What does it mean to be an employee director at an employee owned company?

By Ian Garratt, Technical Project Lead & Employee Director, Voice Technologies

Posted on June 09, 2022

In the spring of 2022, I became an Employee Director at Voice Technologies – an employee-owned software provider and the company I’ve worked at for 10 years, first as a Technical Support Engineer and now as Technical Project Lead.

Friends and colleagues have asked me why I took on the position of an Employee Director, so I thought it’d be helpful to share some insights for anyone considering stepping to the employee director role.

What is an employee director?

An employee director is a member of the team who is nominated, by the employees, to sit on the company board of directors to act as a focal point for the employees. It’s a key role in the employee owned company business model and really demonstrates the company’s determination to be inclusive by breaking down barriers between the board and employees which can be an issue, perceived or real, in other organisations.

What are your responsibilities as an employee director?

Facilitating communication between the board and company employees is a key aspect of the employee director role. I liaise with the company board and employees so that the team has sight of company current projects, finances and future plans. I participate in company board meetings and arrange and present at Employee Benefit Trust (EBT) meetings, relaying company information and updates back to colleagues.

How is an employee director appointed/elected?

Employees who are interested in fulfilling the role put themselves forward as nominees, and the employee director is then elected via a vote carried out by the employees of the company.

What’s the difference between an employee director and, say, a trade union representative in a non-employee owned company?

Part of being employee owned is that everyone in the company has a voice and there’s genuinely two-way communication between the board and employees. At Voice Technologies, we’re all aware of what’s happening within the company, from everyday activities to future plans and we’re involved in the processes and decisions that affect our working lives. I guess this role is quite unique as I don’t think there would be a similar role in other companies with this level of insight and involvement in company activities.

What made you want to become an employee director at Voice Technologies?

I liked the idea of having extra involvement in company activities and ability help with future growth of the organisation. Also, providing a focal point for employees’ suggestions appealed to me. Typically, in other companies, employee voices are rarely heard.

What’s your favourite thing about being an employee director at Voice Technologies?

Having a sense of responsibility that that you are a focal point for your colleagues in company decisions and future plans.

Voice Technologies is a member of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) which represents organisations that are employee owned, or transitioning to employee ownership, across the UK.

The EOA seeks to shape the tax and legal environment on behalf of members by influencing policy makers, the media, Government and a range of other audiences.

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