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Maximise the benefits of employee share schemes with an ownership mindset

Renee Jameson
Renee Jameson

4m read

The team at Sprout NZ specialise in high-growth businesses and know how to navigate the pressures, challenges, and opportunities of each stage. They work with leaders to solve the key challenges of growth; hiring the right people, building a highly engaged culture and lifting leadership capability as the business grows.

We asked their team to share some advice on building a business culture that will maximise the impact of Employee Share Schemes. Here are some insights from Angela Waddell Founder and Director of People Advisory and Design at Sprout.


Employee Share Schemes (ESS) can be a powerful tool for motivating and engaging your team through shares or share options rather than cash incentives or high salaries. They can create a deep connection with the business and help align your people’s goals with the business's goals. When the business wins, we all win!

However, it’s not enough to send an announcement and wait for the benefits to roll in. Not everyone in your team will understand how they work, and for employees in a growing business, investment in shares is about the long term rather than immediate return. The idea of potential future monetary gains is appealing, but in the face of rising daily costs and expenses, it can get deprioritised. So how do you get buy-in?

Education and clear comms are a logical first step, but to maximise the impact and reduce risks, your introduction needs to begin with mindset. Specifically, we recommend cultivating an ownership mindset and culture of ownership within your business.

What is an ownership mindset, and why is it so impactful?

Ownership mindset is a way of thinking that encourages people to take ownership of their work, their team, and the business as a whole. Someone with an ownership mindset will have a broader, long term focus and will share responsibility for key outcomes and business growth. When people have an ownership mindset, they are more likely to take initiative, be proactive, and work collaboratively to achieve common goals. Building a culture of ownership can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and overall success for your business.

How to create an ownership mindset

1. Awareness on what an ownership mindset is

Awareness is always the first step. You don't have to be an owner to have an ownership mindset.

If people understand and recognise what everyday behaviours demonstrate an ownership mindset you are on the right path. Some examples of these behaviours might be:

  • Truly believing in the purpose of the organisation and this being at the heart of everything you do
  • Understanding the need for a return on every dollar spent
  • Thinking longer term and recognising the impact today's activities will have on the future
  • Always looking at ways of driving improvement and efficiencies and not settling for average

2. Involve your people with improving the business

When employees feel they are empowered or are involved in decisions that impact the direction or the business they are more likely to have a sense of ownership.

“78% of employees that had been recently involved in making an improvement identified strongly as owners. Comparing this with employees that had never been involved in such an effort, I found that only 14% felt strongly like owners, and nearly 30% of this group did not feel like owners at all.” NCEOs Ownership Culture Survey

3. Build team accountability and empower leadership

Ensure your people have clarity on their roles and responsibility, write it down and set clear KPIs that ladder to wider business goals. Once there’s a clear path for development make sure they have the tools and structure to deliver. This empowers your team to own their space, giving motivation and satisfaction and creating a culture of ownership.

4. Financial transparency and commercial awareness

Not everyone understands the inner workings of the P&L and cashflow and what impact this has on how successful a business is or isn't or how fast a business can run.

A great place to start is by being transparent with financials every month or quarter which will help employees gain a better understanding of what it means to be an owner. We also think that offering a financial literacy program course or training program helps with this too.

A great way to increase commercial awareness is sharing insights and information on the micro and macro economic factors that may be impacting the business. It's important to create an environment where people are encouraged to ask questions and be curious about what is happening in the macro economy.

5. Be clear on your vision and mission

Do you have a clear vision and mission? Do your employees know what they are? Do they feel connected to it? Are they clear on their personal impact and influence on this?

A sure way for people to feel a sense of ownership and accountability to an organisation is to truly believe in what the business is doing and where they are going.

This means you speak to your vision, mission and purpose as often as possible in as many different ways as possible for your employees to truly feel it and are inspired to achieve it.


An ownership mindset creates a culture of collaboration, innovation, and accountability that will drive your business forward and make Employee Share Schemes even more powerful. If you’re ready to grow, let’s make it happen. Reach out to Angela Waddell on to learn more about strengthening your culture.

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