July 14, 2020

Ownership Culture Insights: Blind Spots in Information and Learning

Director of Culture and Engagement

In this new series of NCEO blog posts, I will explore interesting ownership culture insights on what the NCEO has learned over the years from companies, their stories, practices, and a wealth of survey data collected from employee-owners across the country. I will explore common challenges, best practices, and learn about what employees truly value when it comes to creating a workplace that thrives on ownership thinking.


Ownership Culture Insights logo

While in conversation about the results of the Ownership Culture Survey with an ESOP company in 2016, I asked the leadership team and ESOP committee, “How much information do you share with employees?” Their answer was, “Probably not enough…” The survey results seemed to suggest they were right. Less than 35% of employees agreed that they had access to all the company information they thought they needed. At another ESOP company, supervisors’ responses were more than 15% more positive than non-supervisors’ responses regarding opportunities for employees to learn about the business. This is not an uncommon experience. Often times, people in management or supervisory roles have more opportunities to learn about the business and typically have more access to information as a function of their position. We may not even realize that employees want more information until we ask about such things. 

A number of companies would like employees to think and act like owners, but not all of them are putting in the time and effort to provide employees with the tools that enable such thinking.

Some of the most successful ESOP companies ask themselves how they can more effectively and regularly share all types of information with employees. Creating more learning opportunities and granting further access to important information and the key drivers of company success can significantly improve employee perspectives and your culture overall. It may be one thing to share with employees what helps the company make money, but are you also helping them understand what contributes to company losses? Do employees understand the relationship between profitability and the value of their ESOP accounts? Do employees know how stock value is even determined?

Company information is a lot like the keys to your building. It can be pretty hard to feel like the owner of something when you constantly feel locked out. Giving employees the keys to drive their own success is also a lot like giving them the keys to the shop in that both create a greater sense of mutually shared trust in the company, in the ESOP, and, perhaps most importantly, in each other.