WASHINGTON – In a new op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer, Tim Steigerwald, CEO of employee-owned Messer Construction Co., encourages policymakers to support efforts to extend the benefits of employee ownership to more American workers.
“At a time when pandemic-driven job losses are being felt by so many in our community, leaders in business and government should work together to help empower our region’s hardworking people with the economic opportunity and security of employee ownership,” Steigerwald writes. “The evidence – including a growing body of research and the experiences of employee-owned companies such as ours – strongly suggests that encouraging greater employee ownership of private businesses should play a role in both our short-term recovery and our long-term economic strategy.”
He explains that “[t]hrough employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), businesses allow workers to save for retirement through ownership shares in the company, which are given as a benefit of their employment. Employee ownership can spur job creation, improve wages and productivity and strengthen retirement savings.”
As Steigerwald points out, research shows that “employee-owned S corporations (S ESOPs) have a decades-long record of outpacing the private sector as a whole when it comes to job creation,” and “employee-owners are not only more confident about their jobs, they are also less anxious about their financial futures. In fact, employees at S ESOP companies have more than twice the average total retirement savings of Americans who work at non-ESOP companies. This is especially important now, with the economic aftershocks of the pandemic expected to continue for years to come.”
While “more than 3,000 private U.S. companies have adopted [the S ESOP] model, enabling one million workers to have an ownership stake in the businesses where they work,” Steigerwald writes, a recent study by Jared Bernstein, now a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, examines why employee-ownership is not more widespread, given its many benefits.
“Bernstein’s study, conducted with support from the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America, found that a simple lack of awareness often keeps small and mid-size privately held companies from considering employee ownership. Fortunately, straightforward solutions, such as providing resources and information to retiring business owners, can help facilitate the creation of more ESOPs,” he writes.
Steigerwald concludes: “As hardworking families throughout our region grapple with economic uncertainty, policymakers should strongly consider supporting efforts to allow more Americans to build meaningful retirement savings and reap the benefits of employee ownership through ESOPs.”
To read Tim Steigerwald’s full op-ed in The Cincinnati Enquirer, CLICK HERE.