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The Employee Ownership Report

NewsletterConcisely written for leaders in employee ownership companies and for service providers in the field, the NCEO's bimonthly newsletter, the Employee Ownership Report, is the most efficient way to stay informed about legal issues, current events, best practices, breaking research, management approaches, and communications ideas for employee ownership companies.

Available exclusively to NCEO members, the Employee Ownership Report is delivered in hard copy and all issues back to 1997 are available in the members-only area of the Web site.

Nonmembers are invited to read the sample article below from the current issue of the newsletter. Every time a new issue appears, the sample article on this page will be replaced by one from the new issue. Join online for only $90 to receive the Employee Ownership Report and all our other membership benefits.

Read a sample issue of the entire newsletter (September-October 2015).

Sample Article from the January-February 2018 Issue:

Seven Things the Conference Can Help Your Company Do Better

Year after year, people come to the NCEO's annual conference with big questions on their minds: who should own my company after me? Should I invite an outsider onto the board of directors? Do I want to be an employee-owner? How should we respond to a letter from the Department of Labor? Can my company become majority employee-owned and maintain its status as a woman-owned business? What can I do to make people "get it"?

People might find the right answer to their question in a specific piece of information from a lawyer, a financial advisor, a professional trustee, or an appraiser. Or they might have a heart-to-heart conversation on a difficult decision from someone who has been there before. People come to get a "crash course" in employee owners as a new officer or director of a company, or they may bring a large group of people to generate a critical mass of enthusiastic people inside. Some people come to be inspired by success stories and compelling speakers.

Whatever they come for, the NCEO works hard so that people can leave the conference able to better accomplish tasks and make good decisions for their companies. Below are some of the areas conference attendees will focus on.

1. Being smart about cyber security

If hackers can steal information from Equifax, then everyone responsible for the security of digital information needs to take steps to protect their data. The conference has sessions on electronic notification, cyber security of your internal data, and what fiduciaries need to know.

2. Ah ha! Finding the key to communication

Explaining employee ownership can be like explaining baseball - it's hard to know where to start, and the more you talk, the more complex it gets. One approach is to start simple and systematically build up to more complex issues, and sessions like "Now I Get It! Explaining ESOPs to Frontline Employees," "Fearless: How to Open The Books, Get Buy-In, and Execution," "Engaging People Who Work Remotely," "Messaging Employee Ownership to Millennials," and "Investing in Communications: Keeping Your ESOP Ever-Fresh" will give hands-on tools, many developed by ESOP companies, that the audience can take home and use.

3. Keeping up to date on legal issues

From tax reform to litigation to anticipated regulatory changes, the legal landscape for employee ownership is changing. Various sessions will help trustees understand what recent litigation means for how they evaluate the appraiser report, what impact tax reform might have on stock options or ESOPs, and what to expect from the Trump Administration's Department of Labor.

4. Evaluating employee ownership

If you are thinking about employee ownership for your company, you are likely thinking about how the transaction might work out, including financing, stock valuation, and whom you might need to hire. You may not be thinking about other factors that make for a decision you will be happy with in the long run, such as the impact of plan design on year 10 of employee ownership, the importance of the announcement of the plan to the work force, and how to adapt your company's governance structures. The conference includes speakers from professionals, but also from people who set up ESOPs decades ago and can share thoughts about factors that have not been part of your thought process.

5. Anticipate the next challenge

You can't predict the future, but you can learn from people whose companies are further down the employee ownership road than yours. Speakers from mature employee owned companies will tell you what they wish they had known, and other sessions will deal with specific topics that your company should be ready to handle, from the challenge of predicting and managing the repurchase obligation to smooth leadership transitions. As the title of one session puts it, "Don't Put Your ESOP on Autopilot."

6. Getting the incentives right

The connections between the compensation system and employee ownership are complicated, and finding the best possible fit requires companies to understand the legal framework, to ensure that their governance system is adequate, and to consider what the compensation system does to the company's culture. Sessions at the conference will cover forms of cash and non-cash compensation while helping companies navigate around common cultural and legal pitfalls.

7. Changing what work feels like

Having an ownership stake does not automatically make people feel like owners. Creating that feeling means changing the way people experience their jobs. If your company has been employee-owned for a few years, you may want to attend the session "Culture Jamming: Strategies For When Your Ownership Culture is Struggling," which will help companies regain their excitement around employee ownership. You may also want to attend the highestrated session from last year's conference, "How the Rules of Improv Can Improve Your Business and Culture" to learn how simple principles that make stand-up comedy work can also bring new life to your day-to-day company culture.

The conference program ( has over 130 sessions, from current events and brand-new topics to time-tested essentials and popular sessions from prior years. We would be happy to see you in Atlanta, April 18 to 20 (preconference on April 17).