As more employees across both public and private companies recognize equity as a valuable workplace benefit, they may seek help to better understand how their equity works and how it can help them achieve both their financial and life goals.
While it is common for companies to have a basic equity education plan for their shareholders, a more robust strategy can potentially drive greater engagement and participation. Based on the thousands of equity plans we have helped support over the year, here are the three tips that we believe can help to improve an equity participant education strategy:
1. Expanding Education Beyond Equity
Planning education around the basics of equity ownership is foundational—such as how options or RSUs work, exercising or releasing, etc. However, companies that expand education to a broader set of financial topics can potentially drive greater participant interest and engagement.
Shareholders may have very different financial situations and needs; some could be recent graduates with considerable student loan debt, and others may be seasoned executives looking to plan for retirement.
Administrators may simultaneously increase engagement and show employees that they support their financial well-being by expanding educational modules to include retirement and tax planning, managing finances during high inflation or recessions and other relevant topics. Including these topics in equity education can help shareholders better understand how their equity supports their financial health.
2. Plan Out Educational Content Strategically
Even the most robust education program can underperform if it’s not designed to maximize participant engagement. Shareholders have busy lives and limited time in the day to attend webinars and information sessions. When creating their educational content calendar, administrators may want to keep the following scheduling practices in mind:
- Avoid busy and stressful periods like new product launches, quarterly earnings, or annual/semi-annual performance reviews.
- Have a steady cadence of content dispersed throughout the year.
- Wherever possible, try to schedule education sessions based around timely events. For example, host a session on tax planning several weeks before the tax filing deadline or a refresher on equity before a planned liquidity event.
3. Keep Events Personal and Engaging
Participants are likely to lose focus quickly if subjected to overly lengthy, boring Zoom presentations. A mix of in-person and virtual events is ideal, though not every company with remote employees can accommodate them. To further improve engagement, adding a Q&A session at the end of each presentation may also be helpful. Post-event, shareholders may also appreciate one-on-one follow-up and guidance from a financial advisor (which Morgan Stanley at Work clients receive as a benefit).
Education is a core component of equity plan management. A thoughtful, relevant content calendar and engagement strategy can help plan administrators maximize the benefits of participant education and help employees thrive.