2. Promote Widespread, Inclusive Participation
Once your charter is complete, open the membership application process. It’s important to communicate the need and expectations, but it’s also important to attract diverse applicants who’ll reflect and represent the diverse interests of all employee-owners. You might hold an all-hands meeting, or send out a video invitation that explains the mission of the committee, along with a link to apply.
Keep messaging upbeat, direct, and straightforward about the vision, responsibilities, and workload expected with participation. Whether members are elected or selected by leadership, limited and staggered terms are a best practice to encourage widespread participation and bring fresh perspectives.
Members should represent various stages within the ESOP participant lifecycle, from newer employees to those close to retirement. They should come from different departments and/or locations, too.
Leadership may step forward to make nominations and help promote elections, especially in the early years of your ESOP. Some companies hold elections as major events, and others simply appoint committee members. Committee members often serve for terms of two to four years. You can review and adjust the charter to make changes as needed.
3. Follow an Annual ESOP Committee Calendar
Once your ESOP committee is in place, the real work begins. The committee’s 12-month calendar of action items should include at least four touch points throughout the year, with results reviewed by management.
Monthly meetings are typical, but you may find your committee needs to meet more or less often. Meeting agendas and minutes encourage discipline and provide an easy way to keep senior management informed.
Encourage ESOP committee members to contribute new ideas that appeal to employees, educate about the benefit, promote engagement, and foster a shared sense of employee-ownership. Some actions your committee might consider include:
- Newsletters or regular email updates
- Lunch-and-learn presentations
- Wellness initiatives (whether physical, mental, or financial)
- Holiday or founder’s day celebrations (catered meals, potlucks, games, etc.)
- Employee gifts or swag bags
- Q-&-A Events
- Annual share price reveals
- Employee ownership month celebrations
- Community service events
4. Solicit Feedback from ESOP Participants
Getting periodic employee feedback helps you measure the committee’s impact. That’s why the committee should plan its feedback-capture mechanism alongside its planning for each event.
Many companies send out an electronic follow-up survey to capture employee responses. These surveys don’t need to take more than a minute or two to get meaningful feedback, so try to keep them under six questions or so. Leave a blank space for long-form responses to encourage questions and new ideas for future events.
Feedback should also be provided to senior management and the board of directors, since it offers a barometer of employee sentiment. This can help leadership gauge company climate and culture, and assess the performance of the committee on an ongoing basis.
5. Make Continuous Improvement an ESOP Committee Goal
Participant feedback, along with business performance indicators, serves as a measure of success for both the ESOP communication committee and the ESOP itself, so use it. What’s successful at one business can flop at another — so measure engagement, make adjustments based on feedback, and look for ways to improve every year.
Some company cultures are more enthusiastic about chili cook-offs or potluck events; others may respond better to an “ESOP Olympics” or an afternoon sorting food at a local pantry. Over time, your committee will have opportunities to revise and refine the annual calendar and bring it into closer alignment with your company and ESOP values.
One of the most important responsibilities of the ESOP committee is to help employees earlier in the ESOP lifecycle understand and value the long-term benefit of the plan. That early understanding can be vital to ESOP engagement, advocacy, and employee retention.
6. Seek Expert Guidance on All Things ESOP
Whether you’re drafting your initial charter, developing a strategic plan, or creating newsletter templates and feedback surveys, an experienced third-party administrator can help make sure you don’t miss important details. Working with an expert helps ensure regulatory compliance while also helping your ESOP achieve the greatest possible business impact.
In fact, a recent review of ESOP Partners clients revealed that those who get expert help developing their employee ownership culture alongside regulatory and administrative services saw a median year-over-year increase in share value of more than 24%. That’s proof employee engagement can have a direct impact on business performance — which, in turn, affects share value.
It might not be easy to create and support an ESOP communication committee that follows an annual process like this, but it is certainly worthwhile. By maintaining your focus on your committee’s mission statement and goals, you can make sure every communication and event is aligned with your company and ESOP values and supports employee ownership throughout the year.
And don’t be afraid to try new things! When it comes to educating plan participants and building an engaged culture of employee owners, creativity and enthusiasm are key. Jumpstart your committee activities and get even more ESOP communication ideas and tips when you download our free eBook. Just click the link below to claim your personal copy.