He was speaking as figures from Co-operatives UK showed that the growth rate of employee owned businesses was 50 per cent higher than the UK economy (at a rate of 1.1 per cent compared to 0.7 per cent).
Speaking at a government summit in response to a report by the government adviser Graeme Nuttall, Clegg said employee ownership should enter the bloodstream of the British economy. The report said there was a lack of awareness, lack of resources and people were worried about how complicated setting up such businesses could be.
Clegg said: “I think having employees in the driving seat, where they’re not just being told what to do by a distant boss, but everybody has a stake is a proven, tried and tested way of creating happy employees and successful companies.”
He went on: “We need to find the right levers to drive a kind of culture shift where going down the employee ownership route isn’t a eureka moment, but is much more normal, commonplace. Not everyone wants to set up their own company, but we all know we could; we all know someone else who has. That’s my aim for employee ownership too – another way to be your own boss.”
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, said: “Employee owned businesses are a key part of a co-operative sector that has been outperforming the wider UK economy since the start of the credit crunch 2008. These figures add to the growing body of evidence that employees with an ownership stake are more engaged and make for more resilient businesses.”
Responding to Clegg’s speech, Mayo said: “We are delighted to see the government’s commitment to support and develop employee owned businesses. There is growing evidence that engaged employees with an ownership stake in the business create a more resilient business.”
The TUC’s general secretary Brendan Barber commented: “The most successful companies are those which have good relationships with their staff and where employees genuinely feel involved with the running of the business. In these situations where workers feel valued and that their views matter, employee ownership can reap benefits both for the workforce and for businesses.”