3 Ways to Employee-Ownership – Canada

by | May 30, 2023

ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), EOT (Employee Ownership Trust), and Worker-Owned Cooperative are three different models for transferring ownership of a business to its employees. Each model has its own advantages and considerations, so the choice depends on the specific goals and circumstances of the business.

Let’s explore each option:

1. ESOP (Employee Share Ownership Plan):

   – An ESOP allows employees to become partial or full owners of a company through the sale of company shares to the employees.

   – ESOPs can be a tax-efficient way to transition ownership and provide employees with a direct financial stake in the company’s success.

   – It can incentivize employee performance and loyalty, as they have a vested interest in the company’s profitability.

   – ESOPs can offer a smooth transition of ownership, as shares can be gradually sold to employees over time.

   – Establishing and maintaining an ESOP can involve complex legal and financial processes, and it may not be suitable for all types of businesses. For over 20 years companies like ESOP Builders have been designing and implementing customized Employee Share Ownership Plans, to meet the unique needs of each company.

2. EOT (Employee Ownership Trust):

   – An EOT is a trust established to hold the shares of a company on behalf of its employees.

   – EOTs provide a way to transfer ownership to employees without requiring them to purchase shares directly.

   – The trust structure allows for a more collective ownership approach, as the trust holds the shares on behalf of all employees.

   – EOTs can provide stability and continuity, as the trust becomes the long-term owner of the business, and employee ownership is protected.

   – Like ESOPs, EOTs can offer tax advantages, but they may also involve legal and administrative complexities. In the 2023 the Federal Government announced legislation to allow for EOT’s in Canada. The EOT world is new, but offers new opportunities for owners to transition their business to their employees. The Canadian Employee Ownership Coalition is currently working with the government to improve the legislation tabled to optimize the success of EOT’s in Canada in the near future.

3. Worker-Owned Cooperative:

   – A worker-owned cooperative is a business owned and operated by its employees, who are typically members of the cooperative.

   – In this model, employees have an equal say in the decision-making process, and profits are often shared among members.

   – Worker-owned cooperatives promote a strong sense of ownership, engagement, and collaboration among employees.

   – They can be particularly well-suited for businesses with a focus on collective values and a desire for a more egalitarian structure.

   – Transitioning to a worker-owned cooperative may require significant restructuring and a shift in the business’s culture and operations.

How to choose the right path for you?

Ultimately, the choice between ESOP, EOT, or a worker-owned cooperative depends on the nature of your business, your goals, the desires of the employees, and the legal and financial considerations involved. At Firefly Insights we have 20 years of experience working in various forms of employee-ownership, and are happy to share what we’ve learned along the way! Interested in learning more, book a time to connect here.

Meet the author


Jennifer Williams


Mentor, Business Owner, Business Coach, Certified Money Coach, and Mother of four.

After growing and scaling her own successful businesses, Jennifer understands the pitfalls, and also the opportunities, involved in the process of transitioning.