Trends (And Gaps) In Employee Stock Plan Communications Revealed By Survey Of Multinational Companies

By Bruce Brumberg. If you’re as much into stock plan education as we are, you’re probably also really into survey data. That makes today a good day for both of us at this blog.

We have been perusing the 2015 Global Equity Incentives Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the NASPP. The survey presents questionnaire data from 245 multinational companies with employees in 75 countries. The researchers found that the use of equity awards by the surveyed companies generally continued to grow in 2014 and 2015, after falling in 2009–2011 and rebounding in 2012. With this growth in the use of equity has come an expansion in stock plan education and communications. While most of the surveyed companies (73%) communicate with plan participants at the time of grant, a widespread traditional practice, 47% of the companies now also communicate with participants again at the time of vesting, exercise, or payout. This figure rose from 37% in 2012. Some companies report that they communicate with participants at other times as well (or instead).

According to the researchers, the increasing frequency of interaction with plan participants “demonstrates how more companies realize the need to communicate to employees on their equity awards on a more consistent basis throughout the life of the equity award.” This is a message that we at myStockOptions.com have been preaching since we started our website 15 years ago.

The survey found the following about the timing or availability of stock plan communications among the surveyed multinationals.

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The methods by which multinational companies explain stock compensation to employees outside the United States are similarly diversifying. Although some companies still cling to printed materials, most are now using online forms of communication. Alongside the prevalence of electronically delivered information, some companies arrange in-person one-on-one meetings or group presentations, and some make help available by telephone. The survey revealed the following about the ways in which companies educate non-US employees about their stock compensation.

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Nevertheless, despite all of this communication, 66% of the companies reported that among stock plan participants “there is not a strong understanding of plan benefits.” The survey researchers theorize that the decreasing tendency to translate stock plan documents into local languages may be contributing to the knowledge gap. However, as they point out, English continues to grow as the common language of international employment, so language barriers cannot account for all of the shortcomings of stock plan communication. Indeed, it remains true that, no matter how often communication occurs, stock plan education can always be better.

We at myStockOptions.com spend much of our working lives in making complex stock plan concepts clearly understandable and relatable. Visit the “About Us” section of the website to find out more about what we do for companies seeking to improve their stock plan education and communications.

*This blog was originally published on myStockOptions.com.