Employee Ownership:  A Co-Worker’s Perspective

 

As a co-worker at an employee owned company I have seen firsthand how employee ownership is good for co-workers and the community. This is especially true when it is coupled with the business practices that go along with offering employees a stake in the company. From open book management to offering generous benefits, to having a core value of open and honest communication there is an infrastructure in successful employee owned companies that allow for the full power of collective ownership to be unleashed.

My journey to an entry level position at New Belgium Brewing Company took me into the tasting room: pouring beer and giving tours to locals and tourists fired up about the craft beer movement. It was an amazingly fun way to spend my work days. In addition to being fun, I was pushed in ways that I had not imagined a tasting room co-worker would be pushed. It is assumed at New Belgium that each co-worker will have a basic business literacy. It is assumed that co-workers will think critically about each one’s respective role and how it fits into the overall business. And there is the infrastructure to support those assumptions.

Regular meetings with management to keep professional goals on track, a robust training program, encouragement to ask questions, trust others and clear values about who we are as a community all contribute to making sure that we’re aligned as a company. This support furthers both the co-worker and the overall company success.

A STAKE IN THE OUTCOME

From my perspective as a co-worker the business acumen that I’ve been taught has opened up new opportunities. From tasting room co-worker to manager, and now as a professional in government affairs, the employee ownership model has expanded my professional horizons. To be sure, I’ve worked hard to advance my own career, however, I don’t think that I would have had the same opportunities for growth had I landed somewhere that wasn’t a part of the employee ownership model.

The expectations for growth that I felt upon entering New Belgium and continue to feel now are a key component, in my opinion, of any successful organization. I have a stake in the overall outcome, therefore I take my own and my co-workers professional development seriously.  That’s a piece of motivation that excites me – I know that my co-workers are advancing themselves for the sake of all of us too. This is the sweet spot for employee owned companies: going to work every day at a place where we have a stake in the outcome and a stake in how we get there.

Andrew Lemley is the Government Affairs Emissary for New Belgium Brewing Company, Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center board member and proud employee owner.