platform, with members of the site representing more than 400 businesses or organisations from 31 industry sectors.

The 2,000th user came from Bernard Sims Associates, an award-winning independent health and safety consultancy with offices in Surrey, Leeds and Lichfield. The company transitioned to employee ownership in December 2021 and recently joined the EOA as a member.

Having already attended a number of EOA Conversation events, three members of the Bernard Sims team signed up to the EO Hub this week, with Accounts Manager and Employee Trustee Sarah Blayney being number 2,000.

Director Jackie Sims, co-founder of the business alongside husband Bernie, said they were “thrilled” to hear the news and, as the company looks to bed in its employee ownership culture, hopes the EO Hub will prove a useful tool.

She said: “We’re excited to be employee-owned, but that’s just the beginning.

“We did a lot around comms in the build-up, but it can take a bit of time for people to understand what it really means.

“It will be useful to use the EO Hub as a tool to help with the engagement process and engage with other companies at different stages of the journey, learning from their experiences, as well as utilising all the other resources.”

EO Hub compared to Forrest Gump quote ‘life’s like a box of chocolates’

The EOA has used this milestone as a reason to further promote the EO Hub and to shine a light on its benefits in the hope it will encourage even more people to sign up.

And those who were among the first to sign up have given the platform a glowing endorsement.

Simon Holman from employee-owned Castlefield, a Manchester-based investment management and financial planning business, signed up to the Hub in the first week of its launch in August 2017.

Simon, who also sits on the EOA Membership Council, says the platform allows him to “keep the conversation going”.

He said: “Back when it was set up, that seemed one of the most powerful things about it. We’d go to conferences or networking meetings and you’d meet really interesting people, have conversations and then it would sort of go dry for a few months because you go back to your day job.

“However, with the Hub you can keep the conversation going, you can pick up with people or ask questions or get other insights – it makes it year-round.

“It’s unquestionably a benefit to have it. The more access everyone can get to sharing, giving and receiving information the better for developing knowledge of employee ownership overall.”

Asked what he would say to new members or those who don’t use the platform that often, Simon added: “Just take a look or dip a toe back in and see what’s in there.

“It makes me think of the Forrest Gump quote ‘life’s like a box of chocolates’, the EO Hub’s a bit like that, you never quite know what little tit bits you’re going to find that could be really useful for developing your business and developing EO, so it’s worth taking the plunge.”

Hub users have ‘shared purpose’, but it’s ‘much more than social media’

Tony Shally, founder and managing director of Lichfield-based Espace, which provides specialist freight services to and from mainland Europe, signed up in November 2017.

Having sold shares to an employee ownership trust (EOT) around four and a half years ago, Tony will be exiting the company in around 14 months.

Tony loves that “shared sense of purpose” that comes with employee ownership and has found the Hub useful as he maps out his final few months.

“I have used the EO Hub to get advice or when I’m looking to get someone into my business. The other day I put a question on there saying that I am exiting in 14 months and I can’t help my financial director much with mentoring because I don’t do accounts.

“I asked does anybody know of an FD or an FD mentor and I had four or five people who contacted me, it was brilliant. When I ask something, I always get a reasonable amount of replies, people are very giving of their knowledge.

“You’ve got a group of EOA members that all have the same sort of culture and values, they want to help because we are part of a community, we’ve all got that common purpose.

“It’s a great place where you can connect, build relationships and ask questions, but it’s much more than social media – it’s a place to find loads of really useful resources.

“I suppose the fact you can connect with people might make it look a bit like LinkedIn or Facebook, but if you actually look into the Hub and see what’s in there, there’s a massive catalogue of information. It’s jam-packed with stuff, you just need to spend half an hour looking.

“For what I’m trying to do it’s great because I need to do as much as I can in the next 14 months with lots of subjects around governance and engagement and there’s just loads of stuff on there to help, with templates of how other people have done it.”

Members can access the EO Hub by clicking here >>

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