Employees of architect firm Stride Treglown can now take ownership of a piece of the company as it seeks to generate a closer bond with staff and broaden its base of operations across the GCC.
Its headquarters is currently in Abu Dhabi, but the business is looking at new premises in Dubai in order to be at the centre of the design and build action in the run up to Expo 2020.
And under a new initiative workers are being encouraged to take a financial stake in its future.
Stride Treglown chairman David Hunter says: “The employee ownership plan was borne out of a wish to strengthen and develop our business and to set up a financial framework that would allow us to maintain our status as an independent organisation, capable of making our own decisions.
“We wanted to continue to be able to forge our future without anyone looking over our shoulders, telling us what we can or cannot do.”
The company admits ownership from a small number of directors to the entire workforce is a big step, as for more than 60 years it has followed a more conventional model. The directors said the process required careful thought, research, planning along with expert specialist advice.
Hunter says: “From the start, we set up the plan to achieve a handful of key objectives – to engender a sense of engagement for our employees with the company, to generate a closer and fairer relationship between effort and reward for everyone in the practice and to build a financially stable and sustainable business for the long term.”
In practical terms the company buys back the shares of departing senior directors into a trust and then distributes them on equal terms to all employees in the company via a UK Government approved scheme called a Share Incentive Plan.
Depending on the circumstances year on year, shares can either be gifted to employees in lieu of cash bonuses or bought by them from their pre-tax income. As long as employees hold onto those shares for a period of five years, no tax will be levied on either their purchase or subsequent sale. In effect, this is a government supported plan to encourage a medium to long term approach to investment.
The advantage to Stride Treglown – according to its management – is that it encourages stability in the workforce and is a more efficient way of sharing profits.