By Kyla Alterman
When long-term employees know the tremendous value of the ESOP but your newer employees are unaware, the standard ESOP 101 presentation at the annual meeting is not enough. Bayer Construction Company headquartered in Manhattan, Kansas, noticed that its more senior employees understood the plan rules, financial benefits and cultural advantages they enjoyed as an employee-owned company, but the newer employees did not.
Each year at the annual meeting, Bayer Construction reveals the new stock value and hands out stock certificates, but executive leader Peter Clark felt the overall awareness of how the ESOP works and how employee efforts impact the ESOP was low. “Normally our annual meeting has 150 employees attending, so we don’t get many questions and dialogue,” shared Clark. With only two or three people asking questions about the ESOP each year, Bayer Construction decided to reach out to its people in a way that would make it easier to get people talking about the company’s unique and valuable ownership structure.
Clark thought a game or simulation on how the ESOP works could capture the attention of newer employees at Bayer Construction. “After seeing Workplace Development present in a Menke Group webinar about interactive learning services, I pitched it to our company’s Board and they agreed that ESOP education needed to improve. People choose to act differently when they understand the connection between our production and stock level.” Workplace Development worked with Bayer Construction to create a customized presentation with interactive activities that Bayer Construction leaders could deliver themselves.
“For our new training program, we broke our employees into individual crews of 6-8 people. The crews allow employees to be with people they are already comfortable with, so they don’t mind asking simple questions that they’d be embarrassed to ask in front of others,” said Clark. “We were able to give them the details they are really looking for about how the ESOP impacts them and how they directly impact the ESOP.”
Bayer Construction used bad weather days when crews couldn’t be out in the field to bring them in for a few hours of training and treats. Over the winter the company was able to train 90% of its employees and plan to train the final 10% in the coming months. “We’ve had a great reception,” said Clark. “Employees started to see that they all can have an impact on our ESOP, regardless of their role in the company. The ability to make a profit depends on how we perform on site. You could see the heads nodding during the training, and great questions were asked. They were really digging into the material.”
The Workplace Development training was designed for Clark and the ESOP board to deliver on their own. “It’s pretty self-explanatory with all the instructions provided by Workplace Development. Our plan is to keep using the training, especially for new employees, and update it as time allows with more current information. The training program is what I was hoping for. It explained the mechanics, made it all into a game, and created a good atmosphere where people were at ease. It was worth the investment,” said Clark.
Looking to raise the level of ESOP awareness at your company to improve appreciation of this great benefit? Contact Kyla Alterman at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn about how Workplace Development can create customized training for your company.