Employees as Owners

In 2006/2007, a merger between Nation Publishing in Barbados and the CCN Group of Companies in Trinidad and Tobago occurred. While there were naysayers (as there are in almost every organisation) and some who constantly complained about the combined power of the now OCM (One Caribbean Media) Group, I observed a fascinating culture shift, of which I was happy to be a part.

After the merger, employees were given the opportunity to own a part of the company. This was not the case prior. A difference in attitudes could have almost immediately been detected. When employees purchased shares in OCM, or whenever they were awarded shares as a bonus option, there was an extra 'pep' in their step; they now felt as if they mattered more; and as part owners, now had a direct interest in the way the company operated. Of course, with all mergers there would be teething issues, but this perspective deals with the difference between an employee as an employee only; and an employee who has a stake in his company's success.

This is not new. There are a few examples for reference:

Starbucks: Employees are referred to as "partners" and even part-time "partners" are given medical and profit-sharing benefits.

Amazon: Employees are able to buy into the company's explosive growth by means of participation in a stock purchase plan.

Southwest Airlines: Employees own almost ten percent of this company. There is also a profit sharing plan, along with the stock purchase plan. This company consistently ranks as "one of the best places to work." (Reference link)

If you're an employer, you may have the power to change an entire culture (which is not an easy thing to do) by empowering staff with high performance drivers. That's one of the ways I became a shareholder in the OCM Network...and down to this day, still check on the financial well-being of that company on a weekly basis. Of course, offering part-ownership options is ONE way to generate more excitement and loyalty. There are many other ways, but I thought I'd share this particular observation with you, just for today.

-Lots of love & good vibes, Veoma Ali

Veoma Ali is an Advertising Executive, with a Ph.D in Communications and a Masters in Business Administration.