A recent issue of the National Center for Employee Ownership's Employee Ownership Report features a mental-health-services company called Telecare, which is introducing an employee-stock-ownership plan (ESOP) to its already highly-participative workforce of 1,600-plus. To kick off the training, the leadership team staged a re-enactment of the actual ESOP transaction with employees playing several key roles: Uncle Sam, the selling owners, themselves as employees, trustees, and bankers, among others. Money and stock exchanged hands as players followed the action and answered basic questions. (Sample: Why do we want to sell the company to employees?)

The team also developed some low-tech educational material to keep everyone informed. For example, an Ownership Q&A handout covers frequently-asked questions. (Samples: When will I get my money? As an owner, what are my rights and responsibilities?). Employees can also call Telecare's ESOP hotline with more complex questions, which are answered in the company's weekly newsletter.

But wait? there's more. The company's ESOP-training plan calls for role-playing games to help employees better understand their impact on stock value as well as a series of what-if exercises to help explain the delicate balance between short-term profit taking and long-term growth needs. A short survey is used to audit the training so that it may be improved. (Sample questions: Do you feel like an owner? Are you getting enough information?).

* * *
If you're looking for another dozen ESOP companies that take full advantage of the benefits of shared ownership, check out the paperback Open-Book Management and Corporate Performance (National Center for Employee Ownership, $30, 510-272-9461, Web site: www.nceo.org). The case studies detail each company's background, its vital statistics, key management practices, ownership structure, level of employee participation, pay-for-performance system, training initiatives, information-sharing techniques, financial results, and more.

Copyright 1998 Open-Book Management, Inc.