Sawday’s is a travel business which locates special places to stay. They have around 60 employees and are based in Bristol. At the beginning of 2018, a majority stake in the business was sold to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

A new MD, Mike Bevens, was appointed. Since his appointment, Mike has been working hard to help the employees understand employee ownership, and to help them to thrive in that environment. We at the Eternal Business have provided some help to Mike and his leadership team.

In 2018 we got in touch with Bristol University and asked them if they would be interested in conducting some research on our behalf. Curious to know about employee ownership and to be at the cutting edge of research into the concept, they agreed, and Sawday’s kindly agreed to be the subject matter.

We will be reporting more on the results of this research, as it comes to fruition. However, there is one statistic from the business which demonstrates the positive effect of being owned by an EOT.

For many years Sawday’s have regularly surveyed their employees to monitor their employee engagement. This system provides a ‘Net Promoter Score’ with a range from -100 to +100.

The specific question relating to employee engagement was ‘How likely is it you would recommend Sawday’s as a place to work?’ The survey which was conducted in November 2017 – just before the announcement of the sale to the EOT – gave a score of 40.

The latest survey which was held this summer – 18 months after the sale – gave a score of 61. An increase of 21 points.

What is perhaps even more striking is that the participation in the survey increased from 57% to a whopping 96%.

As Mike says, “21 points is a significant shift in scores, which I think says a lot about being owned by an EOT.” To have 55 out of 58 employees feel so engaged in their business that they want to provide feedback is surely also testament both to the positive effect of the activity of Mike and his leadership team.

The message is twofold. Firstly, the EOT is a great way of engaging employees and helping owners to leave a legacy of their business.

The extra message, however, is that employee engagement doesn’t just happen by itself! It takes continual work and planning in order to encourage employees to feel that they truly are a part of the business.

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