hand_shakeIn November, the Braas Company in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, celebrated its newest employees becoming “Certified Employee Owners” (CEOs). They also cheered the veteran employees who “recertified” as CEOs by completing each section of the company’s innovative educational program.

The CEO Program — created more than twelve years ago by energetic members of the company’s ESOP Education Committee (EEC) — is an important tool for sustaining and growing the company’s culture of shared responsibility. For many years, EEC members taught their co-workers the practical curriculum via the CEO handbook in one-on-one and small group sessions. As the company grew and changed, the program evolved into a series of two-hour classroom-style seminars.

The Braas Company CEO Program/Handbook covers the following topics:

  • ESOP Mechanics — answers the essential “what’s in it for me” questions about the rules and the inner workings of Braas’ retirement plan.
  • Financial Statements — provides a guide to financial concepts needed to understand the company’s routine financial communication.
  • Company Culture — explains the roles and responsibilities of employee owners including values, beliefs and mission of the company.
  • Stock Valuation — takes the mystery out of the annual ESOP appraisal process by explaining how employees drive stock value in their daily work.
  • Business Operations — builds a “big picture” view of the business; participants follow an order through Braas’ business.

A key learning goal of the “Certified Employee Owner” Program is a developing a deeper understanding about how everyone – from the CEO (the Chief Executive Officer, that is) to entry level employees must do their part to create success. The CEO Program anchors ideas about shared responsibility into the fabric of everyday work.

While the program is focused on building practical skills and knowledge, it also fosters a positive culture through employee recognition. Employees receive a plaque and a nice logo shirt for participating, but to the real reward is being part of the team. “The program is about public recognition of being part of the club,” says Janis Negratti-Samuel, Human Resources Director for the Braas Company. “A majority of our employees choose to get recertified each year.”

In conjunction with the Braas Company, Workplace Development is pleased to offer this award-winning educational program to other ESOP companies. The customized CEO Program brings your company the following benefits:

  • Templates for ESOP and business education
  • Field-tested methods to build understanding and enthusiasm for ownership
  • A practical process that creates internal appreciation and expertise about the ESOP
  • An award-winning, custom ownership handbook that can be used again and again
  • A vehicle to engage new employees who have yet to receive an ESOP statement

Learn how you can customize the “CEO Program” for your company by contacting Cathy Ivancic at Workplace Development Inc. at 330-896-7285. Click here to request information by email. Using the field-tested experience of the Braas Company and our experience from hundreds of successful ESOPs, the CEO Program enables an internal team of employees, company leaders or your ESOP communication committee to create and sustain your own success story.