How to Engage Participants at a Private Company

September 24, 2019 Hannah Bloomfield

Take a look at this scenario: your employer offers a 401k retirement program with a contribution match(also known as free money), but you decide it’s too complicated to take advantage of the program and thus, no free money for you. Sounds crazy right?

Now, take a look at your company’s stock plan. It’s a company benefit, just like a 401k plan. If you’ve been granted stock options and you aren’t taking advantage of them, you’re not just missing out on a company benefit, you’re actively throwing away part of your compensation. Just like you wouldn’t throw away cash, you shouldn’t be ignoring your stock options either.
If you’re a stock plan administrator then you are all too familiar with the scenario above. It can be frustrating knowing that your participants, well, aren’t participating. As part of our annual Stocktoberfest, we’re going to help you boost participant engagement by tackling the problems holding your stock plan back.


Why Don’t Your Stock Option Holders Use Their Equity Compensation? 

As with many other company benefits, understanding how to use them can be complicated and the learning curve can be steep. Often times, participants are intimidated by talk of RSUs and NSOs, resulting in a lack of engagement and a rush to exercise their options at the last minute.
Another common obstacle to overcome is the perception of what compensation is. When participants don’t see their stock options as compensation they are not incentivized to engage their plan. Your stock option holders zoom past the Culture of Ownership exit on the highway of their careers, never utilizing the momentum those options were meant to create.


Changing what compensation looks like, requires a few things:
  • A view into the dollar-amount value of their holdings
  • A better understanding of how taxes affect their equity compensation
  • An avenue toward liquidity
  • Acknowledgment that they’re leaving money on the table

How Can You Increase Participation in Your Equity Plan?

It starts with education. A lot of the problem stems from misconceptions, so the more clarity you can bring to your option holders, the more likely they are to engage. Give your participants the tools to learn about their equity compensation.


You can use Stocktoberfest tools to help you.
After educating participants, it’s time to empower them to take ownership of their equity package with access to their holdings, a dollar-amount view of their shares, insight into their vesting schedule and a technology-driven path to exercise their options.
  • Accept grants electronically
  • View holdings and vesting schedules
  • See the appreciation of value in dollars
  • Access equity anywhere with our mobile app
  • Notifications to encourage exercise before the last minute
  • Termination forecast statements to make transitions easier
A view of Shareworks Participant Experience

With our equity management solutions, participants see the real impact of their equity grants.


A view of Shareworks Participant Experience Exercise

It’s easy to convert options to shares with in-app exercise.


You can also strategically incorporate your 409A valuations to motivate participant engagement. When participants see your company value going up, they’re more excited and motivated by the appreciation of their equity holdings and they start to see their path forward.


What Can You Do Today?

Stock Plan Administrators want to see their plans succeed. This isn’t a“take it or leave it” situation for them; they’re invested in the success of their employees and shareholders. So what, as a Stock Plan Admin, can you do right now to improve the performance of your equity plan?
Here are Three Things:
  1. Share the excitement and build a culture of ownership at your company by hosting your own fireside chat to talk about equity.
  2. Post your most recent 409A valuation to build momentum and motivation among shareholders and grant holders alike.
  3. Get your HR team involved. Equity is not only a motivational tool. It’s a retention and recruitment tool, and our compensation solutions help you stay competitive. Learn more here. 


When employee equity goes unused, it’s not just a waste for them, but a waste for the company too. Learn more about how to manage a successful equity plan with Shareworks Academy.

About the Author

Hannah Bloomfield

Hannah Bloomfield started as a content marketing manager with Shareworks Startup Edition. Her experience with equity compensation stems from direct interviews and research with top experts from Shareworks by Morgan Stanley. She has since moved into a marketing program role working directly with our Global Private Market team to bring the most recent and relevant information on equity to the world's top private companies.

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