In March 2023 I transitioned Absolute PR and Marketing into an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). I did so as I felt now was the time to put in place plans that would ensure Absolute prospers and grows well into the future, whilst preserving longstanding relationships with clients and staff and offering greater opportunities to Absoluters who would uphold our culture and values in years to come.
Why employee ownership was the right choice for Absolute
Absolute is a purpose driven agency, with culture and sustainability at the heart of what we do, so who better to lead Absolute forward than the employees who have been a part of shaping Absolute over the past 23 years? By transitioning to an EOT, we are creating a culture where every employee feels a sense of ownership and is actively invested in the success of the agency.
Absolute promotes a non-hierarchical structure where every team member is valued for their contribution, where our values-led culture is centred around teamwork and collaboration. With the transition to an EOT, we’re further cementing this dynamic and inclusive way of working into the core of our agency, ensuring it remains a key feature of how Absolute is managed going forward.
An EOT structure ensures that employees have a stake in the company’s performance, leading to increased motivation, commitment, and engagement. It encourages a shared vision and a collaborative mindset, where everyone understands the importance of their contribution.
We aren’t alone in viewing employee ownership as the way forward for purpose-driven businesses.
In the past year over 1400 UK businesses transitioned to an EOT. This reflects a growing trend of business owners who are beginning to plan for the long-term success of their business, creating a long-standing legacy for future generations by entrusting employees to carry forward the company’s culture and values.
What’s more, a significant proportion of employee-owned businesses share our passion for purpose. Just under 10% of B Corp businesses are employee owned, despite EOTs making up just 1-in-20 of all private company sales.
Our long-term plans for employee ownership will ensure that Absolute remains firmly in the hands of a team that drives the business forward every day and shares an on-going passion and commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices.
After 23 years at the helm of Absolute, naturally it was important to consider the future and what it might look like when I want to retire. And whilst I have no intention of relinquishing my role as managing director of Absolute in the foreseeable future, transitioning to an EOT offered a solution for succession planning and a gradual exit strategy for me, ensuring continuity and stability for the business. Instead of selling to an MBO or external parties, an EOT provides a seamless transfer of ownership which will preserve the company’s values and culture.
Enhanced Company Performance
Studies have shown that employee-owned businesses tend to outperform their peers in terms of productivity, profitability and longevity. By giving employees a greater sense of ownership and involvement in decision making, an EOT empowers them to contribute their unique insights, creativity and problem-solving skills. My hope is that this collective effort will lead to improved performance, innovation, and a stronger competitive edge.
Social Responsibility and Ethical Business Practices
With Absolute’s focus on sustainability, transitioning to an EOT also aligns with our principles of social responsibility and ethical business practices. It reflects a commitment to fair wealth distribution, employee wellbeing and sustainable business practices. We hope to attract more clients, partners and employees who share our values as a business that prioritises social impact and shared prosperity.
Whilst it’s still early days, already we can see changes in attitudes, with members of the team taking greater responsibility and ownership of decision making. But cultures don’t change overnight, so my focus over the coming months will be developing a successful culture of ownership and facilitating smooth succession planning for the future.
As business owners, it is essential to consider alternative ownership models that promote a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and power. The Employee Ownership Trust has proved to be a compelling option for Absolute and I encourage others to explore this model to create a brighter, more inclusive future for their businesses.
By Rachael, Managing Director and Founder, Absolute PR and Marketing