Since adopting an Employee Share Purchase Program, Atomic Object has seen its employee ownership grow by 10 employees in the last two quarters. The total number of employees with ownership stakes in the company is now 24.
Prior to the ESPP, 13 non-founder employees each owned between 1 and 7 percent of the company. The company said it was hard to expand ownership because someone had to sell shares before another person could buy them.
Now, there's a pool of inactive shares — up to 10 percent of the total — that employees can purchase. Atomic has set a cap on the amount employees can invest per quarter, and any employees who leave the company must sell their shares, adding them to the inactive pool.
“We could have sold all the shares up front and made future employees wait until someone else was willing to share, but we didn’t want ownership to be an exclusive club,” said Vice President Mike Marsiglia. “Our plan doesn’t discriminate against people who want to buy shares in the future, yet it rewards people who participate earlier.”
The program is open to all employees who have been with the firm for at least a year. To invest, employees elect to have money taken from their paychecks and put into an account. Once a quarter, that money is used to buy shares. Employees can invest up to $500 each quarter. The ESPP employees own a piece of the LLC, receive dividends and have an opportunity for capital appreciation.
“We've always had a culture of ownership — that's why we have open books and self-managing teams,” said Carl Erickson, Atomic’s president. “We’re not changing the culture or expecting to change it. We’re acknowledging the culture that’s already there.”
More than half of the company’s employees now have an ownership stake through the ESPP.
“It’s a nice way to spread ownership to everyone in small chunks,” said new owner Shawn Anderson. “It’s a smaller investment, but it grows over time, and you can continue to contribute to it. It’s pretty awesome.”