One of the main problems in today’s workplace is that employees lack a feeling of ownership.  Research by Towers Perrin and Gallup shows that between 71% and 86% of employees fall between being moderately engaged to actively disengaged from their workplace.  In order for employees to act and perform like owners, they need to feel and be treated like owners.

Workplace democracy is seen by many as the key to developing a culture of ownership in the organization, and is therefore crucial to enhancing competitiveness and productivity, to fostering creativity and innovation, and to combating employee turnover and disengagement.  The foundation of workplace democracy is based on the sharing of informaton, discretion, and rewards amongst all employees.

Sharing Information

If employees are unaware of their company’s goals and performance, it is easy for them to lose sight of the importance or significance of their tasks and how they contribute to the attainment of the company’s goals.  Every employee should therefore know and understand the company’s goals as well as how the company is performing and progressing towards those goals.  If necessary, employees are trained so that everyone is able to understand the company’s financial and other important data.  People are then able to better manage their own activities and to help keep customers happy, sales growing, and expenses to a minimum.

Sharing Discretion

If employees are knowledgeable about the company goals and about how their jobs fit into the overall picture, then employees should also have the discretion to decide on the best way of performing their own tasks.  People who have the power to decide HOW to do their jobs will feel a greater amount of ownership and pride in their tasks, and they will be more motivated to succeed.  In addition, one of the main reasons for the success of democratic governments is the ability of people to elect their leaders and representatives.  Many of the benefits of workplace democracy will remain unachievable without similar processes.

Sharing Rewards

Employees have always shared (often disproportionately) in the consequences of poor company performance, either via layoffs or decreased compensation.  Employees should also participate in the upside when companies are successful in achieving their goals.  This is the most effective way to align employees’ interests with those of the company.  Examples of shared financial rewards are Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOP) and companywide profit-sharing programs.

This site is managed by Asher Adelman.  Asher is the founder of popular career resource eBossWatch, which enables people to rate their bosses so that job-seekers can better evaluate prospective employers and avoid toxic workplaces. Asher has been featured in ABC News, Forbes, TheStreet.com, The Chicago Tribune, The Orange County Register and the New York Post.

Asher has held marketing, sales, and operations management positions with companies in the software and medical device industries. Asher received his MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine and holds a BA in history from the University of California, San Diego. Asher can be reached at asher [.] adelman [AT] gmail [.] com


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