Posted on: 8th August 2023


We’re only in the early stages of being a majority employee-owned (EO) business. In January 2023 we became 51% employee owned (having previously only been 10%) and since then we have been making steps towards a new way of working. It’s a steep learning curve for any organisation that becomes employee owned. It’s not just about sharing in the profits of the company, it’s about a change in the way we contribute to our workplace, a change in the way we think about structures, governance and how to solve problems.

This new way of thinking and working needs time to embed itself into the culture of the company. As Carpenter Oak Co-owners we’re now empowered to have more of a say and make changes. Most businesses are owned by an individual/s and the structure is very much top down but in EO organisations employees are able to use their voices and make an impact.

Of course, as Co-owners, we can be as involved as we’re comfortable with. We can choose how much we want to contribute – if we want to simply turn up to work, do our work (well) and leave that’s fine. But we now have the opportunity to really make a change. We have a voice now and if we see a problem, we can make a real change and help towards a solution.

What’s already been done since becoming EO?

In the past 8 months there have already been some positive changes such as an enhanced Paternity Leave policy. We’ve created an EO forum with a committee who come together with feedback from their ‘constituents’ in the business. We now have a social committee who are busy organising some great social events for Co-owners, including family events. There’s a more focussed and comprehensive internal communication strategy, and we’re striving for more transparency and knowledge throughout the business (for example being more informed about finance or business strategy).

Next steps…

As well as continuing with the transparency and sharing of knowledge across the business, there will be further practical changes implemented such as new or improved policies, and the workplace environment – improving some of the shared areas.

We’ll continue with meetings between constituents and reps, ensuring these happen on a regular basis and we tackle some real issues across the business, allowing Co-owners to voice their opinions and come up with practical answers.

We’re also planning a company wide event for later in the year which will mean our team in Scotland join our Devon based team for an EO themed celebration!

What’s important is to make sure our colleagues are engaged and happy. We’ve benchmarked how Co-owners feel about certain aspects of working for Carpenter Oak and we will implement a strategy over the coming 12 months in areas that need improvement.

As an organisation we’re going through a transition and there is a lot for us all to do. There’s still a lot to learn and this new way of working will take time to embed, but it’s an exciting time for Carpenter Oak!


Find out more about employee ownership with the Employee Ownership Association.