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E*TRADE Corporate Services Study Reveals Employees Place Greater Emphasis on Equity Compensation Amid Pandemic

In a challenging year, participants are increasingly engaged with their stock plans

E*TRADE Corporate Services, a division of Morgan Stanley at Work, today announced results from its annual survey of equity compensation plan participants.1

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“In a year of disruption that’s changed the nature of how many of us live and work, employees of all ages and experience levels are finding more value in their equity compensation, and in doing so are forging closer connections with their employer”

E*TRADE interviewed 53,512 stock plan participants from September 8–18, 2020, seeking their views on how they engage with, and feel about, their equity compensation. Results show that in this volatile and uncertain year participants across all ages and categories placed higher importance on—and satisfaction with—their stock plan benefits:

  • As the workplace goes digital, participants are more plugged in: With many working remote, more participants are checking in on their stock plans weekly, up 7 percentage points, and logging in more on mobile, up 5 percentage points. The increased engagement conforms with recent data from Shareworks (also a part of Morgan Stanley at Work), which found that more companies are digitizing their equity plans.2
  • And they are in it for the long haul: More view their equity compensation as a long-term investment, up 3 percentage points, and also hold their equity long-term because they believe in their company’s future and performance, up 5 percentage points.
  • Stock plan benefits increasingly motivate key career decisions: More participants said equity awards are an important factor when deciding to remain with their company, up 5 percentage points. This view aligns with the recent Shareworks study, where plan decision-makers believe equity comp will increase in importance for compensation, recruiting, and retainment in the next five years.2
  • And some employees are seeking out student loan benefits: One third said their decision to accept or leave a job would be affected “quite a bit” or “very much” if their employer contributed to paying off their student loans.
  • Pain points persist: Taxes and achieving the maximum value of benefits are topics that continue to confound, even though understanding increased by 2 to 3 percentage points. The Shareworks study also found that understanding tax consequences is a top concern among plan decision-makers when it comes to their participants.2
  • Despite this year’s challenges, participants are more satisfied: Participant satisfaction with their equity compensation increased 2 percentage points, while E*TRADE’s net promoter score increased 13 percentage points.

“In a year of disruption that’s changed the nature of how many of us live and work, employees of all ages and experience levels are finding more value in their equity compensation, and in doing so are forging closer connections with their employer,” said Kate Winget, Managing Director, Head of Participant Engagement and Experience for Morgan Stanley at Work. “As we chart a path forward for economic recovery, equity compensation is emerging as a game-changing tool that can help companies create a culture of ownership and collaboration, provide traction for their workforce, and secure their teams’ actual skin in the game.”

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