Why BPR Chose Employee Ownership

With the recent publication of The Employee Ownership Association's 'Ownership Dividend', this Insight explains why adopting the employee ownership model was such a good fit for bpr and how becoming employee-owned has improved the way we are doing business.

The Ownership Dividend - #OwnershipDividend

In July 2017, Lizzie Hinton (formerly Dodwell), contributed to the Ownership Effect Inquiry as a panellist for the debate: The role of employee ownership in supporting business succession planning. An employee at bpr since 2013 and the first employee representative of bpr trustees, Lizzie was able to give an account of our journey into becoming an employee owned practice. As a millenial, she effectively communicated the challenges facing the next generation - from student loans to rising housing costs and how employee ownership removes the financial barrier for her generation's future potential as business owners.

Further information on The Ownership Effect hearing can be found at http://theownershipeffect.co.uk/

The 27th June 2018 saw the release of the Ownership Dividend - the results of the Ownership Effect Inquiry, which sets out three clear messages for how the Ownership Dividend can deliver a more productive and inclusive economy:

  1. Improving UK productivity
  2. Resilient regional economies
  3. More engaged employees

We at bpr architects, feel honoured to have contributed to the Ownership Effect Inquiry and welcome the EOA's Ownership Dividend report in which it states that - 'the panel's conclusion is clear: there is a significant dividend to be obtained by growing employee ownership in our economy.'
You can read the full report here: https://issuu.com/revistabibliodiversidad/docs/eoa_full_book

In January 2018, Paul Beaty-Pownall, Managing Director of bpr architects, was consulted by the Architects' Journal regarding employee ownership in an article entitled: Power to the people: the rise of the employee owned practice, in which he expanded on this theme. 'I was always a bit uncomfortable that those who felt wealthy enough would be able to buy into the business. It didn't convince me that the right people would end up running the business.'
View the full article: [https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Power+to+the+people%3A+the+rise+of+the+employee+owned+practice%E2%...]

Values and culture

There are many ways to structure employee owned companies. At bpr architects we have 100% of the company's shares held in trust. This has supported our strong ethical values being upheld and created a better balance between our profits and our people. The culture within the practice is open and honest and there is more accountability for directors to other parties in the business.

Our approach is focused on the long-term aspirations of the practice and encourages innovation. Our engaged and committed staff drive the focus on improving quality and on a daily basis, problems are shared and overcome together improving both the creativity and the efficiency of our work.

We value employee contribution and collaboration internally and welcome the opportunity to use these attributes externally. We like to share our knowledge on a wider stage to benefit others from our learning. We are always happy to talk to other practices who are considering the move into employee ownership and to share our story.

As we celebrate Employee Ownership Day on 29th June 2018, we reflect on these themes and how we can contribute better to this dividend as an employee-owned practice.

Employee Ownership – A collaborative way of doing business

With the transition into an Employee Owned Practice, many of the attributes of bpr architects' day-to-day management were formalised into a new collaborative arrangement. bpr trustees ltd was set up to ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the beneficiaries now and in the future. This structure allows all employees to have an active participation in the success of the business. When the business does well, everyone at bpr architect’s benefits. Likewise, the risks of the company are shared amongst all the employees. bpr trustees ltd has 3 directors at any one time comprising one of the current directors of bpr architects ltd; one of the employees of bpr and one external third-party director who is chosen by the directors of bpr architects ltd. Both the director representative and employee representative roles rotate on a three year basis to allow maximum involvement throughout the company. The employee representative is self-nominated and elected through an anonymous vote by the employees. This provides bpr architects with a forum through which employees can voice their opinions about the management and running of the practice. With the launch of the employee owned business, bpr architects took the opportunity to re-align it in a way which would further allow all employees to contribute. A system of ‘management groups’ across seven areas of the business has been established, through which all staff contribute to the daily maintenance and progression of the company; from premises matters though to the culture of the practice. The development of BIM over recent years and expansion in more collaborative ways of working, fits well with our structure and internal processes and is also reflected in our external relationship with clients and project teams. Employee ownership has provided us with the ideal platform for our dynamic and agile group of professionals to develop their careers alongside the business and to respond rapidly to changing environments.

Learn more about the benefits of employee ownership: