6 Reasons to Love SEP’s Employee Ownership Culture

October 20, 2022

If you know SEP, you know we care a lot about our work. But we care even more about the people we work with. We’ve always been this way, but launching our ESOP in 2010 brought employee ownership culture to the forefront of our business. It strengthened the connection between SEP and its people even further.

What is an ESOP, anyway?

ESOP stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The details get complicated quickly, but it’s essentially a tax-advantaged retirement plan (on top of 401k) that allows employees to share in the company’s success.

What does employee ownership mean for SEPeers?

SEP has always been a special place, but our leadership’s commitment to creating a place where employees want to work was cemented in 2010 when our founders transitioned their ownership to an ESOP.

A Place People Love to Work

In 1988, our founders took a bold chance to build a company where employees would love to work. They wanted to create a place characterized by craftsmanship, balance, and a transparent partnership with customers. Revenue wasn’t (and still isn’t) the main focus; instead, people and relationships are. Our mission is to build a healthy company so smart people can do great work and live a life they love.

Our focus on long-term relationship-building with our clients and employees makes SEP a place people love to work. We have 13 consecutive ‘Best Place to Work in Indiana’ trophies to prove it. We’ve been a winner every year since we became an ESOP!

Long-term Stability and Growth

We’ve weathered many changes in the markets we serve, but have remained profitable nearly all of our 34 years. SEP’s leadership carefully manages our finances to handle market fluctuations with confidence, with retirement benefits for employees always front of mind. This mindset has contributed significantly to the growth, strength, and stability of our culture and performance as a company.

Learning, Mentorship, and Professional Development

Creating and sustaining a culture where we’re all growing is key. Thankfully, we love learning, so we stay on top of the ever-changing software industry. We prioritize growth and invest in our people. Investment in training and professional development is one of our top 5 expenditures!

We encourage each other to grow and have created programs to do just that. To name a few:

  • Our Guides program pairs new hires with mentors for their first year at SEP.
  • Our SEP Learns program introduces early-career employees to seasoned SEP leaders and best practices for project execution and delivery.
  • Our Customer Experience skills development program equips makers with the tools they need to serve customers with excellence.

Transparent Communication

We’re an open book. Whether it’s quarterly open forums with our President & CEO, transparent discussions around our financial health, or year-round employee check-ins, open communication is key to our employee ownership culture.

What does employee ownership mean for our clients?

Stability and Investment

Being employee-owned means we’re (literally) invested in what we do. The employee ownership model frees us to focus on our customers rather than our own short-term profits. We bring stability and reliability that few consultancies do.

With a 90% retention rate, our clients don’t experience talent turnover mid-project. Owners stick around, which is a comfort to our clients and a boost to our productivity.

Awesome People

Clients often ask us, “How do you recruit such awesome people?” The quality and talent of our employees is a major competitive advantage for us. Recruiting is a shared responsibility, not just an HR function. Our large team of talent scouts takes ownership very seriously, so they volunteer time to help recruit the best.

When we recruit, we aren’t just looking for new employees, we’re looking for new co-owners. We know having a service-focused business means our viability hinges on our employees’ ability to create value in teams and with our clients. Ownership mentality reinforces this approach and means we provide a unique and consistent experience for our clients.

What does employee ownership mean to me?

I’ve loved learning about and experiencing employee ownership culture as an SEPeer. As an employee owner, I feel especially committed to our success as a team. I know my work contributes to the benefit of the rest of the company, so I care about making a meaningful impact.

Our ESOP also serves as a concrete reminder that SEP puts its people first. On a daily basis, I see the ways both my teammates and SEP invest in me. The way we take care of one another is rare and unique.

Want to learn more about ESOPs?

We love sharing information, resources, and support to companies considering transitioning to an ESOP. Reach out to us here!