Investing in Talent: Using Equity to Attract and Retain Top Consultants

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When choosing a consulting business, customers place a far higher value on the quality of its consultants than on the firm's name or its special techniques. As a result, companies are increasingly experimenting with novel approaches to employee retention and recruitment. There has been a recent uptick in support for more flexible work hours, more excellent wages, and broader benefits packages.

The question then becomes how consultancies can both attract and retain the brightest minds in their fields?. Now, some businesses are contemplating equity pay plans to give workers a stake in the company in exchange for their services.

Let’s look at such equity compensation plans and how this type of employee compensation helps in the business’ talent acquisition and retention in this article.

Equity Compensation

Working for a new firm where you may be able to buy in and benefit from its growth is a major perk. Employees' interests may be better aligned with the company's vision and objectives when they are offered equity as a form of employee compensation.

This section will explore more about equity pay.

What is Equity Compensation?

Employees who are compensated with stock rather than a wage are said to be receiving equity compensation. Equities, in the eyes of financial experts, are the standard of excellence for measuring a company's success.

The company may provide this to its workers outright, or it may allow them to purchase a set volume of shares for a discount. In general, this procedure is structured differently for new enterprises than it is for more mature ones.

Employees may have to put in a particular number of hours with the firm before they're eligible for all of the perks. Depending on the firm, employees may be rewarded financially for achieving certain targets.

Types of Equity Compensation

Depending on the nature of the business and the goals of its founders, there are a variety of equity compensation plans that may be offered to employees.

Stock Option- The most popular kind of equity compensation is the stock option. A stock option is an agreement that gives the owner the power to acquire shares of a specified stock at a certain time and price. Workers with this choice have the right to purchase or sell shares at a later period.

Non-qualified Stock Option- Non-statutory options are options that are not granted any kind of favored tax status by law and hence go by another name. Instead, the tax liability is incurred upon stock exercise or receipt for workers who receive NSO shares. Shareholders may be eligible for the lower capital gains tax rate if they wait at least a year before selling their shares.

Restricted Stock- Equity pay often involves granting company stock to employees, subject to vesting over time and meeting performance objectives, known as restricted stock units (RSUs). As a result of the pride of ownership it provides, workers are more likely to stay with the firm. Initially, holders have few rights, but they may vote and receive dividends if they satisfy certain requirements.

Employee Stock Purchase Plan- When an employer offers its workers the chance to buy stock via payroll deductions, it is offering the employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) as a form of equity compensation. In this case, the corporation will make the stock purchase using the employee's salary. Employees pay what the market is paying for the stock less their after-tax savings to make an after-tax purchase.

Performance Shares- Another kind of stock compensation that links employee pay to the success of the firm is performance shares. Awards are the shares or units that are given out in exchange for performance. This is a perk often reserved for upper-level management.

Equity Compensation; Advantages and Disadvantages

The financial benefits to the company and the employee are the primary benefit of equity compensation. Employers may provide more to their workers, which is good for them, without negatively impacting their bottom line. Additional advantages associated with equity compensation are as follows:




Benefits small businesses compete with larger ones when they don't have enough financial backup.

When it comes to taxes and reporting requirements, there are new jurisdictions to learn about when dealing with equity pay.


The more closely an organization's beliefs and goals coincide with those of its personnel, the better the success of both.

A lot of time and effort must also be invested into the layout of the scheme, which includes deciding on factors like the amount of stock to be distributed, the eligibility of participants, the vesting schedule, and the duration of the plan.


Some authorized programs, such as qualifying ESPPs and ESOPs, provide tax advantages to both the company and the employee.


Keeping up with ownership changes, updating documents/policies/procedures, interacting with stakeholders, contacting your board of directors, and remaining compliant may all add to the effort of departments responsible for equity plan administration.


Employees are more than simply workers when they have stock in the firm; they become employee-owners with a voice in setting the company's strategic course via their votes as shareholders.




Strategies to Offer Equity Compensation to Employees

Now that you understand what equity compensation is and why it's important, it’s time to understand how to make it work. Here are the four actions you need to take to provide equity pay to your staff:

Determine the kind of stock options you will provide

Pick the best equity compensation plan to provide to your workers and freelancers. You should conduct a survey of your staff and get feedback from the board and upper management to figure out what choices will work best for everyone.

- Stock options are a popular incentive for workers, especially in the case of publicly traded corporations, since they allow the company to set aside a portion of its ownership for employee purchases.

- If you have the financial resources and would like to encourage more executives and middle-to-high-level staff, an ISO is a terrific option.

- In contrast, NSOs are more appropriate for big corporations with many lower and middle-level workers who also wish to take advantage of tax benefits.

- When a company wants to incentivize long-term employee loyalty but doesn't have the funds on hand to do so, restricted stock units (RSUs) might be a good solution.

- If you'd rather not deal with the hassle of awarding shares to each employee individually, an ESPP is the way to go.

Distribute stock in proportion to years of service and current salaries

Employees' equity awards should reflect their fair compensation. After all, if you want to pay competitively, you need to know how much they are worth, and equity compensation is a key component of that.

To establish how to distribute equity, you should divide your workforce into subgroups depending on factors such as length of service and position within the organization. Senior workers, high achievers, and executives may be eligible for a larger number of shares.

Set the conditions and timeline for vesting

Consider how long workers will have to wait to cash in on their stock awards. Make sure that your employment agreements clearly define the parameters under which workers may exercise and sell their shares. Specify the kind of equity, the vesting schedule, and the number of shares that are accessible to workers and contractors.

Equity awards for startups often have a four-year vesting timeline accompanied by a one-year cliff. This indicates that a year of service is required before a worker is eligible to receive stock or to exercise stock options.

 A shorter vesting time may be established to recruit talent more quickly, while a longer vesting period might be established to promote employee retention. If you want to plan for the foreseeable future, you need a lengthier vesting schedule.

Equities for Maintaining a Solid Team

The benefits of equity pay may be lost on certain workers if they are unable to grasp what it is. If you want your employees to feel more in control of their financial futures, it's important to educate them not just on the program but on a wide variety of other elements of financial health.

The ESOP software and services allow you to manage your company's equity compensation plan without worrying about its complexity or administrative burden. The Implementation phase in this software is led by specialized teams that help with everything from initial strategy development and rollout to ongoing plan management and enhancement. 

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