SA Group has been proudly employee-owned since October 2021.
The company solves critical challenges by designing, implementing and supporting IT and communications infrastructure, and boasts a wide range of in-house skills including Systems Engineers, Agile Project Managers, Technical Architects and Cyber Security Advisors.
Founders of SA Group Steve and Adella Jackson considered a range of succession options, but employee ownership was the clear favourite due to the number of benefits. Safeguarding the vision and culture of the business was a key factor in their decision, along with maintaining the brand identity, and creating an incentive for employees to be engaged in the growth of the business.
Steve Jackson continues as CEO and said: “The success of the company so far is down to our loyal and hardworking team, so it was an easy decision to transfer the company across to them. Seeing the business continue is incredibly important to me, along with looking after our clients whilst continuing to pursue our vision to enable the future of secure communication with digital expertise.”
Benefits of employee ownership
SA Group have adopted an employee ownership model which complements the values that the company was founded on, and has pursued over the past 14 years. This includes our willingness to innovate and improve, the accumulation of high-quality people with diverse backgrounds, and the continuation of long-term relationships of trust with our clients.
The company regularly gathers feedback from employees, and the general consensus is that the EOT has been an extremely positive move, offering commercial as well as emotional benefits. This includes higher productivity and morale, greater resilience and lower attrition. SA Group recognises that their EOT model will grow and develop as the company increases in size.
It is a gathering movement, protecting and enhancing the valuable culture and ethos of the business, as well as offering the following additional benefits:
- Retention of independence and principles
- Tax-free bonuses
- Ensures our culture and values live on
- Risk free for employees – no monetary contribution is required
- Brand value and reputation retained
- A fair sales value for the owners
- Employees as stakeholders with a voice in the business
- Allows the founder to leave a legacy
- Encourages a long-term view
The Trustee Board
Consisting of two Trustees elected by the employees, the trust board operates in the best interests of the employees, and also includes an independent chair.
Trustee Director Karen Briddon said: “I feel very privileged to be part of SA Group and have enjoyed seeing the company become an EOT. I am keen to ensure that the employee’s interests are represented at EOT meetings.”
SA Group continues to have a conventional board, strengthened by a non-executive director and an employee council.
Other employee-owned companies
Employee ownership is becoming more popular – as of December 2022 there were over 1300 employee-owned companies in the UK, including some well-known companies detailed below. Half that growth has been since 2014, when the government introduced Employee Ownership Trust tax incentives.
The most widely used example is the John Lewis Partnership, a good model of how employee ownership can be combined with conventional management structure to achieve both commercial success and accountability to founding values.
- John Lewis Partnership – employee owned since 1929
- Wilkin and Sons – employee owned since 1989
- Riverford Organic – employee owned since 2018