The problem with employing good staff is everyone else knows they’re good staff…including the good staff! They’re aware of their worth to a company. They can surf the job market accordingly, and pick only the ripest roles. To a large degree, they name their own price.
Then there are head hunting employers. They’re aggressive in their pursuit of the best people. They rarely take no for an answer if the right person is in their sights. For you, as an employer, this means you must work hard to attract good people, and twice as hard to hold onto them.
Your dilemma is shared by employers the world over
Some of the largest companies on the planet go to great lengths to attract and retain. For example, Microsoft offers a sweet range of benefits to their employees, including:
- Generous salary. In America, average of USD $118,000 (approx. NZD $175,000)
- Health, vision and dental insurance
- On-site health care
- On-site child care
- Retirement finance plans
- Loan refinancing plans
- Emphasis on work/life balance
- Extended parental leave
- Family caregiver leave
- Incentives and finance options for continuing education
Before you join the queue to work at Microsoft, consider this. The software giant is not alone in providing all these perks. It’s something many of the world’s most visionary employers feel the need to do. Some take it to extremes. For example, eco-friendly outdoor clothing company Patagonia pays the bail of activist employees who are arrested during environmental protests!
Although this seems like a left field perk, it fits in with the company’s green culture. That’s smart thinking from Patagonia. A cultural fit, where the employee feels right at home while at work, or in jail, allows a company to keep the best people. But while it’s important to provide an environment that respects a person’s gender, religion, race, creed, beliefs, and politics, it’s just as important to give each employee a sense of ownership. And with an employee share plan, that sense of ownership can be very real.
Many companies are waking up to the beauty of the employee share plan
Under this scheme, employees own a percentage of the company’s shares. This sort of plan has a wide range of benefits, including:
- A strong incentive for employees to stay with the company
- It can be a device to expand the ownership structure of the firm
- A longer-term capital appreciation opportunity for employees than the cash bonus
- A way for growth companies to promote staff loyalty while conserving cash for future investment
These sorts of benefits are a tasty lure for employees. But for the company’s owners, there’s an advantage as well. Namely, an employee share plan can be an alternative exit strategy. But an ownership scheme must be considered in its entirety, warts and all.
Where employee share plans might not work are in situations where the company owners don’t want to risk losing the power that comes with ownership; when everyone has a share, that power is indeed diluted. Plans can be expensive and difficult to set up. Some employees might not want to take on the risk of ownership; they could prefer taking home a regular pay packet without worrying about anything else. As shareholders, your employees might want to see company information that you once considered to be confidential and sensitive. And then, there are considerations about tax. Always a tricky area.
Pros and cons aside, an employee share plan is something to at least think about. Giving employees actual ownership could help you attract the best people. Sure, salary and company culture also need to be excellent, but a share plan could be a point of difference. And you certainly need something to stand out in a very competitive recruitment market. We’re available to discuss share plans with you, and how they’ll affect your company as a whole.