Employee-Ownership at NMR: A Natural Fit for a Values-Driven Team

Though it ends on a spooky note, October is always a month of pride for NMR. Every year, we celebrate our work and our core values during ESOPtober, or Employee-Ownership Month. Those values, in particular our care for colleagues’ professional and personal welfare and equity, are what drove NMR to become employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2017.

Employee-ownership is a unique form of company ownership in which all eligible employees own a portion of the company in the form of stock. In an ESOP, the company sets up a trust that purchases the company then distributes the shares to employees over time.

NMR is one of over 6,000 ESOP companies representing assets of over $1.6 trillion, as of 2020. The reason is no secret: employee-owners, their companies, and the economy as a whole reap the rewards of sharing profits.

those who participate in ESOPs have more than twice the average total retirement balance of Americans nationally: $170,326 versus $80,339

“Employee-owners benefit by building wealth, which also benefits society at large by reducing income inequality,” said Lauren Abraham, an ESOP Communications Committee Member at NMR. According to a survey done by the National Center for Employee Ownership in 2018, those who participate in ESOPs have more than twice the average total retirement balance of Americans nationally: $170,326 compared to $80,339. In a separate study, early career workers between age 28 and 34 were found to have the potential for 92% higher median household net wealth, 33% higher median income from wages, and 53% longer median job tenure.

That also helps attract and retain new staff, as employee-owners are about half as likely as non-owner counterparts to job-hunt in the next year. Retention deepens trust and confidence amongst staff, which nurtures relationships. More content employee-owners perform better and, as a result, the company’s overall performance also improves: post-ESOP, companies generally outperform their pre-ESOP expectations.

Put simply, happy employees produce better work, which also benefits clients. But it takes a conscious effort to lay the groundwork for an employee-ownership program. The daily practice of our values preceded and sustains NMR’s ESOP. According to President Tom Mauldin, “Becoming an ESOP seemed like a natural choice for NMR, as we already were a small company filled with highly engaged and motivated employees.”

Employee-owner Kailey Pratt agrees. She has been with NMR since before it initiated its ESOP, and she notes how the change supported NMR’s existing values and character.

“Our culture had such a family dynamic that it only seemed fitting for us to become an ESOP,” Kailey said. “Since then, I have noticed even more transparency and collaboration to create a better company, not only for our clients but really for the employees.”

This is especially true, she says, for when the going gets tough. “You can rely on your team to lift you up when you are in the weeds or when you need break. I think that sums up what it is like to be an employee-owner at NMR.”