UK EO Awards: DNA that drives a culture of success

The first ever Employee Ownership Culture Award winner is a business with a clearly defined spirit and unique DNA, concluded the UK Employee Ownership Award 2018 judges.

The award celebrates Sheffield-based manufacturer Gripple, a business in which employees feel a substantial, personal stake in performance and are empowered to act in ways that show measurable benefits.

The market-leading manufacturer of wire joining and tensioning devices for construction and agricultural markets, Gripple, was established in the 1990s with its employee ownership being formalised when GLIDE – its share ownership model and holding company – was established in 2011 to allow its founding chairman, Hugh Facey, to pass ownership to the employees.

Today the business is a global success employing more than 670 employee owners, manufacturing 6,000 products and exporting 85% of its trade to 80 countries.

The business’ focus on transparency, two-way communication and recruitment and retention, has seen it define the ‘Gripple Spirit’ – its values – and the ‘Gripple Person’ – a set of behaviours – to ensure it recruits, trains and engages for success, recently launching its own training academy with investment in training averaging 1.8 days per head per year.

Its culture of recognition and reward extends to the internal talent pipelines which were responsible for intern Ed Stubbs working his way up to being the current Gripple MD by the age of 32.

Judge Nicola Ryan, Head of People’s Services for Rowlinson Knitwear, said: “Gripple is a great example of a direct employee ownership model working in practice, with lots of internal measures and positive communication of business aims and successes with a clear impact on the individual’s ability to make a positive contribution.”

Evidence of the culture empowering its employees included how one of its sales managers now leads a £3m division after identifying a new market for the business while visiting a customer, a 98.2% global employee attendance and recording its highest ever sales turnover of more than £67m resulting its employees sharing in their biggest dividend payout to date.

Judge Rhian Edwards, Project Manager of Social Business Wales, Wales Co-operative Centre, said:

“Gripple uses both engagement mechanisms and the physical set up of offices to ensure a strong employee ownership culture across its global sites. It invests in future leaders to ensure the culture of employee ownership remains strong as the business evolves and grows and has been successful in ensuring an employee ownership culture on a global scale which is a real achievement.”