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Employee Ownership: The Motivation For Being Truly Bought In

By: SEI Team

One of the key components of the SEI business model is the culture of employee ownership. As consultants become employee owners, it creates accountability and commitment to the business as well as motivates each and every one of us to dedicate efforts toward our local offices with a focus on delivering high quality results and maintaining sustainable growth – after all we collectively own it.

Employee ownership of a local office is achieved through a series of ownership events. These either take the form of ownership grants of available units or can be purchases of new units. Recently we witnessed something unprecedented from a company history perspective. A group of consultants within one of our local offices received the first set of ownership unit grants. Once this had occurred, it became possible for subsequent purchase events to happen. The employees of this office proceeded to invest large quantities of their own resources (hundreds of thousands of dollars) to buy into the business. Employee owners from all of our offices are certainly bought into the business but what made this particular event unprecedented was that the volume of those personal investments actually made us reach certain exemption limits imposed upon us (by the SEC) as a non-publicly traded company – something that had never happened before in the history of the company.

Motivations For “Buying In”

The fact that we made history is obviously a matter of pride but the true question is: What would motivate employees to do that? As with any investment, there is associated risk, and whatever risks these employees perceived were clearly overshadowed by their collective belief in the future success of the office. How did we create such belief? We don’t have a crystal ball, so we then ask what makes a group of people believe in this so strongly? We believe the answer lies in some other facets of our business model and specifically in our trust of each other individually and as a team. From a personal standpoint, there is nowhere else that either of us have been where there is so much independence given to each and every one of us to make key decisions and participate in the overall business. It’s important to realize that we all are privy to the components that drive our business over the longer term – revenue, expenses, net income from a financial standpoint, sales pipeline from a client and opportunity standpoint, and candidate pipeline from a recruiting standpoint. And given we are all highly motivated people, and each of us knows that we have a high performing, high quality team beside us, we have an extremely strong belief in our collective ability to not only make business decisions individually and together but to also overcome any adversity we encounter. In other words, we are armed with the appropriate data to make the decisions, and WE TRUST EACH OTHER to make them to the best of our ability.

So, with a framework designed to create such a culture, an open book mentality, and a fantastic team in place, it’s not difficult for either of us to see why one would so readily “buy in”, whether financially or figuratively, to a company such as OURS.