Predictability in your ESOP

Social psychologists say that the root of organizational trust is predictability. Surprise is the opposite of predictability, and although it is impossible to eliminate surprises, company leaders should make it their personal goal to never be the source of an unnecessary surprise. Companies can reduce surprises and be more predictable in a number of ways, all of which have the impact of increasing levels of trust.

Communication cycles: Many employee-owned companies communicate in a series of interlocking cycles. They send weekly (or daily) email updates about the state of the company. They have monthly department meetings, quarterly newsletters, and annual shareholder meetings. They have elections every July for their employee committee, a guess-the-stock-price contest every May, and a state of the company address from the CEO every February! The information itself is useful, but maybe even more important, these cycles become expected, and when people’s expectations are met, trust builds.

Open-book management: The better people understand the business, the less likely they are to be surprised. Teaching business literacy and sharing key financial information not only makes people feel like insiders and helps them manage their day-to-day decisions, it also lets them better see the road ahead.

Anticipate problems: What does a business downturn look like and what can we expect in response? Some ESOP companies have built themselves business contingency plans. Such a plan could describe, for example, a “stage 1” downturn in terms of a specific threshold of revenues, EBITDA, projects “in the pipeline,” or product development. The contingency plan, if business is soft, will let people know what needs to happen to the numbers to get out of stage 1, and the warning signs that the business may be approaching a “stage 2” downturn, or worse. One of our clients called their contingency plan “What happens if Ted gets hit by a bus?”, Ted being the founder and president and the main source of revenue. 

An ESOP alone creates conditions for success, however the routine communication practices are one of the important components of a successful plan because it builds trust.

By Joanna Phillips, CHRL, CVB, Vice President, and Perry Phillips CPA, CA, CBV, President


Every new ESOP requires Participation to be successful

As ESOP Experts we write about participation a lot when it comes to ESOPs. Our whole design and implementation methodology is based around a participative approach, and that’s no coincidence. But what does participation look like? Does it always mean representation on the Board of Directors?

Where a goal of the ESOP is an overhaul or integration of the company’s corporate culture, a significant factor could be whether or not employee-owners should have a right to representation on the board of directors. In a unionized company the unions usually require that representation, if they are to look at an ESOP as a means of supplementing wage concessions. Because ESOPs are put into place as a means to allow employees to participate in the value growth of the company, there is a tendency to develop the right of the employee-owners to representation on the board of directors. This is generally done over time as the shares owned by employees becomes about 40% or greater. Studies in the United States have shown that a majority of companies, after five or six years of operating the ESOP, tend to appoint employees to the board, as all stakeholders begin to understand and respect the issues that are involved in running the corporation, and trust each other to do what is best for the growth of the company.

One of our clients decided that board representation was important to their company culture. They decided that one board member would come from among the employee-owners and would have a term of three years. To select this board member, the employee-owners voted for one of three candidates chosen by the founding owners. 

A successful ESOP is flexible and adapts with the changing needs of the growing company. In this way the level of participation can change as the plan grows and employee-owners show greater understanding of what is involved in running an organization.

By Joanna Phillips, CHRL, CVB, Vice President, and Perry Phillips CPA, CA, CBV, President


You have an ESOP; now what?

You have an ESOP; now what? ESOPs in Canada

Putting in place a new plan, any plan, is always only the first step; it never runs itself. ESOPs are no different. It is not a set it and forget it tool.
The ESOP transaction is over and has been well received; now the cultural transformation begins. The initial euphoria provides momentum for the work ahead, but how do you harness it into meaningful actions? Employees may be hesitant and uncertain about how to go about this. It is up to the board of directors and/or the leadership individual(s) to channel this new entrepreneurial energy and focus it on the goals of the corporation. The goal for the ESOP team is to instill a participative culture where the new employee-owners start to act and think like owners. The four areas of interaction with its employees are ownership, participation, training, and information. A challenge for companies transitioning to a true ESOP culture is how to communicate it in a meaningful way. There are many types of corporate information to be shared, including strategic, tactical, and investments. However, the one most commonly shared is company financial information. Some of our clients wonder, so be reassured: specific personal information about salaries is never disclosed.
The continuum of sharing of financial information stretches from sharing NO financial information to FULL transparency based on financial statements. In practice what does this look like? One of our clients decided to share quarterly and year-end financial statements with all employee-owners. To do this, they held town hall meetings quarterly, with highlights of company performance, and annually on a more expansive basis. Those attending were advised that the proceedings were to be kept confidential. At the annual meetings, summarized, condensed financial results were shown on the screen as the presenter explained them and answered employees’ questions. No personal identifying information was shown, no printed material was made, and no electronic material was distributed. However it allowed the new employee-owners to participate at a higher level than pre-ESOP and communicated important information in a way that employee-owners could make a meaningful connection to the results of their day to day work.

By Joanna Phillips CHRL, CVB, Vice President and Perry Phillips, CPA, CA, CBV, President


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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Thinking of a Stock Option Plan for your Company?

When business owners think of offering their employees equity in the company, a stock option plan often comes to mind.

Stock options can be a great tool for owners to engage their employees and attract and keep talented staff. So let’s discuss what stock options are, and in what scenarios they perform best.

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B Corps and ESOPs – Best of Both Worlds

A new business certification called B Corp is becoming a leading business innovation, and the model works extremely well with an ESOP. B Corp

B Corp companies have a mission to maximize “stakeholder value.” Stakeholders include employees, community and the environment, in addition to shareholders. Consider it like certification of a LEED building or Fair trade coffee, but for companies.

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Does Happiness Create Success in Business?

In a meta analysis of 225 academic studies by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King and Ed Diener (as reported in the 2012 Harvard Business Review) it was shown that happy employees have a higher productivity rate by 31%, increased sales by 37% and are 3 times more innovative and creative.

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Should You Make The Scary Switch To Employee Share Ownership (ESOP)?

Should you make the scary switch to an ESOP?  Or is it a scary switch?Employee Share Ownership - is it scary?

There is often a perception that inviting employees into the ownership circle can  take away value, rather than adding value to a company.  When designed well, this is not true at all. In fact, there are many huge advantages for the owner, the company and the employee team.

Tema Frank of Frank Reactions interviewed Employee Ownership Specialist, Dan Ohler, from Edmonton, AB to explore these questions.

We invite you to grab a cup of coffee, put on your headset, and enjoy the interview.

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Employee Ownership. Is It Right For You?

In our daily conversations with business owners and senior management, we receive lots of questions about employee ownership of business through an ESOP.  Most fit into two categories characterized as:

  1. How do we implement an ESOP?
  2. We’ve got an ESOP. How do we keep it fresh and alive?

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Is it the Right Time for Canadian Employee Ownership?

It is no secret that our Canadian economy is changing. How does this relate to Canadian employee ownership?  A great question.

In Alberta, as in many other places across Canada, thousands of oil-related jobs have been lost. Downtown Calgary was almost impossible to drive through a year ago, yet now, rush hour is quite manageable – and it’s not because people are riding bikes.

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ESOP plans in agriculture too

Employee Share Ownership Plans in Canada are often thought to work best in industries such as engineering, construction, high-tech, and famous little airline companies like the one based out of Calgary, AB.  Any guesses?

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The Conversation Canada is Missing On Minimum Wage

Recently, B.C., Alberta and Ontario have committed to raising the minimum wage and predictably in all cases, these wage hikes are met with scorn and praise from both sides. While a minimum wage is an essential factor to protect workers and create a minimum standard of living, there is a better solution that Canada should be exploring to help more people build wealth and ensure a competitive economy.

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12 Successful Strategies for Creating a Participative Environment

Studies in the United States over the last 40 years have repeatedly identified that an employee share ownership plan (ESOP) with a participation component outperforms one without a participation element.

Participation means that the employees take on the responsibility of their particular job as well as the accountability that goes along with it by participating in decision-making in their sphere of influence within the organization.

Participation is vital to an ESOP. In fact, the same studies have shown that ESOPs without employee participation might be worse than having no ESOP at all. This negative result has been calculated at upwards of 6% of reduced production. 

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Welcome

Hello,

We’re very pleased to introduce our new website! We hope you find everything you came for.

If you have any questions related to anything you see here or are interested in learning more about ESOPs, ESOP Builders or just fancy a chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly at info@esopbuilders.com.

Don’t forget to check our blog often, as we’ll be posting industry content, news, and notes that may benefit you!

We look forward to blogging for you!

–ESOP Builders