What happens to an organisation when its ownership is handed over to its employees, how do things change? Seetec Ireland has done just that. On January 10th, we celebrated our second anniversary of employee ownership.
A changeover like this isn’t a simple flick of a switch. It’s a gradual, ongoing journey to convince both people outside and inside the business that this change has more meaning and purpose than a corporate campaign.
Both Ann-Marie Conway, Associate Director of Employee Ownership and Janet Creevy, Business Manager and Employee Council Member have stewarded this change from the beginning. Janet has worked at Seetec for six years, both before employee ownership and after.
Our Two-Year Journey
Janet sits on the employee council along with nine directly elected council members. Their job over the past two years, along with sixty employee champions from across the business, has been to create initiatives to ensure our employee-owners truly know that they own Seetec and what they can do within that framework.
“At first, it didn’t necessarily mean a lot to people working in a large organisation. Some people think, oh that sounds nice, but they don’t know what it all means. The benefits it can bring, all things it can do or in essence, what they can do.”
“Sharing that has been what the past two years have been about. Getting people to see its potential so they get involved in working groups and giving us feedback.”
“Outlining the financial side of things, telling our people they might see dividends in the future if we increase our margins by a certain percentage etcetera is great. But I’m most proud of our changes in communication style and how we transformed our information flow.”
Throughout this entire process, Janet found our employee-owners were most engaged when working out how to make Seetec a better place to be. Most human resources professionals agree that success and satisfaction in the workplace rarely depend solely on financial motivations. It depends on more positive, day to day interactions with our clients and colleagues, which in turn leads to more successful outcomes.
“Our employee advisers are more comfortable, more encouraged to tell us what makes their jobs easier and more effective. They know this feedback has to be taken seriously and actioned. We believe the impact this will have on the services we deliver within our communities will be huge.”
“What do you want your business to look like? This is your business; you own it. What would make your life better, your client’s life better? That’s what I’ve been telling people and asking people for the last two years,” Janet said.
The Next Two Years
Ann-Marie Conway agrees that those are the questions the employee council members and employee champions elected this coming year must continue to ask.
“This has to be an ongoing part of our strategy, ensuring people know just how much power they have to shape the business. We are still working to achieve consistency with this, there are pockets of the business that are highly engaged in the running of our business and there are parts of the business where people aren’t quite as engaged yet.”
“The first two years of employee ownership has been about putting the structure together. We couldn’t come in and layer structure on the organisation and say here you go; this is what employee ownership is going to look like. That’s counterintuitive. We worked with colleagues to build up the structure and we must continue to do so.”
Our colleagues tasked with rolling out this changeover across the organisation believe that the next two years will see our employee owners begin to reap the benefits of this transformation. Seetec’s first employee council, along with all our colleagues, should take great pride in what they have achieved.