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249 pages
evolution 2006-2021
main findings of census 2021
more than 100 tables and graphs
democratization rate in various countries
list of all most remarkable companies
ordinary employees and top executives
employee representation on boards
discrimination in voting rights
ownership control
listed companies
and much more

An exhaustive picture based on the EFES database (the 2.800 European companies gathering 95% of employment in all European listed companies).




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  Employee share ownership in Europe in 2021

New progression for employee shareholders in Europe last year, with a capitalization held of 433 billion Euro in shares in their companies, a new record figure. Happy news for all those who can benefit from employee share plans.

The development of employee share ownership has continued in large European companies in 2021. More and more of them are organizing employee share plans. In 2021, 88% of all large European companies had employee share plans of all kinds, while 53% had "broad-based" plans for all employees, and 60% had stock option plans. Finally, 32% of all large European companies launched new employee share plans, a proportion that tends to increase from year to year.

However employee share ownership is in danger within Europe. It is becoming less and less democratic. The number of employee shareholders decreased last year and it is lower than it was ten years before; 7 million employee shareholders are now recorded in large companies; if we add one million in SMEs, the total number in Europe reaches 8 million (Graph 1). The fall in the democratization rate of employee share ownership has been dramatic over the last ten years. And the employees' stake in the ownership structure of large European companies is decreasing for five years now.

In addition, a shift has occurred between the share held by top executives and that of ordinary employees, that of democratic employee share ownership. For the first time in European listed companies, the share held by top executives exceeds that of ordinary employees (Graph 2). In fact, as recently as 15 years ago, the top executives as a whole held 1.06% compared to 1.45% for ordinary employees; today it is 1.53% for the top executives compared to 1.48% for the others. A group of 10,000 top executives (on average four in each company) now owns more than the 34 million employees of large European companies. That’s more than 20 million Euros on average for each top executive, and 30,000 for each ordinary employee shareholder.

Graph 1

Graph 2

It should also be noted that the share held by ordinary employees is back to the same level as fifteen years ago. This observation sanctions Europe's failure to promote a democratic employee share ownership policy.

Promoting democratic employee ownership is indeed a political choice, usually supported by fiscal incentives. Without support, the average employee cannot afford to invest financially in his or her company. Few European countries do this effectively.

On the contrary, we observe that the top executives have not lacked the resources to do so. Have public policies to support employee share ownership, where they exist, been poorly calibrated and misused by top executives? We can see that this is not the case; in fact, the share of the 1.53% resulting from the exercise of stock options and other plans is microscopic, representing only 0.05%.

However, where, in which countries has the share of top executives multiplied the most over the last fifteen years, and where has it been contained? The share of top executives increased the most in countries where democratic share plans are most absent. Where has the share of top executives been contained? Where democratic employee ownership is most significant. This is particularly the case in France, the country with the highest share of ordinary employees in Europe (3.50%), and the rare country where the share of top executives has not soared, since it is now at the same level as fifteen years ago (1.05%).

The facts are plain to see: Democratic employee ownership is a guarantee of balance. Its absence or weakness opens the door to the soaring share held by top executives.

Your comments

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"Merci pour ce travail récurrent si précieux !"

"Remarkable work ! Thanks and congratulation".

"Nous sommes en phase de finalisation du texte concernant une saisine au CESE en France. Votre publication pourrait nous être fort utile."

"Muchas gracias por la información y felicitaciones..."

"I would be very eager to update my analysis based on new data."

"Can you provide data on individual companies, e.g. in an excel spread sheet, so we can see which companies have stock options? This would be very useful for our statistical analysis."

"Sans votre soutien précieux, en m'aidant à constituer la base de données statistiques ayant permis la réalisation des deux études quantitatives longitudinales de l'impact de l'actionnariat salarié sur la performance des grandes entreprises françaises cotées, ma thèse n'aurait pas pu voir le jour."

  Database of European companies
The data are available for analysing companies, for benchmarking, for market research, as well as for research work and teaching, and for macroeconomic analysis. The database gathers economic and financial information about employee ownership in the 2.800 largest European companies, including listed and non-listed companies. More information

  The European Employee Ownership Top 100
The European Employee Ownership TOP 100 is designed with respect to two rankings of Europe's largest companies, considering employee ownership. In the EUROCAP100 ranking, companies are ranked by equity held by employees, in million Euro. In the EUROEMP100 ranking, companies that are 50% or more employee-owned are ranked by number of employees. Both rankings are published in the Economic Survey.

Each European country can easily be compared to others through a specific country file, using a set of 10 graphs, using fully comparable information.


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  Survey 2014   Survey 2013   Survey 2012   Survey 2011
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For information and contact
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Tel: +32 (0)2 242 64 30 - Fax: +32 (0)2 791 96 00
E-mail: efes@efesonline.org
Web site: www.efesonline.org
EFES' objective is to act as the umbrella organization of employee owners, companies and all persons, trade unions, experts, researchers, institutions looking to promote employee ownership and participation in Europe.