Post by Peter Østergaard

Co-Ownership – The journey with Delegate also has a possible up-side

2019 January 25th

We are constantly looking to be Denmark’s best workplace. That applies to everything we do. Are there areas where we can do better? Yes, there definitely are…

On my “bucket list” has long been a desire to give our employees the opportunity to become co-owners of Delegate. I would like a share program, and the opportunity to offer our employees something extra in addition to a job where they are challenged professionally and develop as people.

Delegate is a growth company. We have a clear plan to grow in the coming years as well. Our employees are a big part of that. And of course they should benefit from that too!

At Delegate, we have a customer and an employee promise as part of our culture and values. A co-ownership is part of our employee commitment and in my eyes an expression of recognition. A recognition that we all spend many hours every day on our work and it must benefit everyone if one day our company is sold.

Every day, our employees help to grow and develop Delegate, a value creation that benefits our shareholders and therefore employees must have the opportunity to become shareholders.

That way, co-ownership makes sense.

It provides value—both for the employee and for Delegate.

The desire to have the employees in the ownership circle has actually been with us for a long time, but both ownership structure and unfavorable legislation in the area has been a brake on our implementation of a share program.

Therefore, it was also a great day when, in early 2019, after a long period of preparation, we were finally able to launch a share program for the employees of Delegate!

So how did we wind up becoming a company with a shares program and Co-Ownership?

For us, the opportunity arose when Blue Equity came in as a co-owner in June 2018. In this connection, Delegate’s ownership structure was changed and together with a change in the legislation for employee shares, this meant that it was now possible to implement a shares program.

I would be lying if I said it was easy… or quickly achieved.

It has required a lot of work, and we have had a lot of considerations in relation to how our share program should be put together.

As so often, the simple solution is the best.

So we have set some simple requirements for participation in the shares program so that all employees have the opportunity to become shareholders at some point. Among other things. one must have been employed for one year. We think it’s fair to have been a part of the Delegate for some time before being ready to make a co-ownership decision. In this way, we ensure that we agree that there is a good match between the employee and Delegate as a company before co-ownership comes into play.

Additionally, it is important for us that new employees do not choose Delegate because of our shares program, but for ALL the opportunities a job here provides. Therefore, the shares and stock option program must never become part of the hiring process.

The process behind getting a shares and stock option program up and running can be a bit complex

I find that the stock program and its technicalities about conditional stocks, vested stocks, tax rules and more, are a difficult size for many to understand. If you have not owned shares before, then you do not know that special tax rules etc. apply.

Part of our task is therefore to help our employees make the decision on whether they want to participate in the share program on as informed a basis as possible.

Fortunately, the staff are good at talking to each other in our internal chat tool Yammer, and many got help with their questions by talking to others, and by sucking in all the input that was shared.

The shares program is voluntary. The decision on whether or not to participate, and whether it is a good idea for the individual employee, I cannot help with. In that regard, I am most definitely biased, and I have done everything I can to stay out of that dialogue with the employees.

But now that the shares program is underway, I can happily say that a large portion of the employees who had the opportunity to participate chose to engage in Delegate in a new and fun way—namely as a shareholder in their own workplace.

It is an extra commitment in our common everyday life. Not that we lacked commitment—but one should always strive to do more. Do better.

I am, of course, very pleased with the large turnout. Glad to receive the share program. And happy for the trust our employees have shown each other and Delegate as a workplace.

Going forward, it’s about continuing to grow in Delegate and adding a little at the top and bottom each year so that the stock program becomes a success for everyone.

If you are considering an employee share program in your company, you are very welcome to contact me. I like to inspire and share our experiences.

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