Employee participation, whereby employees are participating financially in your company, allows more people to benefit from the growth of the company in the event of an exit instead of only a small group within management and investors. In the Netherlands, 4 out of 10 companies offer some form of equity to their employees, according to research by I&O research among 285 founders and employees of startups, scaleups and innovative SMEs on behalf of Techleap. 34% of the startups use stock options, and 26% of the scaleups.. What are the main reasons for offering equity to employees, and what can be done to further encourage this?

Unlocking Employee Equity: A Dual Strategy for Engagement and Growth

The Amsterdam-based startup was set up by Michiel, along with his two friends Tom and Eric in 2018. Since then it has gone on to become one of Europe’s fastest-growing online-only supermarket apps for fresh and affordable food.

It was Michiel’s passion for food that inspired him to launch the business, though his journey wasn’t always necessarily leading to this point.

“Before Crisp I worked for Albert Heijn and Ahold. I was mainly involved with financial accounting, modelling and later on financial management. Then I moved to the more strategic side, so commerce strategies and five years plans.

“I started working at Albert Heijn because I went through the economic school at the University of Amsterdam. The holy grail for economic students is mergers and acquisitions, so I started in that after my studies, but quickly realised this is not my holy grail.

“There’s no physical product and I experienced an individual performance focus, less than a team focus. There weren’t many deals, the atmosphere in the office wasn’t great and I thought to myself, wow this is not my cup of tea.

Startup success flywheel. From Startup birth to talent joining and receiving stock options to starting their own companies

The Case for Favorable Taxation of Stock Options in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, stock options are taxed via payroll tax (at a high rate compared to, for example, capital gains tax as is the case in several other countries). While countries such as the US, the UK and Sweden have a facility whereby options are taxed more favourably, this is lacking in the Netherlands. Startups indicate that partly because of this we are not optimally positioning ourselves to attract the best international talent. The Dutch government is currently working on a measure to postpone the moment of taxation, but the tax rate is not part of this policy adjustment. If we really want to create a mature and successful ecosystem like the Netherlands, this is one of the measures that the new cabinet should take. In this way, we ensure that the flywheel can really start to turn in the Netherlands.

Find out more about employee participation

Read more about the research of I&O research into the use of employee participation among start-ups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs

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