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How Equity Plans Can Help Foster a Positive Work Environment

Are you looking for ways to motivate your employees and keep them engaged? Industry studies show that retaining top talent and maximizing employee motivation are among the biggest challenges faced by companies worldwide. Canadian companies aren't immune to this trend. According to Gallup's annual employee engagement survey, 66% of Canadian respondents are not engaged, while 13% are actively disengaged. Only 21% of respondents are engaged, trailing slightly below the global average of 23% and significantly lower than the 33% engaged in the United States. These statistics are concerning as employee engagement is directly linked to better retention, lower absenteeism and higher productivity.

One increasingly popular method of enhancing employee motivation is implementing equity plans. More and more companies increasingly are offering equity compensation plans to attract and retain top talent. These plans align employee interests with the company's long-term goals. Providing employees with a stake in the company can incentivize them to work harder and stay committed to achieving shared goals.

In this article, we explore how equity plans function as employee motivation tools and share our insights on their potential impact on individual and organizational performance.

Understanding Equity Plans

At its core, an equity plan provides employees with a stake in the company, typically in stock options, restricted or performance share units (RSU/PSUs) or employee share purchase plans (ESPPs). With stock options, employees can purchase company stock at a set price after a certain period, known as the vesting period. RSUs and PSUs can be offered as stock and/or cash compensation, and access to them is typically related to performance or tenure. ESPPs allow employees to purchase company stock with an employer match or at a discount, often through payroll deductions.

The fundamental idea is that employees who own a piece of the company may be more invested in its success, as they directly benefit from the company's stock doing well. Employees see the value of their equity increase, directly linking their financial wellbeing to the company's performance. In addition, the opportunity to own a part of the company can be a deciding factor for prospective employees looking at long-term benefits rather than just a salary, helping companies attract top talent.

Why Offer Equity Plans

The power of equity plans lies in their ability to create a sense of ownership and alignment with company performance. This can increase engagement, as employees understand their efforts can influence their career progression and economic gains. The vesting schedule of stock options and RSUs/PSUs encourages employees to stay with the company longer to reap the full benefits of their equity. This can be particularly effective in industries with high turnover rates.

Moreover, equity plans can contribute to employees' sense of belonging, fostering a culture of collaboration and commitment. This can improve job satisfaction, as employees perceive their roles as significant and impactful. Employees who feel they are working towards a common goal are more likely to collaborate effectively. This team-oriented culture can enhance productivity and innovation, driving the company forward in a competitive market.

Equity plans also work on a psychological level to boost motivation. According to motivational theories, such as Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory, job satisfaction and motivation are highly influenced by ‘motivators' such as recognition, responsibility and personal growth. At the same time, ‘hygiene' factors such as salary, working conditions and company policies can minimize dissatisfaction.

Companies can tap into these motivators by offering equity plan solutions that provide employees recognition, responsibility and growth opportunities. Receiving equity is a form of recognition, signaling trust and value in an employee's contributions. This recognition can boost morale and motivate employees to perform at high levels. With equity, employees often feel greater responsibility in contributing to the company's performance. Lastly, as the company grows, so does the value of employees' equity in the business. This can encourage them to develop their skills and competencies further.

Equity plans can motivate and retain employees by giving them a stake in the company's success and leveling up their well-being. When done correctly, equity plans can transform an ordinary workforce into a motivated, committed team striving for shared success and driving sustainable business growth.

TSX Trust specializes in helping companies align their strategic objectives and employee engagement goals by designing customized equity plan solutions that contribute to a positive work environment. To learn more about how we can help your company enhance employee engagement and business success, visit

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