Woolworths: Try Giving Shares to Staff

Woolworths is considering improving its executive rewards scheme because chairman Richard North believes the senior management team is not sufficiently incentivised to turn around the ailing high-street retailer.

I read this on the same day I read that Neal's Yard Remedies' Peter Kindersley has decided to offer his employees a 15 per cent stake in the business. The homeopathic and organic beauty product business has offered its 280 staff a piece of the company because Kindersley wants Neal's Yard to be "the number one health and beauty brand". Employees at Neal's Yard are likely to redouble their efforts to see the business succeed now that they own a piece of it.

OK, the businesses are radically different. And yes, executives who are tasked with scraping a company's share price off the floor need incentivising.

But what if Woolies followed Kindersley's lead? Or it could go one further, emulating fellow high-street stalwart John Lewis Partnership (which is completely owned by its "partners" or employees.)

JLP may not be immune to dips in fortune, but it tends to bounce back more quickly than rivals. Why? Employee-owned organisations have an inbuilt incentive scheme that's hard to fault. And a collective drive to business improvement is bound to have more impact than even the most valiant efforts of a few.

What do you think -- could a stake in the business incentivise Woolworths' employees to turn the retailer around?