Unique Findings from New National ESOP Employee Survey

For the last three years, the Employee Ownership Foundation has funded the National ESOP Employee Survey through Louis O. Kelso Fellowships at the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. 1500 employees at ten ESOP companies participated in the most recent scientific and authoritative employee survey ever done of ESOP employees.

Below are questions and the results of those questions provided by the team at Rutgers.

Question 1: How do ESOP Workers Compare Their ESOP Company Job to Their Previous Non-ESOP Employer?

Results: If all the research that you have heard over the years about the better deal for workers at ESOP companies is the case, then you should see evidence of this when current ESOP workers compare their ESOP job to their previous non-ESOP employer.

For the first time in research on ESOPs, the answer is now known. ESOP workers consider the ESOP to be a better employer in terms of total pay, job security, pension/ health insurance/paid vacation benefits, and the same in the opportunity to participate in making workplace decisions.

Employee involvement in making decisions at the job and department level is spreading in the U.S. and ESOPs need to do more if they are to lead in this area.

Question 2: How do ESOP Versus Non-ESOP Workers Rate Their Companies on Corporate Social Responsibility?

Results: ESOP workers evaluate their companies as more socially and environmentally responsible than workers

at non-ESOP companies. The differences are significant suggesting for the first time that ESOPs may be creating different kinds of corporations in addition to a different kind of employee relationship.

Question 3: How Valuable Are ESOP Communications?

Result: When ESOP employees give ESOP communications a high positive score, these ESOP employees have significantly higher:

  • job satisfaction
  • organizational commitment
  • loyalty to the company
  • organizational citizenship behaviors
  • feelings of psychological ownership
  • and intention to stay with their ESOP company into the future and not leave

This is evidence that ESOP communications are not just window dressing or a set of disparate or random activities. All together they make a huge difference. This suggests that investments in ESOP committee’s ESOP communications’ budgets will have a high payoff.

Question 4: Do ESOP Employees Help Each Other More?

Result: Recent scientific research in human resource management has been focused on what is called organizational citizenship behaviors. These are measurements not of how hard the individual worker works but how willing each worker is willing to go above and beyond his or her job to help fellow employees. Examples of organizational citizenship behaviors are encouraging others workers to find more effective ways of doing their job, helping others who have large amounts of work, and willingness to share expertise with co-workers. For the first time this study compared ESOP company employees to employees who do not work in ESOP companies across the nation on organizational citizenship behaviors. The survey found ESOP employees have significantly more organizational citizenship behaviors than employees not working in ESOP companies.

Question 5: What Is the Largest Future ESOP Challenge?

Result: For the first time, the largest ESOP organizational challenge can be identified. The challenge is to find a way to involve far more women in the ESOP world. Women make up 50% of the U.S. population but only 37% of ESOP employees according to the most recent General Social Survey sponsored by the Employee Ownership Foundation. A key reason is that industries where ESOPs have been concentrated like manufacturing, professional services, construction, and finance have traditionally had less female

representation. There is a gap in the sizes of ESOP accounts for women also. In the future, ESOP companies will need to hire far more women with the levels of education, training, and seniority that men have traditionally held, in order to have comparable ESOP account values.