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ESOP Association Blog

Raising Awareness is a Key Factor to Expanding Employee Ownership in America

The ESOP Association
ESOP Group with Iowa Governor Reynolds

Happy Employee Ownership Month! It’s a special time for a special community.  Employee owners nationwide celebrate with tremendous pride. It’s a great time to reflect on the 11 million-plus employee owners in America who not only enjoy the individual benefits that accompany employee ownership, but also the contributions to communities and the social good that employee ownership adds.  We know we have a cause worth celebrating but also one – in the very nature of employee ownership – worth sharing.   

Many company celebrations are internal, which promotes both a fun and informed office culture – a key foundation for any successful employee-owned businesses.  Other celebrations are out in the community, with service projects or other public events, that show the involvement and impact employee owners have right in our communities.  Another way to celebrate is seeking a proclamation from your elected officials that October is Employee Ownership Month.  Efforts like this raise awareness about employee ownership and its benefits.  

This year, The ESOP Association has seen proclamations from a handful of states in this regard – Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, and Iowa for example.  We are thrilled and thankful that the efforts of TEA advocates have met with success in this area.  Requesting a proclamation from a state governor is usually a simple process, but what if you’ve never done it before?  TEA provides a resource kit that you can utilize to help get started.  

“What’s the value in a proclamation?” you might think, and that’s a good question.  Things won’t change overnight because a governor, for example, issued a proclamation and press release about employee ownership.  But there is real value in any awareness effort where a month or a day recognizes a particular cause because it’s looking to the future.  And promoting employee ownership has never been more important than now.

Why? Because our nation is facing a business succession wave like we’ve never seen before.  Nearly 3 million firms representing more than 32 million employees and $6.5 trillion in revenue are owned by baby boomers – about half of all privately held firms in the United States.  Yet more than half (some studies show more like three-quarters) of these businesses have no succession plan.  If just a very small percentage of them – 1% even – chose to sell to their employees via an ESOP, we’d see a massive expansion of employee ownership.  Think about what that would mean to our country.   

Workers across the nation are looking for more purpose-driven employment, seeking a voice in key decisions, and eager for ways to build real wealth. Businesses are looking to decrease worker turnover, increase productivity, and retain the best talent. Communities are seeking to keep their economic anchors from departing or closing. Employee ownership isn’t some magic wand – but it does offer solutions to many of those issues.  And the more people know these facts, the more our community is likely to grow.    

Employee ownership deserves greater awareness throughout all levels of government and business.  Awareness campaigns are often a call to action for those who are already involved, supportive, or otherwise engaged, while at the same time raising awareness for those who may not already be informed or interested in the cause.   

Take a moment to get involved, and help promote employee ownership not just for your company, but for the workers across the nation searching for so many of the things employee ownership can offer.