To Celebrate EO day in June 2022, the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) launched their EO stories. EO Stories celebrates the stories of employee-owned businesses and the impacts they are having on employees, the performance of the business, and on the economy and society.
This year story submissions are focussed on the three pillars of developing an impactful employee ownership culture. To support the EOA in this we are sharing the story of a Welsh business, Itec Training Solutions, that we worked with on their transition into employee ownership.
Itec Training Solutions
Itec was founded 40-years ago and now operates across 17 sites in Wales and England, with their head office in Cardiff, employing over 165 staff directly with an additional 180 staff employed by their supply chain.
Itec is a leading provider of work-based programmes and commercial training, being one of the most vocationally diverse independent training providers.
In 2019, as part of our ongoing strategy to place our people at the centre of our business and to preserve the company as an independent organisation, the owners of Itec, Steve Doyle and Ceri Murphy, transferred Itec Training Solutions Holding shares into an employee ownership trust (EOT) to give its employees an equal stake in the ownership and success of the business. Senior managers hold 13% of shares with 87% of shares in the employee ownership trust. Our Board of Trustees comprises of six members, including an independent trustee who provides a challenge to the Board on decisions, ensuring they benefit all employees.
The decision to adopt an employee ownership structure has enabled us to build on our employee-focused ethos, with our people at the heart of the company, safeguarding our independence, with the company’s future firmly in the hands of those who share the same values, ethos, and visions of its founders.
Being employee owned has allowed our employees to have greater engagement and ownership in our future growth and success, embracing and enhancing their passion for the work we do, increasing the level of collaborative working, whilst helping each other and the business to succeed.
We recognise that all our employees play a part in our success, with employee voice being critical for effective employee engagement, with attention and resources dedicated to facilitating this.
How we communicate and engage with employees to deliver successful outcomes
We aim to ensure that effective engagement and communication are embedded throughout the organisation, with a clear approach to constant, open and honest communication across all levels, with employees having a clear understanding of the company’s vision, values, and business goals, and how they personally contribute to Itec’s success.
To support our lived values and culture of empowering and engaging our workforce to have a voice in the business, we built on our employee voice strategy by establishing an employee forum to help channel ideas of continuous improvement and innovation, contribute to decision making and gain access to employee knowledge/expertise to support the evolution of our business.
Our two-way dialogue, communication and engagement have been essential to our success as it ensures:
- everyone is encouraged to contribute to improving business performance and work towards the same goals
- employees feel well-informed about what is happening in the organisation
- employees understand and are committed to the team and organisational success
- the interchange of information, performance, and updates
- consultation and involvement in decision making from employees
- employees are enabled to perform well and develop their job role
- our commitment to employee’s health and wellbeing
Our Employee Forum has helped to:
- strengthen trust between managers and employees
- generate ideas and get feedback in a confidential environment
- improve staff performance, engagement, productivity, and wellbeing
- support decisions being made in consultation with employee involvement
- make decisions in a way that reduces the risk of disagreement later.
Our employee voice enables two-way communication, promotes and supports employee contribution and collaboration, and provides momentum behind developments as well as gaining support for change.
Our mechanisms for effective engagement and communication
- Regular 1-2-1 reviews and appraisals
- Team meetings/briefings
- Transparency and approachable, open-door ethos
- Induction, Continual Professional Development programmes and best practice (standardisation) meetings
- Suggestion schemes, via wellbeing email, employee surveys, employee nominated charity
- Internal newsletters and social media sharing updates and good news
- Employee Forum representatives
- Meet your new colleagues’ profiles
- Disseminating business changes/updates via People HR system, email, and the forum
- Project/task-finish groups
- Staff social events, including our Seren Awards (employee recognition awards)
- Thank you praise and commendation via our PeopleHR software system.
Successful impact and influence on the business
- Increased our workforce by 16.5% since February 2019 and are actively recruiting more people to join our team due to business growth and to support future growth plans.
- Supporting the local economy, by increasing our supply chain partners, predominately SME business from 6 to 12 providers in the last 12 months.
- Secured new primary contracts in the past 18 months with a forecast value of £62m over the next four years: Restart (supporting long-term unemployed into work), Jobs Growth Wales Plus (supporting 16–18-year-olds into employment, higher-level learning and apprenticeships) and Apprenticeships.
- Supporting 1,087 long-term unemployed into jobs since July 2019.
- Supporting 3,200 learners through apprenticeship qualifications since August 2019.
- Increased group profitability by 21.5% from 2020 to 2021.
- Employee forum introduced and has led on business-wide improvements including: enhanced employee benefits, reviewing our core values, vision and our new leadership model and supporting our carbon reduction plan.
- Since becoming employee owned, we have financially recognised our eligible employee’s contribution to the company’s success through a profit distribution equal to 6% of their annual salary, for the last three consecutive years.
- Increase employee engagement/satisfaction, evidenced through our annual employee survey, with the latest results (November 2021) showing: 43 out of 59 questions showed a positive improvement year on year; 50 out of 59 questions rated by over 80%+ of employees as positive strongly agree/agree on satisfaction rates; 97.42% strongly agree/agree “I know and understand the organisation’s strategy, vision, aims and objectives”; 98.28% strongly agree/agree “I know how I and my work contributes to achieving the aims and objectives of the organisation”; 99.14% strongly agree/agree that “I am committed to the success of the organisation.”
- Elevated our Investors in People status from Silver to Gold, December 2021.
- Achieved Investors in Families Lockdown Award, October 2021.
- Awarded Disability Confident Leader Level 3, September 2021.
- Achieved Matrix Standards: June 2021 (International quality standard for information, advice and/or guidance).