Capitalism, at least how it is practiced in the West, primarily rewards those who put up the capital, the investors or owners. Wages are seen as a cost to control, employment is to be minimized. But step back and ask, is this fair? Surely the people who put millions into a business should get some type of return, but how much effort is there in calling your broker or writing a check? What about the people who show up every workday, who come up with ideas to improve the process, who satisfy customers, and who spend their wages and volunteer in their community? In a fair world, what percentage of the profits should they get?
Worker owned cooperatives are an alternative way to set up the enterprise so that this relationship is more balanced. These cooperatives not only share the fruits of labor with the laborers; unlike ESOPs, they also get decision making authority. Rights and responsibilities should in my mind always be aligned in this way. Give employees power and a fair share of the profits. After my many years experience with self directed work teams, I know that with a little coaching and support, most people will step up to the responsibility.
Increasingly business owners are selling their companies to the employees. Here are some examples.