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Posted by Pat Raskob

Is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Suitable for Your Business

Is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Suitable for Your Business

Would it be a good idea if workers in a company own stocks in that same company? The ESOP answers that question. ESOP is known as the employee stock ownership program.

The employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a retirement plan that allows workers to own part of the company in stocks. The selling shareholder, in this case, is the company. Of course, the benefits are immediately apparent. When workers also own shares in a company, they will work hard to make it more valuable. The plan also comes with various tax benefits.

The idea is that workers who own stocks in a firm would have their goals aligned with shareholders, thereby boosting productivity.

The strategy also helps keep succession seamless since it could also be used to reward the most loyal staff whose efforts have helped keep the company moving forward.


How can employees own stocks in a company?

Employers who own the most of their net worth in their business may begin to think about keeping the business going after they step aside. Rewarding employees with some of those stocks is a smart way to do that. They are appreciated for a job well done, and they can keep the flag flying since they are now part owners of the company.

Employees can own stocks in a company in different ways. They include

  • Receiving them as a bonus

  • Receiving them as stock options

  • Receiving them through direct purchase, known as an employee stock ownership plan

The difference between ESOP and other plans is that it is a retirement plan, so it comes with special tax benefits for the company and the employee. The employee stock ownership plan as a retirement plan allows workers to own part of a company as a benefit.

The plan can be in different forms, including a choice to allow them to contribute to the scheme. Otherwise, the workers may be granted shares outright.

How it works

Regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Employee stock ownership plan is designed to exist as a fund set aside, purchased from existing shareholders by the employer. Employees are then offered those shares through special accounts designed for the employees. Different criteria can determine how many shares each worker is allocated, but it is often based on their annual salary.

Accordingly, the shares accumulate gradually until the worker's retirement, although the worker doesn't have to contribute anything most of the time. The shares continue to accumulate until the worker is ready to cash them out when leaving. Sometimes, either as a special arrangement or otherwise, the worker may sell the shares back to the employer.

It is believed that the employees may not enjoy the full benefits of the stock ownership plan unless it is well regulated, as there have been instances where they are not offered a fair market value when they eventually pull out of the system. That is why the plan is regulated for best practices.

But any company that offers ESOP is always favored by employees who see it as evidence of prioritizing the well-being and future of the workers. That's one of the reasons why ESOP has steadily grown in popularity over the years, with more than 14 million workers actively participating in close to 7,000 ESOP schemes.

Is ESOP good for your business?

Because contributions to the ESOP are tax-deductible, they are very popular. Earnings that are attributable to shares in the ESOP are also not taxable. That's not the only advantage for the business, as workers would rather work at a company that offers one. That means your business would attract the best workers. Remember, the workers would benefit from contributing to a retirement plan without paying taxes. They are only taxed when they cash out on retirement. 

It is excellent for businesses and companies that offer the plan as they have more motivated workers, which is the bedrock of productivity. The workers not only look forward to retirement, but they also work passionately during their service years to boost the company.



Pat Raskob
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