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On Tuesday 14 January, the Cass Business School published a report which identified that employee owned businesses (EOBs) fair better in tough economic times than non-EOBs.

The report, ‘Does employee ownership confer long-term resilience’ is an update from research conducted in 2010. It serves as a wake-up call to business leaders wanting to survive tough economic times and increased competition.

The report found that EOBs have the ability to maintain top-line financial performance while simultaneously maintaining high employment levels. It identified that EOBs view employees as their greatest asset, with employee commitment acting as a central advantage to business performance.

In addition, differences in the objectives of EOBs and non-EOBs were detected. The freedom from external shareholders’ expectations allows EOBs to pursue other non-economic goals.

But what do these findings have to do with the energy industry?

At Accord Energy Solutions, we have found the employee ownership model integral to our success, allowing us to thrive through a difficult economic climate and beat constant competition from other companies.

We are a hydrocarbon accounting consultancy and depend on our employees’ knowledge and skills. Hydrocarbon allocation is a vital part of the energy industry.

It is important that we attract and retain the best talent to help us survive and ensure we give our clients the best service. Since day one, we have attracted the right talented professionals for our business at a rapid pace. Many of these individuals have been attracted by the employee ownership model.

A positive working culture is embedded within the company and we make every effort to treat employees in the way they would be treated if they owned the company, which they will one day.

The business model has undoubtedly bolstered our financial success. In 2013, we recorded a 38 per cent increase in turnover to £4.3 million which has set us well on our way to reach our target £5 million by 2015.

There has never been a better time for energy companies to switch to an employee ownership model. The UK and Scottish Governments have been voicing their support for employee ownership and are making promising practical moves to ensure the model is easier for non-EOBs to adopt.

Competition for business and employees is only going to increase and a strong financial performance has never been more important. Business leaders should wake up to what this report is saying and understand that employee ownership is an aspirational model for business success.”

Alan Spence is a founding director of Accord Energy Solutions

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