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Employee Shareholdership: The Ultimate Engagement and Retention Model

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Jonas Herinckx
Marketing Advisor

Some people prefer to keep their money in a savings account to face life's unexpected events. Others invest it, either in real estate, the stock market, or cryptocurrencies. But did you know that there are firms that offer their employees the opportunity to acquire shares?

Easi is one of those pioneering companies. Early on, the company implement an employee shareholdership model. Quite rare in Belgium.
This system has proven to be a huge success since its launch in 2011. Today, just under a third of Easi's employees own shares in the company.
Let's see why the model works so well at Easi and what its biggest benefits are.

Employee shareholdership in Belgium

Few Belgian companies offer a similar model to their employees. Only two Belgian publicly-traded companies have taken the plunge. At Colruyt, 15% of employees hold shares. Only 1.4% at AB Inbev.
In total, it is estimated that our country has no more than 50,000 employee-shareholders. That is barely 1% of the Belgian workforce. By comparison, 12% of employees are shareholders in France and about 6% in Great Britain.

Employee shareholdership at Easi

In 2011, Salvatore Curaba, founder of Easi, decided to implement the model in his company. It was a huge success! Since then, the number of shareholders has been growing steadily.
Salvatore use to own most of the company's shares at the time. Now he has become a minority shareholder. And you will see, this is not a problem for him, quite the contrary.

"For me, there is nothing more natural than to share the company with my employees. It gives me an immense feeling of happiness. How can you look your colleagues in the eye when you ask them to devote themselves completely without sharing the fruits of their efforts with them?", 
explains Salvatore.

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At Easi, anyone can become a shareholder. You just have to meet certain criteria such as function level, seniority (2 years), as well as respect for the company's fundamental values.

This model provides stability, stimulates growth and enables Easi to be even more successful. By becoming shareholders, employees become the driving force behind the company. Their personal goals are in some way linked to those of the company.


"The day I became a shareholder, something clicked in my head and I felt even more invested in the company. Being a shareholder is a bit like working for your own company", explains Jean-François Herremans, now CEO of Easi.

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"This model can be compared to a marriage. There are good times, but also more difficult moments. I believe that this model allows us to deal even better with the challenges that every company faces", adds Thomas Van Eeckhout, also CEO of Easi.

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Testimonials: why did they become shareholders?

Giving back

For Antoine Rucquoy, Senior Software Engineer at Easi, becoming a shareholder was a way for him to return the favor. "Easi has trusted me since the beginning of my career and has given me a lot of opportunities. As soon as I had the opportunity to become a shareholder, I didn't hesitate for a second. To me, it was a duty, and it was only fair to give back".

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Working for your own company

Senior Business Consultant Luuk Raaijmakers's motivations are different. Driven by his entrepreneurial spirit, Luuk wanted to feel like he was working for his own company. "It doesn't matter how many shares I own. Today I can proudly say that I own part of Easi. It's very motivating to go to work with that feeling. I am also convinced that this is a very good financial investment", he says.

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Believing in the mission

"This model is unique and allows us to involve our employees in an incredible way. When you know Easi and its mission, it's natural to want to become a shareholder. There's no better company to invest in because it's mine, it's the one I believe in. There is this sentimental dimension that boosts commitment to the company", explains Charline Coppieters, Senior HR Advisor at Easi.

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Stimulating employee retention

Many organizations today struggle with recruiting and retaining talent. A lot of them wonder how to best keep their new recruits.
After all, retaining staff is cheaper than recruiting and training new employees. So those who successfully reduce employee turnover have a powerful competitive advantage.
With employee shareholdership, companies have a strong argument to keep their best employees on board. It's not enough to recognize your employees' efforts and offer them opportunities. Your employees must also be able to share in your profits.

"Sharing is part of our DNA. Our company is not owned by one person. Our shared values allow us to create a culture that enables our employees to connect their personal goals with those of our company. In this way, the group's interest also impacts our efficiency and our internal strength to achieve our goals together", says Laurent Delime, Human Resources Director at Easi.

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A model for the future

For Salvatore Curaba, this is a model for the future. "If half of the Belgian companies worked thisway, the added value would be considerable".

Employee shareholdership is beneficial for both companies and employees. By offering employees the opportunity to become shareholders, companies are able to improve employee retention and engagement. Also, employee shareholders will be more invested in the company's success.

Whatever their motivation (recognition, entrepreneurial spirit, adherence to the company's mission), this system benefits both employees and the company. It would therefore be beneficial to establish it further in Belgium.

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