TMX Group Ltd.’s robust communications campaign for its long-standing employee share purchase plan led to a win in the benefits plan communications category at Benefits Canada‘s 2020 Workplace Benefits Awards on Oct. 16.

In April 2020, the financial services company branded its ESPP with the slogan “Think like an owner, be an owner,” encouraging an ownership mentality among staff. The plan, which was introduced in 2002, also aims to provide meaningful financial rewards and engage employees with the financial markets in which the company operates.

“We’ve been really thoughtful and deliberate about how often we speak about the program [and] who promotes it,” says Karin Adams, interim senior vice-president and group head of human resources at TMX Group. “This program has significant senior leadership support, so it isn’t just a program [human resources] is launching — our [chief executive officer] talks about it extensively; it’s featured in our all-employee meetings; our CEO has been doing video messages throughout the pandemic and spends a whole section talking about the ESPP and its advantages.”

Read: Back to basics on employee share purchase plans

All permanent full-time and regular part-time employees are eligible to participate. They can join the plan during any trading window by contributing a percentage of their regular pay. TMX Group also contributes an additional 50 per cent of the dollar amount contributed — enabling employees to accelerate their share ownership and signalling the importance that the company places on equity participation.

When shares are deposited into an employee’s share account, the employee owns them; there’s no vesting period. The company also facilitates automatic reinvestment of dividends so employees can continue to grow their ownership level automatically.

Through its communications campaign. TMX Group used several mediums, including its intranet, employee-facing digital screens, computer lock screens, video and employee events, wellness fairs, town halls and live Q&As.

Read: L’Oréal Group launches new global employee share purchase plan

“We really come at it in a multi-faceted way of consistent messaging and through a variety of mediums,” says Adams. “And we really try to enhance understanding to get people seeing the benefits of it. So it’s not just an email saying, ‘We have an ESPP, join it.’ We do a lot of visual interests like infographics and examples and showing [employees] how the value of a share can grow.”

The strategy has paid off, with 88 per cent of TMX Group’s staff in Canada and the U.S. currently participating in the ESPP as it works toward its ultimate goal of 100 per cent participation.

“[The ESPP] has a ton of traction, a lot of excitement and employees, at the end of the day, have really benefitted from it,” she says. “Even if I look at a short timeframe like 2018 to 2019, if you enrolled in the program in 2018, by the end of 2019, the value of your shares had increased 60 per cent.

“So it’s a really great tool for us to share wealth accumulation with our staff. And particularly during the pandemic, it’s been a nice piece to launch in support of financial well-being and a good news story and making people feel like they have earnings potential with TMX.”

Read a full list of the 2020 Workplace Benefits Awards winners.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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