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There are just a few months between now and October — the official start of the month-long celebration of all things ESOP. There are generally two reactions to this news: Consider these months as plenty of time to prepare and put a note on your to-do list for later, or grab the opportunity to make this year’s Employee Ownership Month engaging, interactive, and fun for your employee-owners.

As advisors to ESOP-businesses third-party administrators and an employee-owned company ourselves, the ESOP Partners team is aware of the opportunities that Employee Ownership Month offers. There are 31 days of the year earmarked specifically for promoting the benefits of ESOPs and inspiring employee-owners to go all-in on cultivating a mindset and culture of ownership every day.

With all of that potential, the ramp-up to October may now feel a little shorter than maybe initially thought. Don’t panic! With pre-planning and help from some team members, there’s no need for you to handle every aspect of the kickoff celebration. Use these tips to stress less and build a more rewarding Employee Ownership Month event.

The Essential Checklist: Planning, Participation, and Post-event Feedback

To build momentum for your October employee-owned business celebration, it’s important to think about it in phases: planning, participation, and post-event feedback.


  1. Form an Employee Ownership Month planning committee. Ask for volunteers to coordinate core activities — everything from ideation and budgeting to ordering materials and food, renting space, and so on, right down to the smallest details like having recycling bins available. Regularly schedule touch-base meetings between the committee groups as a system of checks-and-balances as to what’s needed, what’s done, and what’s in-progress. Two or more heads are truly better than one.

  2. Survey employees. Circulate an informal survey asking employees for ideas, interests, and activity suggestions for the committee’s consideration. And make sure to ask remote employees to weigh in. They are as much a part of the event as the employee-owners on-site. Give everyone opportunities to let their voices be heard.

  3. Develop educational sessions and workshops. At the heart of Employee Ownership Month is providing actionable information about the benefits of an ESOP that will enrich employees’ experiences and understanding. Support materials such as presentations, handouts, posters, and videos all take time to create. The earlier key decisions are made about ESOP educational offerings, the quicker coordination and production of materials can begin.

  4. Determine and order company-branded merchandise. Providing employees with shirts, desktop items, and other branded “swag” boosts pride or ownership, and also presents opportunities to recognize people who are or become fully vested, contributed in an extraordinary way, etc. Working with merchandise vendors can be tricky so ordering early and tracking progress is essential. Make sure you order more than the minimum needed so you can seamlessly account for any miscalculations or extra needs.

  5. Create a logistics plan. Successfully celebrating employee ownership comes down to the details. Don’t make assumptions. Walk through what’s needed to support the event and identify needs and/or gaps. For example, think about the event space: Is it off-site? Where? How are reservations made? Is an up-front payment due? Will the company provide transportation to the event site? Will food be catered? Details often snowball quickly, so be proactive in managing them.


Now that you have the groundwork in motion, it’s time to shift focus to how employee-owners will be engaged at dedicated events and during the course of Employee Ownership Month. Here are some suggested activities to maximize participation:

  1. Ask Me Anything. Workshops and webinars that help employee-owners understand ESOP basics such as terminology and more in-depth discussions about benefits and expectations is essential throughout October. Consider arranging breakout sessions where in-house ESOP experts field questions from employees and facilitate discussions.

  2. Friendly competitions. Create ESOP-centric games such as a trivia contest, and for longer-term engagement, encourage employees to participate in fun activities such as designing a company t-shirt, costume contests, or post-a-photo opportunities on personal and corporate social media. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from employees.

  3. Surprise and delight. Arrange for giveaways or surprises for employees. Company-branded items, food treats, or distributing random gift cards are some high-touch ways to make people feel appreciated as employee-owners.

  4. Team building. We mentioned workshops and games — which are great ways to build interpersonal relationships. Also consider large group social gatherings such as picnics, cookoffs, or happy hours that build community and trust, and support team-building with organized activities infused in the event.

  5. Engage remote employees. Include a virtual component to activities planning so employee-owners who work off-site can participate in Employee Ownership Month. Plan for easy wins with online access to workshops, social media campaigns, recognition ceremonies, and games. Send gift packages and other surprise-and-delight items. Small gestures can make a big difference to remote employees.

You are the best judge of what will resonate with your team and make October an inspiring and memorable month of employee ownership. Use these suggestions as guidelines and expand beyond them to maximize participation.

Post-event Feedback

Once Employee Ownership Month winds down, you can learn a lot by gathering feedback about your efforts — be it a one-time event or a month-long celebration.

  • Distribute a post-event survey among employees to get objective feedback from the participants’ perspective.
  • Arrange for a Employee Ownership Month committee touch-base to give your team an opportunity to share their experiences about what went great and what could use improvement. These are valuable learnings in general and can inform best practices for future employee ownership events.

This checklist is a broad guide to event planning for Employee Ownership Month, but it’s important to remember that employee ownership is a source of pride all year long. Leverage the excitement of October by keeping your company focused on and talking about your ESOP. Download our infographic, ESOP Communication Flow, to foster a culture of forward-thinking employee ownership.

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