The Case for an ESOP as an Attraction and Retention Tool

The shut-down of the economy has lasted for almost 2 months and businesses are either facing negative impacts from the COVID-19 crisis, along with most Canadian businesses, or are among the minority of businesses experiencing positive impacts.

It’s likely that very difficult business decisions have had to be made to ensure your company’s existence through the crisis. Part of the challenge is having to lay off valued employees, and maintain a positive culture.

Although things are still changing rapidly, business owners are likely considering long-term impacts on the company’s ability to retain their employees, but also to attract top talent once the crisis is behind us. The many reasons why owners turn to an ESOP (Employee Share Ownership Plan) include to exit the business, to establish a succession plan, and especially to attract and retain the top talent in the industry. In some sectors ESOPs are de rigueur and companies cannot be without one. Rather than turning away from investing in your business growth now, this may be exactly the right time to take opportunities to work on your business rather than simply in it.

As your company grows and time goes on, your workforce demographics naturally become younger. It certainly seems that ESOPs appeal greatly to Millennial workers who are looking for something more out of their companies. More studies are confirming this as more millennials enter the workforce. Every business owner knows how much time it can take to put together the “perfect” team. Additionally, employees overall are not staying in one job, or one company, for long compared to in the past. For these reasons, an ESOP can be a very strategic and valuable tool to attract and retain your team which you have invested in and worked hard to establish. Many studies of ESOPs in the US conducted by the NCEO indicate that ESOP companies have a greater resilience for staying in business through economic downturns. While the current crisis is unprecedented, these studies do suggest companies who have a participative ESOP will be more likely to come out of the crisis and emerge in a relatively strong position.

In ESOP Builders’ ESOPs as an Attraction and Retention Tool (November 2019) survey of Canadian ESOP companies 75 percent of respondents indicated their ESOP offers an edge on the competition to attract and retain talent. Therefore, it is likely that taking these steps will set your company up for success against your competition by ensuring you have the team to bounce back incredibly strong once the country experiences a positive shift in the economy.

By Joanna Phillips, CHRL, CVB, Vice President, ESOP Builders Inc.


ESOP Owners

Over 20 years we have had the honour of meeting many business owners who wanted to implement an ESOP for their company.  We have also interviewed thousands of employees of these companies on their desire to become owners.

In our opinion there are two types of owners.  The first we call Founding Owners.  These are people who start a business where none existed before.  They have an idea, a passion, and a skill which they believe will be wanted by clients and customers.  Then they risk everything to start the business.  Many go without salary, raising funds from family and friends and putting up their own assets as collateral for bank funds.  The highest risk for a business is the first 5 years as most start ups fail during this period.  But this risk does not deter Founding Owners.  

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Employee Share Ownership Plans from the Owner’s Perspective

Most owners of privately-held companies are also the founders.  Why?  At some point in the past, they had a dream and a desire to own their own business.  For many, this required giving up a secure job working for someone else and entering the uncertain and ambiguous realm of an entrepreneur.  Although there was a huge risk, they believed in themselves and their dream, and they took the leap.  For many, this required using their own savings, as well as putting their house and everything they owned on the line as collateral.  This was not an easy decision on their part.

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How Does Neuroscience Affect Employee Engagement?

What is the foundation for effective employee engagement within your ESOP?

Trust. 

Actually, trust is the foundation for every relationship, in any area of your life.  And the only way to create a workplace environment for greater connection, collaboration, innovation, creativity, and success, is by building incrementally higher levels of trust every day.

A basic understanding of neuroscience can allow us to have a simple, understandable dialogue about some of the elements that instill trust, employee engagement, and can lead to an even more successful Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP).

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How Does a Management Buyout Relate to an ESOP?

A “management buyout” is a buzz phrase currently used in many business discussions, and for good reason.

The greatest generation of entrepreneurs in Canadian history will retire within the next 10 to 15 years, and these men and women are looking for a way to exit their companies in a way that meets their needs.  Not only do they want to leave with an abundance of retirement funds, they also want to leave a legacy.  They want to ensure the business they built and nurtured will thrive and continue to support the employees and enhance the community.

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Beau’s Brewery Implements ESOP

On its 10th anniversary, the owners of Canada’s largest organic brewery, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, announced it will be selling the company to employees through an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP).‎

The owners, a father-and-son team, said selling to employees ensures the Vankleek Hill, Ont., brewery that has  approximately 150 employees stays independent, an important factor for the founders.

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