How we help to spread the word about employee ownership

To mark EO Day (Employee Ownership) Day on Friday (23rd June), we’re running a series of blogs this week that focus on different aspects of employee ownership.

In this blog, Michael Hodgson, Chair of GLIDE, the employee ownership member organisation representing shareholders at Gripple, looks at the support that Gripple gives to other businesses as an EO Ambassador.

So, Michael, why does Gripple support other businesses to become Employee Owned?

As Gripple has been an employee-owned business for almost 30 years, we are in a great position to help, encourage and support other businesses looking to transition to employee ownership. Our Group Managing Director Ed Stubbs is on the board of the EOA (Employee Ownership Association), and we are committed to helping other businesses embark on this journey; it’s part of our responsibility to ensure we support the growth of the sector in the UK and beyond.

How does Gripple help other businesses looking to make the transition?

We regularly host businesses at Gripple and discuss the practicalities of how they can move to an EO model, whether they are just at the early stages of the journey, or are already fully committed.  Many businesses find it enormously helpful to hear from other businesses about the benefits they experience.

GLIDE (Growth Led Innovation Driven Employee company) represents all the shareholder members who work at Gripple and our partner companies (Loadhog and GoTools). 

When businesses visit us to find out more, we explain how our EO model works and how we make sure the culture is lived and breathed throughout the company. Businesses often take a tour of our premises and visit GLIDE House, as well as having the opportunity to ask specific questions and speak to our employee owners, which makes a big difference in their decision to transition to an EO model.

Alongside these visits, we are also involved with hosting EO council events, board meetings, putting forward speakers at conferences, regional networking events and supporting the work of the South Yorkshire Ownership Hub.

Through GLIDE, we have 42 employee representatives on the board, from Gripple and our partner businesses, across the globe. The Board meets three times per year here in Sheffield and their role is to hold the business to account on performance.

As a business, we have four guiding principles:

  • Minimum growth of 10-15% every year
  • 20% of turnover annually should come from products less than 5 years old
  • Donate 1% of pre-tax budgeted profit to charity/community projects
  • Support the Employee Ownership sector.

Do you get involved in EO on an international level?

Gripple is a fully employee-owned business and that includes our territories outside the UK. We attended the USA’s NCEO (National Center for Employee Ownership) conference in Kansas City in April, and we’re members of the Canadian ESOP Association as well.

What types of businesses have you helped? Has it just been in South Yorkshire?

We have helped many businesses in South Yorkshire, particularly due to referrals from the Ownership Hub, based at SYMCA (South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority), which has the remit to promote the adoption of worker and employee ownership across the region. Recently this has included supporting companies such as Global Windows, Essential Recruitment and Galaxy Insulation.

We also support national businesses, such as Go Ape, the outdoors activity company with 34 locations across the UK, which is making the transition over to EO.

What does working for an EO business mean to employees?

All our employees are required to invest in a financial stake in the company within the first year of working here. As a result, all employees can influence the business, are responsible for its growth and success and all have the security that the business can never be sold. This ensures that our manufacturing base remains in Sheffield and that we continue to create values for our people and communities. 

We’ve done lots of research with our employees about what being part of an EO business means to them.  One of our Team Leaders, Liz Lake, described it like this:

“ of the things that it really helps with is that all my team are really engaged. It's easy for me to ask things of them, and to explain changes and new processes, because it benefits all of us.

From that point of view, it makes a massive difference for me [as a team leader]. I don't have to ‘sell’ things to people – they already understand. And if they don't understand, I can show them, I can explain to them, how this will be better for us. It's our business. I’ve also found a new confidence in myself, because my voice is listened to..."

How is Gripple spreading the message on EO Day?

EO (Employee Ownership) Day, which is coming up this week (23rd June) is celebrated by employee owners, EO businesses and supports across to UK to raise awareness of the benefits and impact of employee ownership.

We are delighted to be hosting the 11th annual EO day at our premises at GLIDE House in Sheffield, in association with the EOA (Employee Ownership Association) and The Ownership Hub in South Yorkshire. It is a fantastic way to show our commitment to employee ownership and to demonstrate to other businesses the very many benefits it brings.

For more information about Employee Ownership please visit

Tags: Corporate

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