Project Controller Gillian Weston on owning a stake in Environet

How does it feel to be told you’re to become an owner of the business you work for? With Environet now 100% owned by its staff, Environet Project Controller Gillian Weston gives her perspective on the change.

Did you know much about employee ownership before this summer?

I was aware of employee-owned businesses such as John Lewis and thought it was a great idea, but I’d never heard of the EOT (Employee Ownership Trust model) and it wasn’t something that was on my radar for Environet! I had wondered what might happen to the business in the future and assumed it would be bought by a competitor, so I couldn’t be happier to learn that the company’s future is secure.

How did you feel when you heard the news?

Nic organised a group Microsoft Teams call and said he had a big announcement to make, so needless to say there was quite a bit of speculation about what it could be! It was such a pleasant surprise to be told that the company was being handed over to us. A solicitor we worked with who specialises in helping businesses convert to employee ownership was on hand to give a presentation explaining everything in a very simple way and answer any questions we had, so I felt confident that everything was very clear. After the meeting I did my own research and spoke to friends and family, all of whom were very positive about the move and what it means for my future.

In your view, what are the benefits of working in an employee-owned business?

It definitely incentivises me to work even harder to ensure the business is successful and to give our customers the best possible experience. I also appreciate the fact that I have more of a say in the business and how it’s run. We all put ideas and suggestions forward for the quarterly Trustees meeting, so more than ever I feel like my voice is heard. Also, it was very nice to receive a tax-free bonus which I wasn’t expecting!

Has your day to day role changed?

I come in to work each day and do the same job I’ve always done, and Nic remains at the helm, but it’s motivating to know that there’s a lot of change going on in the background which will benefit my colleagues and I in the future.

How does employee ownership make you feel about the future?

Really positive. I feel like my colleagues and I are all spokes on a single wheel, working together and building momentum to propel the business forward. It’s been such a stressful year for so many people but we’re lucky that we were able to keep working through lockdown with special measures in place and have been run off our feet ever since! Owning a stake in the business makes me feel excited about the future and determined to keep doing the best job we possibly can for all our customers.

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