What changes are companies making to their existing plans?
  • To be more competitive in attracting and retaining talent, some larger companies have modified their existing programs or introduced rich new programs with a 12- or 24-month offering period, resets, and rollover provisions.
What are some of the interesting features we see new plans utilizing?
  • When designing a plan, most companies are now implementing non-traditional offering period start dates and purchase dates that are not aligned to the calendar year so the plan is not competing with other priorities.
Is there a specific challenge you had to manage regarding your plan and how did you overcome it?
  • Review plan design – Even when your plan is working well, it is good to review it occasionally to see if it can be improved for both participants and shareholders.
  • Measuring program success – A challenge companies face is how they measure success. Many organizations use ESPP participation rates as the main metric, but this misses out on other important factors. As an example, consider contribution levels and how many employees are contributing the maximum allowable under the plan.

ESPP benefits, challenges and successes webinar

Based on a panel discussion, industry experts discuss ESPP best practices, challenges and successes, and strategies for optimizing your plan.

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How does your organization communicate the plan and plan enrollments to your employees?
  • Information for new hires – When new hires are given information about the benefit package such as medical, dental and 401K or RRSP, it is good to also include details about the ESPP, how it works and the advantages of participating. Many companies find that employees are more likely to enroll in the ESPP if they can do so when they are signing up for other benefits.
  • Intranet or HR portal – Include information about the full company benefits package, including the ESPP with an overview of plan highlights, instructions on how to enroll and make changes, and links to the plan management portal.
  • HR manager education – Be sure that HR managers in every region your plan is offered are well-informed about all aspects of the program and can answer employee questions.
  • Use multiple channels – Employees have different preferences for how they consume information so use multiple channels for your ESPP campaigns – email, text, portal banners, videos, in-person workshops and virtual webinars.
  • ESPP campaign timing – Plan your campaign around annual events like “financial literacy month” when finances are top of mind for many people.
What are some of the benefits your company has enjoyed as a result of having an ESPP?
  • Employee ownership – Offering an ESPP supports a strong “behave like an owner” philosophy. It gives employees the opportunity to share in the long-term financial success of the organization – when they have a financial stake in the business, they are more likely to make decisions and take actions that will positively impact the company.
  • High enrollment rates – Some employees use the ESPP as an extra retirement vehicle to enhance their 401K or RRSP. With the ESPP, they are able to put away more money for retirement or a rainy day and can access the funds if they need them.
What feedback have you received from your employees that have joined the plan?
  • One common comment many companies hear is that when employees understand the plan and its benefits, they wish they had enrolled sooner.
  • Participants have become knowledgeable on how the plan works. They take the time to read the plan information materials and speak with a financial advisor to determine the best way to take advantage of the plan for their specific situation.

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