Myriam Robin: Employee ownership schemes are a start-up’s best friend. If you lack the cash to pay the talent you need, shares in your company may be one of the few assets you have.

That’s why, if the start-up succeeds, early employees usually make a killing. But such schemes are far less common in established firms, especially smaller, private ones.

Architectural firm Hayball is celebrating its 30th birthday after years of fast growth. In the past 10 years, revenue and staff numbers have trebled. And to guide their business through the next period of expansion, Hayball’s partners have decided on a radical proposal.

They want to give their employees a stake in the company, comprising 25% of total ownership within 10 years.

Tom Jordan, the managing director of Hayball, says the idea came about after seeing what happened to the firm’s workers after they were made partners and given an ownership stake.

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