Life is a busy place and our attention is at a premium as we are assailed by nudges prompts and messages, virtual and real. It is the same for employees only more so: share plans account for a fraction of what interests them.
Yet from an organisation’s point of view, other than looking good, share plans only work if employees appreciate them. So [employers] have to communicate to make them worth the investment.
It is well known that reward is what makes people happy at work. Share plans are an obscure reward, so call for more effort.
One size certainly does not suit all. Employees need to be wooed according to their own status interest and taste. Total personalisation is too expensive, of course, but it should always be the theoretical goal.
From the share plan, employees need to understand that the [organisation] cares about them, even the boss; that the share price is a shared interest among all and that working smarter should make everybody better off.
There are no best ways of communicating. It depends critically on the [organisation] and its staff. But take a lesson from PR where third-party endorsement is the bee’s knees. What other people say influences more than a top-down message.
Employers should, therefore, get employees to carry the message to other employees and find respected third parties to say the right things.
Finally, the democratic right to vote as a shareholder is worth promoting. It gives an importance over and above material reward to the share scheme story. It may be boring to administer but share schemes need flights of fancy and inspiration, as well as worked examples.
Malcolm Hurlston is chairman at the Employee Share Ownership (Esop) Centre