Investing Rulebook

6 Successful Companies That Are Employee-Owned

Employee ownership is a concept that is gaining traction in today’s corporate world. It offers a unique way for employees to have a deeper sense of loyalty and commitment to their organizations.

In this article, we will explore the topic of employee ownership, including its benefits and the examples of successful companies that have implemented this strategy. We will also delve into the cost of disengagement in the workplace and the efforts organizations make to keep their staff motivated.

to Employee Ownership

Cost of Disengagement in the Workplace

Disengagement in the workplace is an issue that plagues many organizations. When employees are disengaged, they are less productive and more likely to leave their jobs.

This can result in significant costs for companies, ranging from the cost of hiring and training new employees to the loss of institutional knowledge. According to a study by Gallup, disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion annually in lost productivity.

This staggering figure highlights the importance of addressing employee engagement in the workplace.

Efforts to Keep Staff Motivated

To combat disengagement and keep their employees motivated, organizations implement various strategies. Competitive wages are an effective way to attract and retain employees.

When employees feel they are being compensated fairly, they are more likely to stay engaged and committed to their work. Additionally, many companies offer ownership interest to their employees through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

This allows employees to have a stake in the company’s success and creates a sense of ownership that can boost motivation and loyalty.

Employee Ownership Examples

Publix Super Markets

One of the most well-known examples of employee ownership is Publix Super Markets. As the largest employee-owned company in the United States, Publix has a unique ownership structure.

Employees have the opportunity to purchase Publix stock, and a significant portion of the company’s profits are distributed to employees through stock dividends. This ownership interest creates a strong connection between employees and the success of the company, fostering a culture of collaboration and dedication.

Penmac Staffing

Penmac Staffing is another example of a successful employee-owned company. As the second-largest employee-owned company in the United States,

Penmac Staffing provides temporary staffing services.

The company’s employee ownership structure has been instrumental in creating a sense of pride and commitment among its temporary employees. Temporary employees are given the opportunity to participate in an employee stock ownership plan, allowing them to have a share in the company’s success.

This ownership mentality encourages temporary employees to perform at their best and contribute to the overall success of the company.


Employee ownership is a powerful strategy that organizations can employ to increase employee engagement and motivation. By offering ownership interest and creating a sense of ownership among employees, companies can foster a culture of loyalty and commitment.

The examples of Publix Super Markets and

Penmac Staffing demonstrate the success that can be achieved through employee ownership. As organizations continue to recognize the benefits of employee ownership, this strategy is likely to become more prevalent in the corporate world.

More Examples of Employee-Owned Companies

Brookshire Brothers

Brookshire Brothers is a prime example of a successful employee-owned company in the grocery store industry. Based in Texas and Louisiana, Brookshire Brothers operates over 100 stores and has been a staple in the communities it serves for nearly 100 years.

The company’s ownership structure is unique, as it is structured as a cooperative, with employees and customers holding ownership interest. Through its cooperative model, Brookshire Brothers empowers employees to have a say in the company’s direction and allows them to actively participate in decision-making processes.

This sense of ownership fosters a strong bond between employees and the company, resulting in increased commitment and a dedication to providing exceptional customer service. Employees at Brookshire Brothers have the opportunity to purchase shares in the company, becoming co-owners and benefiting from the company’s success.

This ownership interest not only serves as a financial incentive but also promotes a sense of pride and accountability among employees. They can directly share in the profits of the company through dividends and have a voice in shaping the company’s future.

WinCo Foods

WinCo Foods is a warehouse-style grocery store chain that operates over 100 stores across the western United States. In addition to its competitive prices and quality products,

WinCo Foods is unique in its employee ownership structure.

The company is 100% employee-owned through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Through the ESOP,

WinCo Foods provides its employees with a stake in the company’s success.

As the company’s value increases, so does the value of employees’ stock. This incentivizes employees to work hard, knowing that their efforts directly contribute to the growth and profitability of the company.

The employee ownership model at

WinCo Foods has numerous advantages. It encourages employees to think and act like owners, taking pride in their work and striving for excellence.

This leads to higher levels of motivation, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, company success. Additionally, the ESOP provides employees with a valuable retirement benefit, ensuring that they share in the rewards of their hard work and dedication.

Employee-Owned Companies in Finance and Waste Management

Robert W. Baird & Co.

While employee ownership is commonly associated with the manufacturing and retail sectors, companies in the finance industry can also benefit from this ownership structure.

Robert W. Baird & Co., a global investment banking and private equity firm, is a prime example of a successful employee-owned company in the finance sector.

Robert W. Baird & Co. has a long history of prioritizing a culture of ownership and employee involvement.

The company’s employee ownership structure aligns the interests of its employees with the overall success of the firm. By giving employees ownership, they have a personal stake in the company’s performance, which drives them to excel in their roles.

The employee ownership model at Robert W. Baird & Co. has numerous advantages.

It fosters a sense of pride, loyalty, and commitment among employees, resulting in a higher level of dedication to providing excellent service to clients. Additionally, the company’s employee owners are more inclined to collaborate and share expertise, leading to a strong and cohesive team.


Employee ownership can also be found in the waste management industry, as demonstrated by

Recology. Based in San Francisco,

Recology is an employee-owned company that specializes in resource recovery and waste management services.

It operates in more than 70 communities in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Recology’s ownership structure is based on its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which gives employees the opportunity to acquire stock in the company. This ownership stake aligns the interests of the employees with the long-term success of the company, fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation, and dedication.

The employee ownership model at

Recology extends beyond financial benefits. It empowers employees to take an active role in shaping the company’s operations and environmental stewardship efforts.

As owners, employees are more likely to actively participate in sustainability initiatives, such as waste reduction and recycling, resulting in a positive impact on the communities they serve.


Employee ownership is not limited to a specific industry; it can be successful and beneficial in various sectors. Companies like Brookshire Brothers,

WinCo Foods, Robert W.

Baird & Co., and

Recology have shown that employee ownership fosters a sense of ownership, loyalty, and commitment among employees. It aligns their interests with the success of the company, leading to increased motivation, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

As more companies recognize the benefits of employee ownership, we can expect this ownership model to continue to grow and reshape corporate culture.

Benefits of Employee Ownership Programs

Motivation and Accountability

One of the key benefits of employee ownership programs is the impact they have on the motivation and accountability of employee-owners. When employees have a sense of ownership in the company, they often exhibit a more positive attitude towards their work and take their responsibilities more seriously.

Employee-owners understand that the success of the company directly affects their own financial well-being. This knowledge drives them to perform at their best, knowing that their job performance has a direct impact on the success and profitability of the company.

They are motivated to go the extra mile, take pride in their work, and strive for excellence. Moreover, employee-owners understand the importance of accountability.

They are more likely to take ownership of their actions and outcomes, recognizing that their individual efforts contribute to the overall success of the company. This accountability drives them to meet deadlines, accomplish tasks with efficiency, and take responsibility for their decisions.

ESOPs as a Retention and Incentive Tool

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) serve as powerful tools for both employee retention and incentive. These ownership programs offer employees a financial stake in the company, providing a tangible and desirable benefit that helps retain top talent and reduce turnover.

Employees who have ownership interest in the company are more likely to stay committed to their jobs for the long term. They have a higher sense of job security and a vested interest in the success of the company, which makes them less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.

This increased retention leads to a more stable workforce and saves companies the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. ESOPs also function as effective incentive systems.

By tying employee compensation and rewards to the company’s performance, employees are not only motivated to perform well but also rewarded for their efforts. This incentive structure encourages employees to invest their time and energy into the company’s success, fostering a culture of hard work and dedication.


Significance of Employee Ownership Programs

Employee ownership programs play a significant role in shaping the attitude and commitment of staff members. By providing employees with ownership interest in the company, organizations foster a sense of motivation and loyalty, which ultimately contributes to business success.

When employees feel included and have a stake in the outcome, their dedication to the company’s goals becomes an asset.

Examples of Successful Employee-Owned Companies

Throughout this article, we have explored various examples of successful employee-owned companies. Publix Super Markets,

WinCo Foods,

Recology, and

Penmac Staffing are just a few of the companies that have implemented employee ownership programs and reaped the benefits.

These companies have demonstrated that employee ownership programs can create a culture of collaboration, motivation, and accountability. By offering ownership interest to their employees, they have enhanced job satisfaction, reduced turnover, and increased productivity and profitability.

These success stories serve as inspiration for other companies considering the implementation of employee ownership programs. Employee ownership is a powerful tool that can transform a company’s culture and boost its performance.

As organizations continue to recognize the value of employee ownership, more companies are likely to adopt this ownership model. By prioritizing employee participation, motivation, and accountability, businesses can create an environment that fosters growth, success, and shared prosperity.

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