Americans Want Employee Ownership

It’s no surprise that Americans disagree about a lot of things….

Just try getting consensus on a group of people’s preference for cats or dogs, pie flavors or person most likely to take the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones. Close to impossible.

However, in new research released in May, funded by the Employee Ownership Foundation, and conducted by Rutgers researchers, it has become clear that the one thing we can all agree on is that we want to work for a company owned by its employees.

Nearly three-fourths of respondents (72 percent) to the General Social Survey would rather work for an employee-owned company than one owned by conventional shareholders or the government. 

The research also reveled that employee owned businesses enjoy uniquely broad support among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

Employees’ preference for employee owned companies transcend ideological and partisan divides, with 74 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Republicans, and 67 percent of Independents voicing a preference for employee ownership.

Among respondents who cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election, 76.5 percent of Trump voters and 75.5 percent of Clinton voters prefer employee share ownership.

“These results show that employee ownership is the equivalent of a political unicorn—something very large majorities of Americans agree upon, completely independent of political leanings,” said Jim Bonham, President of the Employee Ownership Foundation. “This research shows that employees across the spectrum value owning a stake in the companies where they work. After decades in Washington, I can say this level of political agreement is truly unique and shows that employee ownership transcends our nation’s political divide.”

“These results show that employee ownership is the equivalent of a political unicorn—something very large majorities of Americans agree upon, completely independent of political leanings,” said Jim Bonham, President of the Employee Ownership Foundation.

“Americans disagree about a lot of things, but this is not one of them,” said Beyster Distinguished Professor Joseph Blasi, Director of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. “Democrat or Republican, female or male, black or white, union or non-union, a majority of respondents said they prefer to work for a company with employee share ownership. It is rare to find such a national consensus on anything.”

The survey findings align with recent bipartisan support for employee share ownership on Capitol Hill. In 2018, the Republican chairs and Democratic ranking members of the Senate and House Committees on Small Business co-sponsored the Main Street Employee Ownership Act. Signed last August, the new law makes it easier for retiring business owners to sell to their employees through an ESOP.

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