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Recruiting and Retention Series: Using Employee Stock Ownership Plans to Attract and Keep Talent

Recruiting and Retention Series: Using Employee Stock Ownership Plans to Attract and Keep Talent

By Bridget McCrea

This tED 30-Under-35 winner enjoys the benefits of working for a distributorship where employees have a stake in the company.

An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) can be a strong recruiting tool, particularly in a tight labor market where the next job opportunity is right around the next corner. After all, when workers have some skin in the game and an interest in the company’s overall well-being and success, the idea is that they’ll do what’s best for the firm’s shareholders (i.e., themselves).

“Although it’s hard to quantify worker happiness,” writes Jen Hubley Luckwaldt in Do Employee-Owned Companies Make for Happier Workers?,“employees at ESOP companies provide plenty of anecdotes suggesting that having a stake in the business makes people feel better about going to work.”

Mac Doyle knows exactly how that feels. As an account manager for Shealy Electrical Wholesalers’ (a division of Border States Electric) construction division, Doyle joined the company five years ago. “We’re now one of the largest 100% employee-owned companies in the country,” says Doyle, who often talks to new employees and recruits about this benefit.

“I tell a lot of people that I interview or work with that if they stay here long enough and put in the time, they’ll be set up for success later on in life,” says Doyle. “Not only is there a great feeling of ‘ownership’ around here, but if you can find a role (or roles) that suit you well and you stick with it, there’s also a payout waiting for you at the end.”

Right Out of College
Doyle joined Shealy Electrical right out of college and learned about the distributorship through a training program that it was promoting at the time. Over a 2-year time span, new recruits learned all of the intricacies of the electrical distribution world—from the logistics side of the business to counter work to customer service, and everything in between. On a monthly basis, participants would get together with the company’s managers and leaders to discuss “big picture” issues like why the firm aligns itself with certain suppliers, what customers want, and its critical role in the electrical supply chain.

“It was just a really good program to help us see the big picture in what we do as a company,” Doyle explains. “Sometimes it can difficult to understand distribution’s role as a middleman, and how we add value both for customers and for suppliers.”

After successfully completing the training program in 2014, Doyle was offered the role of operations manager for the company’s newest location in Raleigh, N.C. “I did that for about a year,” he says, “and when a position opened up out on the street, calling on contractors, I decided to take it.” He’s been in that position for about 18 months, but won’t be for much longer. “Just this month I accepted a promotion,” says Doyle, “and I’ll be moving to Charleston, S.C., to be a branch manager.”

Knowing What’s Ahead
As a recent college grad with numerous opportunities to choose from, Doyle says Shealy Electric stood out for its forward-thinking ways and potential career and promotional opportunities. “Border States appears to be the same exact way,” says Doyle, “and knows that to grow and thrive in today’s business world you have to continue moving forward and thinking ahead.”

Doyle says that “forward thinking” approach directly impacts the individual employee who wants to keep pushing ahead with his or her own career. “The company makes a financial investment in training and is prepping us for positions that might not even be available yet,” says Doyle, “and that limits it from having to continually scour the market for talent to cover the bases.”

The distributor is also good about “shining a light” on the future and helping employees like Doyle understand what’s ahead on their career path. For example, he says his first role within the 2-year training program was in the warehouse—not exactly a position that a recent college grad would expect to fill six months out of school.

But Doyle says he’s wasn’t worried about the entry-level nature of his position. “The company was very transparent about the fact that I needed to know how the warehouse works,” he explains, “because one day, when a situation or challenges arise in any area of the company, we all need to be able to understand that aspect of the distribution channel.”

 

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

 

 

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