Employee participation plan instrumental in creating a respectful corporate culture 3 minutes spent reading
Employer benefits

Employee participation plan instrumental in creating a respectful corporate culture

Christopher Eberl
Christopher Eberl is editorially responsible for the topics on the blog as well as for the apprentice website. With his stories he provides deep insights into the diverse world of the voestalpine Group.

Companies that value their employees don’t just share their profits with them, they also share the company itself!

When voestalpine employees talk about their workplace, the use of the possessive pronoun “their” is absolutely correct: the workplace, where people within the Group perform to the best of their abilities, really does belong to them—to the tune of around 14%, and for some considerable time now.

"At voestalpine it’s the people that make the difference. They also determine our success. That’s why it’s important to us that our employees share in this success"
Wolfgang Eder, Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG

Austria’s largest employee participation plan

The Group’s valued workforce is its second largest shareholder: the voestalpine Mitarbeiterbeteiligung Privatstiftung bundles the voting rights stemming from over 26 million shares on behalf of more than 25,000 current and past voestalpine workers and employees. Following an increase in registered capital, which was decided only last December, the share of equity held by employees recently grew another 1.25% to a total of 14.85%. It’s a development of which the company is proud, because the model of converting individual share ownership into international voting rights is unique in Europe. It also wins prizes in Europe, such as the International Social Economic Award, won in Bilbao in 2017.

Shareholders with employee IDs

It is not only the shareholding employees who benefit from voestalpine’s brand of employee participation, but also the company as a whole: as a strong and reliable core shareholder, the workforce guarantees the company’s stable ownership structure. In 2000, the need to create a stable ownership structure suitable for the period following privatization of the formerly state-owned company was the spur for the management and Works Council to jointly develop the novel participation model. Holding over 10% of the Group’s shares guarantees that the workforce will always be at the table when the company’s future is under discussion.

"Successfully working together to develop a unique model like this in the face of competing interests is certainly an achievement,"
says Hans-Karl Schaller, Chairman of the Group’s Works Council.

A European success story

In the more than 18 years since then, the employee participation plan has become a form of living social partnership, and, as Wolfgang Eder emphasizes, “it has become an established part of not only our corporate culture, but also our identity”. Furthermore, in 2017 it served as the model for Austria’s new law on foundations for employee participation plans (MitarbeiterBetStG).

For a long time now employees based outside Austria have also been involved: the successful model has been rolled out to cover Group companies in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, as well as Spain and Sweden.

Christopher Eberl