ESOPs and Employee Health? Think “Hand and Glove”

Job openings are everywhere. Meanwhile, unemployment remains stubbornly high. How can these two conflicting realities coexist?

The reasons are many. Surveys of prospective employees pull back the curtain on the “whys.” One is always in the mix: Many workers remain unsure of the true state of the COVID-19 pandemic and don’t feel comfortable returning to a job.

This is a high hurdle for any potential employer needing labor. The obvious answers – implementing vaccine mandates or other requirements – are controversial. Is there another option?

Yes – if an organization can point to a prior strong track record of keeping employees safe. And, once again, a certain class of companies leads the pack: those with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).

Who Looked Out for Workers?

A 2020 study conducted by Rutgers University and the SSRS survey firm found that, as the impact of COVID-19 grew, ESOP organizations acted more quickly to protect employees than other companies.

“In short, majority ESOP companies seemed to focus more on preventing infections, while other companies seemed to focus more on identifying infections after they occurred,” the study states.

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. By this time, more than half (53.7%) of ESOP companies had already initiated protective measures. The rate among other organizations: 41.3%.

The proactivity of ESOP organizations continued. More than 85% sent employees to work from home, compared to 66.8% of other businesses. ESOP companies were also more likely to offer personal protective equipment (such as masks and gloves) and provide sanitizing or professional cleaning.

ESOPs and Employee Health

Proactivity Leads to Resilience

By every measure, ESOP businesses took better care of employees during the pandemic than their counterparts. Our last post detailed how ESOPs were far less likely to reduce workers’ hours. A prior post explained that ESOPs had a fraction – less than 25 percent – of the layoffs of non-ESOP organizations.

“The stark differences between the ESOP and other firms was not in their recognition of the shock of the pandemic, but their response to it,” the Rutgers/SSRS study states. “The results show that ESOP firms were more resilient in responding to the shock in specific ways.”

Resiliency? It’s a strong, valuable trait by anyone’s measure. Apparently, this quality made the impact of COVID-19 far less devastating to workers in ESOP companies than others. Wouldn’t this organizational characteristic be appealing to potential new employees?

With so many organizations scratching their heads about navigating a sudden labor scarcity, there might be no better time to find out. Contact Excel Legacy Group to learn why employees love working for ESOP companies and how this translates into attracting (and keeping) a strong workforce. You can’t go wrong being resilient, right?