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.


Shared Resources for the ESOP Community

Our April 2020 survey gathered responses from ESOP companies across Canada to help understand their strategies undertaken to manage operations as an ESOP during the COVIC-19 crisis.  The survey summary is illustrated below. 


The Philosophy that allows ESOPs (Employee Share Ownership Plans) to create incredibly successful companies.

First is the philosophy of personal wealth creation. Employees are motivated by financial gain and ESOPs deliver wealth.

Second is the philosophy of cultural engagement on a personal basis. The Theory of Group Wisdom holds that groups are more successful over individuals due not to the intellect of each person but due to the social interaction of the group. ESOPs create the conditions of group success through a participative culture of engagement.

The combination of personal wealth creation and social interaction create a synergy that few non-ESOP companies can match. The results are ESOP companies with higher productivity, higher profitability, more innovation, and wealthier employees.

By Perry Phillips, President and Founder of ESOP Builders Inc.

Learn more about the 2018 Canadian Employee Ownership Conference in Edmonton, AB – June 4-6.


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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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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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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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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