Similar to most events in 2020, the ESOP Association’s Annual Midwest Conference went virtual this year. Initially, the meeting was set to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but with the current health concerns in mind, I, along with several members of DISTek’s ESOP Communications Committee were able to attend from the comfort of our own homes!
The ESOP Association Conference serves to connect employee owners across organizations, share ideas to build upon ESOP culture, and educate the members on the inner-workings of an ESOP. Some of the session topics for this year’s annual conference included “ESOP Fun and Games,” “Connecting Culture to Business Results,” and “Basic ESOP Administration.” ESOP conferences are a great way for employee owners to not only learn about ESOPs in general, but more importantly, to learn how to incorporate an ownership culture into every part of their business.
Some of my top takeaways from the conference include:
1. The importance of ESOP Education. In order for an employee to be engaged with an ESOP, they need to understand what an ESOP is and what it means to be an employee owner. The education also needs to be continuous. Educating new hires is essential, but making sure to distribute information regularly through the entire employee base is critical to building a culture of ownership. DISTek’s ESOP Communications Committee is currently working on initiatives pertaining to this topic – communicating concise, regular bits of information in our internal DISTek Journal newsletter and on our internal social media platform, Yammer. We are also creating info-graphics about our ESOP to share with potential and current employees.
2. Connecting employee contributions to business results. If employee owners can more easily see the link between their contributions to business outcomes, it becomes easier to become more engaged in being an employee owner, because they can see how their role helps the organization to succeed. The message we are trying to communicate is this: Clear link between contributions and business outcomes = ownership mindset.
3. Celebration is essential! There are only a few significant milestones in an employee owner’s ESOP life cycle, so it is critical to make it a point to celebrate those milestones. At DISTek, on your 2nd day of employment, an employee officially becomes a member of the ESOP, and after 6 years of employment – 100% vested. Finding ways to make these events more significant for every employee owner who meets these milestones is a great way to help achieve higher engagement with ESOP culture.
October is Employee Ownership Month, and the ESOP Communications Committee at DISTek has put together a program of activities and educational material that will help to emphasize the three points above – ESOP education, building the connection between contributions and business outcomes, and celebrating! At DISTek, we are working hard to make our ESOP culture one in which everyone wants to be a part of.