Look at the most recent list of the “15 Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production,” and you’ll see something noteworthy: a strong showing by ESOP companies.
Both W.L. Gore (holding down the 6th spot on the list) and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (at number 12) are ESOP companies and members of The ESOP Association.
And neither company is a stranger to such accolades. Schweitzer Engineering was named to the same list in 2015. Gore has been named six times to various lists—all of which are compiled by the Great Place to Work Institute and rely heavily on anonymous employee surveys.
The results from those surveys suggest that both of the ESOP companies that were honored have succeeded at creating safe, trustworthy environments. High percentages of employee owners (97 percent for Gore, 95 percent for Schweitzer) felt the business was a safe place to work. At both firms, 94 percent of employee owners felt layoffs would occur only as a last resort.
(As we pointed out in a recent post, when companies create a sense of safety and job security, greater employee innovation among may result.)
The findings from the Great Place to Work surveys match up well with data on employee owned firms as a whole.
At The ESOP Association’s Conference in Las Vegas last fall, Rutgers Professor Douglas Kruse shared 2014 data showing that in the prior year, employee-owned companies were 7.3 times less likely to lay off staff than conventionally-owned businesses. What’s more, employee owners are more likely to feel their colleagues can be relied on for help and to work hard. And if their colleagues aren’t working well, employee owners are more likely to approach them about their efforts.