Giving Employees a Stake

People who have a stake in the outcome tend to be more engaged and productive at work. They’re also happier. I’m sure there’s research out there to back me up on this belief, but I can tell you from personal experience that it’s definitely true.

At Intertech, we have long offered such benefits as equity participation to all employees, bonuses tied to performance, paid overtime and annual dividend payments on equity shares (even though we are a privately held company). These benefits allow all of our employees to share in the rewards when we do well. It also creates a culture where everyone – has a stake in our success or failure. (For me and the rest of the leadership team, we take significant hits to our personal compensation if Intertech isn’t hitting targets.)

Beyond compensating people competitively and making sure they have a stake in our success, I believe it’s also important to create a culture that values the contribution of everyone. That’s not just lip service. We invest in a process to make sure all of our employees have a chance to speak their minds. It’s called our annual town hall and it is held without the presence of any senior managers present to encourage candor.

The feedback from this half-day session, which costs us about $15,000 to host each year since billable employees are “idle” for those hours  — is formally presented to the senior leadership team as part of our annual company planning retreat. Many ideas from employees have been incorporated over the years. When we can’t use employee recommendations, we make a point of letting them know why not.

Creating a work environment that values the contributions of every employee also can mean deflating the egos of senior management. After years of toiling in the spare bedroom of my first apartment and then moving to a serviceable retail strip mall location as we built this company, we have finally moved to a first class building of our own. As the plans were worked out for our fine new space, we had to make choices about those two coveted “corner offices.” It wasn’t tough to decide that the people handling our finances and hiring should have them because of their need for confidentiality and filing space.

You’ve probably guessed by now that even though I’m the founder and CEO, I won’t be putting my feet up on a desk in a swanky corner office. That’s ok by me! I know that my people appreciate working in a company that makes decisions based on fairness and logic, not ego.

Next Post: What the research shows.