On Tuesday we visited the Gripple and Loadhog factories, and were introduced to the Gripple story by Gordon, the special projects manager there. What struck me about Gripple (aside from their amazing shop floor), was a story that Gordon told about how all employees must buy shares in the company after a year of working there. He spoke of one man who had to be persuaded to agree to doing this, as he was unsure about putting that amount of money into the company. After a few years, he came to realise the benefit of this and it encouraged him as an employee to make sure that he could do everything he could to help the business to grow. Eventually, he was able to earn enough money through these shares that he was able to realise his dream and buy a caravan.
What struck me about this story was the way in which the company understand how they can get the most of their employees by creating a good working environment and showing people that although they may be part of a large team, they still have the ability to make a difference to the fortunes of the company. This is something which I feel is being constantly eroded in many other workplaces, with profit put above all else, and many people unable to see how they might make a difference. The lack of a strict hierarchy at Gripple is something else which I believe helps foster a good working environment and keeps people motivated as they are working to grow the business for everyone, not just for the top directors as in many other companies.