Owning It: Why Our Agency Has Employee Shareholders
When I started Zehnder 20 years ago, I was the only owner (and only employee). But even then, I knew that I wanted my agency to be different — not only in the way we approached our work and client relationships, but also in the way in which we were structured as a company.
About Our Employee Shareholder Program
I wanted my employees to have real financial ownership in our company, which was (and is) different than most other agencies' structure. Whereas family inheritances and personal favorites often play a role in company ownership decisions, at Zehnder our process is fair and transparent: If you've been an employee with us for a certain number of years, you are eligible to become a shareholder. Everyone at Zehnder has an equal opportunity to become a shareholder, and that impacts our agency for the better.
To date, Zehnder has 15 shareholders — and I hope that number continues to grow for the benefit of our employees, our company, and our clients.
Being a Great Agency
I'm confident that Zehnder's employee ownership opportunity program is part of what enables us to produce great work. And great work is what makes a great agency.
Speaking of great work, that's part of Zehnder's mission: Do great work, have fun, make a difference, and earn a fair profit. These values are the foundation of everything we do at Zehnder, and having an employee ownership program available (whether employees choose to particpate in it or not) complements this mission perfectly. If an employee lives out our mission at the office for a certain amount of years, he or she has the opportunity to own part of that mission.
This type of opportunity at our agency is one reason why our employees like to work here. More than 20% of our staff has been at Zehnder for over ten years — a rarity in the industry. As a result, our company and our clients benefit from increased institutional knowledge, experience, and collaboration between our teams. At Zehnder, successess are celebrated by everyone at the agency, no matter what their title. Bonuses, raises, and company-wide celebrations are part of our office culture, which centers on acknowledging accomplishments of all sizes. It makes me feel good to know that when the agency does well, it can make a positive impact on our employees' lives.
I'm confident that implementing an employee shareholder program 20 years ago was one of the best decisions I've made as a CEO. And I can't wait to see this program flourish over the next 20 years, too. Here's to making a difference for our clients, our employees, and the industry!
Zehnder's shareholders include: Shawn Bailly, Senior Software Engineer; Jennifer Boneno, Director of Account Services; Henry Chassaignac, President/Executive Creative Director; Shea Duet, Creative Operations & Integrations Manager; John Elstrott, Member of Board of Advisors; William Gilbert, Creative Director; Joann Habisreitinger, Media Director; Rob Hudak, Creative Technologist; Kate Lundin, Associate Media Director; Dave Maher, Chief Digital Officer; Mike Rainey, Creative Director; Craig Shultz, Director of Project Management; Tambry Slavich, Senior PR Manager; Jeff Zehnder, CEO