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Chobani CEO Gives up to 10 Percent of Company Shares to Employees

Chobani CEO Gives up to 10 Percent of Company Shares to Employees

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

When was the last time your boss handed you an envelope worth more than $1 million? For some employees at Chobani, the answer may be more realistic than you’d think. According to USA Today, CEO and Founder Hamdi Ulukaya recently told his company’s 2,000 full-time employees at its Upstate New York plant that they will be receiving shares worth up to ten percent of the company’s value when it goes public or is sold.

Hamdi Ulukaya, Chairman and CEO, Chobani

“This isn’t a gift,” Ulukaya wrote in a letter to employees that USA TODAY obtained. “It’s a mutual promise to work together with a shared purpose and responsibility. To continue to create something special and of lasting value.”

This past Tuesday morning, each employee was given a packet with details on how many shares they would be receiving. Based on tenure, the average amount could be worth tens of thousands of dollars, or even more than one million for some longer serving employees.

“How we built this company matters to me, but how we grow it matters even more,” Ulukaya continued in his letter. “I want you not only to be a part of this growth—I want you to be the driving force of it. To share in our success, to be rewarded by it.”

Chobani's Idaho Facility

While the strategy of giving employees part ownership stake in a company is not a new concept, it’s more common to see this method in companies that rely on "highly skilled knowledge workers," Rita McGrath, Professor of Management at Columbia Business School, told USA today. "Many companies in food are kind of in the commodity business," she added. "They don’t see the immediate benefit of having really highly engaged people."

Will this strategy be enough to push employee engagement and continue Chobani down  its pathway of success? DeliMarket News will give you all the follow-up.