25 June 2021 marked my first EO day. As a relatively new employee at Castlefeld, and having never worked for an employee-owned organisation, I hadn’t experienced EO day before - so was unsure what all the fuss was about.
To give some way of an explanation, employee ownership (EO) day is an annual celebration of all things to do with employee ownership. Across the country, thousands of employee owners, EO businesses and supporters come together to raise awareness of the benefits of employee ownership.
2021 was the ninth annual EO day. Given the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, celebrations for EO day happened digitally for only the second time.
For Castlefield co-owners, our festivities involved a full week of different activities and culminated in a day of celebration shared with other EO organisations across social media. This typically reaches over 1 million people across Twitter and LinkedIn.
The day before EO day, everyone from the company gathered online for an update on the company’s progress. We call this one of the HAWD – how are we doing - sessions. It’s a regular presentation from John, our managing partner, where he updates all of us on the most recent period. At many companies, it isn’t typical for senior management to share financial details and consult on future plans with all members of staff – another benefit of EO. This presentation also featured a couple of other senior co-owners providing information on our financial performance and future projects, and also to announce the Core Award winner (for delivering excellence against the company’s core values). The session was made even more enjoyable as each co-owner had accepted delivery of a personalised hamper, complete with gorgeous organic tea, handmade scones and the finest clotted cream!
EO day itself involved an online escape room, where teams of Castlefield co-owners had to solve an imaginary murder that took place onboard a private aircraft. This started reasonably easy but got progressively more difficult. Fortunately, no one was locked in at the end.
With online remote working becoming the new norm following Covid 19 measures, we all partook in a ‘guess the desk’ competition, where most co-owners had submitted a photo of their desk for teams to identify. This gave a really interesting insight into people’s home office setup, their organisation skills and their general personality. Thankfully, a few clues had been left in to make it easier to identify them!
One of the nationally-organised activities was a scheduled ‘thunderclap’ - where all EO businesses were encouraged to tweet, post and share simultaneously on social media about the benefits of being employee owned.
For us, this meant sharing positive benefits such as feeling valued, inclusivity, respect and employee well-being. Even in these difficult times, with remote working and a lack of face to face interaction, EO day offered a togetherness and team spirit that I haven’t experienced while working anywhere else before.
The values we share aren’t aspirational words emblazoned on a wall or imposed by an authoritative individual, they’re embedded within the organisation for all to see, and lived and breathed on a daily basis. All co-owners truly do care about the business, its clients and their fellow colleagues. I’m already looking forward to next year’s EO day. Hopefully I may get to meet more of my fellow co-owners in person.
Written by Nathan Cameron