Would You Buy Shares In the Company You Work For?

What makes a company a great place to work at, and yet an awful investment? Conversely, are companies who deliver great returns to shareholders doing so at the expense of their workers? Would you buy shares in the company you work for?
I know your immediate answer may be “yes” or “most likely”, but should it be? Can I please ask you to review my ramblings and then reconsider this question? I know many people get share options as their LTI (Long Term Incentive) but this is not the same as taking hard earned money from your account and making a choice.In addition you have no choice with your LTI, the primary purpose of these shares are a golden handcuff.
Let me give you an example. Many people would take the opportunity to work for an airline but would be hesitant to buy shares in one. Alternatively, many people would buy shares in a big bank, but may be hesitant to work for one.
Recently I have spent time reviewing and updating my share portfolio. I try and read information every day about organisations, industries and market trends, typically from a finance, HR and technology perspective.
I have realised, reasonably quickly that I am biased and that there are certain criteria that I look for when considering investments in organisations.
Typically the criteria I base my purchases on are:

  • The track record or performance of the company
  • The industry, and whether it one of growth as well its relative stability
  • Whether or not the strategic market direction of the company is aligned with the current market
  • If I have confidence in the executive team
  • The level of risk that is acceptable for me, and how I balance this out against my other investments

While this is my personal approach, it is pretty standard for those looking to invest. As HR consultants and recruiters, we are privileged to view the inner workings of many organisations. The very nature of our jobs relies on our ability to effectively evaluate staff competence and culture, review processes, and observe communication and use of technology. This insight often puts me off investing investing in an organisation, and yet would not deter me from working for them. I understand that this is a paradox and maybe even hypocritical.
So the big question: what would inspire me to work for an organisation? What criteria would make me get there as fast as I could and enable me to enjoy every interaction at work?
The criteria that comes to mind is:

  • An inspirational brand with a great team.
  • That the project I’m working on is going to provide me with learning and growth
  • The level of discretion and creativity I can use is both clear and agreed
  • The project I am working on will make a difference
  • The company values their staff and individual differences

These criteria are NOT the same as above and I do not want it to be. So, back to my original questions. Can you use the same criteria for considering investing in a company versus working for that company?  What are your thoughts?
You can join me at #SST2014 designed to help both internal and agency recruiters win the war for talent through an increased ability in the areas of sourcing, social media and online engagement. Find out more about the conference in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland 

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