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Five Things You Can Do RIGHT Now to Increase ESPP Participation 

Regardless of season, it always feels like employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) enrollment is right around the corner. And, if you’re like most companies, you’re likely pondering how to make this year better than the last. Success for most companies means participation, and participation requires that you have an effective way of getting your employees to pay attention to deadlines (and understand what they mean).

To do this as a stock plan administrator, you have to cut through the noise and the stress that your employees generally experience as part of their day-to-day office life. Sometimes it’s easy, but often – it’s really hard! So, to help you make the most of the next few weeks, we’ve compiled a list of the things you can do RIGHT NOW that may help attract employee attention to your plan (and the associated deadlines):

1 – Do A Treat Drop 

Everyone enjoys a treat, and you can use that to your advantage. Ride the coattails of an upcoming holiday and do a themed, branded treat drop! Find a treat (healthy or otherwise, perhaps a frosted cookie or a branded pen or notepad), and drop it off on the desk of each employee you’d like to reach. The treat is only part of the equation – add a branded note with each treat to really emphasize your message.

The note card should be specific, and concise – the instructions should include only what you need the employee to know or do. This includes any deadlines or important dates, and the action you want them to take.

2 – Host Open Office Hours

Office hours provide an open avenue for your employees to get their questions answered in a one-on-one setting (may be less intimidating than raising a hand in a large group). Find an open but informal space, like a breakroom or other open lounge area, and post up for a specific time frame.

To maximize your time, try to promote your scheduled office hours a few days in advance. Word of mouth can help too: by asking people if they have any questions they’d like to share, you can direct their attendance to the office hours and tell them to bring a friend. Not only can you answer their personalized questions, you can put a friendly face and a tailored message to their participation in your plan.

3 – Start a Whisper Campaign 

Often used by realtors and marketing gurus, a whisper campaign can help turn the masses into your personal communication tool. It’s easy in principle: you tell a few people about the hidden value of their ESPP participation, and how rare it is that employees truly recognize that value. They’ll then tell their colleagues, who will tell their colleagues, and so on until the “secret” value of your ESPP program has been shared throughout the organization.

There are some risks with a whisper campaign, most of all that people might not think the news is worth repeating. However, the more people you speak with about the plan, the more the knowledge will pervade your employee base. It’s good to get people buzzing in advance of key dates, because it generates more interest and more outreach to you and the resources that (ideally) are in place.

4 – Try The Old Standby – Email

Email is a much maligned method of communication, however it still has its place. It can be effective, when used in an effective way. Interesting subject lines, bulleted ‘why you should care’ or ‘what you should do’ lists, and thoughtful but persistent follow up can take a blah email and make it more impactful. Particularly before key deadlines, email is an easy way to share information and give reminders for required activities.

Targeted emails tend to be more effective than a generic email to a large group. Think about different teams, or other dividing lines that could make a difference on the message.

5 – Go Viral 

As you’ve probably seen, there are a quite a few short, fun videos making the rounds on social media. People love the brevity and humor of a short video: it’s easy to watch, share, and remember. You can use this to your advantage when trying to get employee attention and make a memorable impression. Grab your smartphone, get a quick, fun message outlined, record, and share!

It doesn’t have to be brilliant, but enough to be memorable. A catchphrase, or a date repeated as the chorus to a well-known song, anything like that would be fun and catchy enough to get on camera and share with your employees. Get creative, and be wowed by the response (just be sure to either include or direct them to the information you need them to know).

Perhaps the tips above seem commonplace or too wild. However, all five may spark some creativity in you and help you go beyond the boundaries of your typical communication protocol. With enrollment right around the corner, now’s the time to go big or go home (your employees will thank you).

Need a better solution for managing the back-end of your ESPP, see how Shareworks can help.


CRC 3572203 (05/21)