Can be a delusion but can also be very lucrative. Use WinCo as an example. I know someone who was a checker there and a long term 30+ year employee that just cashed out $2.25M through the ESOP plan.The employee owned thing is kind of a delusion. Many do not participate and those who do don't have a very big slice of the pie. Wouldn't imagine there's enough profit sharing (or however the employee/owner is compensated) to make it a worthwhile investment. The hourly wage doesn't support substantial investing. There are better investments than shares of the company a person works for because if the company goes under, (or sells out) you lose it all. Lots of horror stories out there.
Most employee ownership typically provides the employee with stock and stock options for those that stick it out long term. It does take some investment by the employee including tenure. The privately held local company I run, we have developed a equity program that pays all of our employees a cut of what ever we might sell our brand for. We set aside 20% of the selling price and is divided by their salary share %. We also kick back a profit share yearly through our parent company. Our goal is to share the wealth and have long term employees.