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BT Colleagues Connected To Future Success With Free Share Award

Monday, 14 September 2020

In May of 2019, BT announced an exciting new share plan, providing 100,000 colleagues £500 worth of free BT shares.

This share plan formed part of a broader company strategy to create a new and re-energised BT that gave each and every colleague a stake in the future success of the company.

Once the award was announced, EQ worked closely with BT and the project team over the design. It was agreed at an early stage that the award needed to be inclusive and straightforward. So, where we could make the award in shares then we would, but also to realise the constraints for some jurisdictions either due to tax complexity or the small numbers of colleagues. A further wish was to go digital where possible, given the international nature of the plan.

Whether in the UK or further afield, an agent on the phone or an engineer on the road, the plan needed to be accessible to all colleagues, fostering productivity, growth and inclusivity in the workplace.

Introducing yourshare, global award with a personal touch

The project team worked to assess the geographical, generational and demographic diversity of the workforce, to ensure we developed a plan that met the needs of every individual colleague.

Key objective 1: Empower and motivate colleagues

BT’s objective is to put the customer at the heart of everything we do and to become a national champion. By offering shares in BT to people at every level, in every country, the entire workforce is encouraged to feel like they have a stake in the future success of the company. It means everyone is aligned and has an interest in BT’s share price and the future of the business.


To kick start the new colleague profit share plan, BT would offer 100,000 colleagues an initial award of £500 worth of shares, with an annual award every year that follows, the value of which would depend on the performance of the company.  For those in Openreach, whilst the award is delivered in BT shares, BT agreed with Ofcom the value would be based on Openreach performance.

Colleagues would need to be employed on 31 December in the year before the date of grant and employed on the date of grant (the date the shares are awarded).

Colleagues would also need to hold the shares for three years before selling them, ensuring engagement throughout.

Key objective 2: Deliver on an international scale

While 80,000 colleagues were awarded shares through the UK SIP, 20% of the workforce is global, so the new plan needed to work in over 50 jurisdictions, navigating complex local tax rules. The information needed to be accessible for international colleagues, ensuring communications were clear, concise, engaging and digital wherever possible.


To ensure all international colleagues were looked after, BT used a mixture of cash, phantoms and conditional share awards for non-UK colleagues to comply with local tax laws.

The EQ share plans portal and all relevant documents used by BT colleagues to accept their award were translated into multiple languages, with over 20% accepting their awards during the first two days.

Using the award acceptance also meant that MIFID data could be collected online to make the handling of early leavers simpler. At vesting, colleagues will be given the option to retain their shares, where permitted in the Global Nominee, to simplify the shareholding of international colleagues through a fully online solution.

Defining success

BT may have operated share plans since privatisation, but it continues to be as dedicated as ever to ensuring it is a benefit that all colleagues value. Since the award in June, 11,190 colleagues internationally (55%), have accepted, with reminders those who haven't yet accepted.

A Guide To Free Share Awards Tabbed Content 4

"I have really enjoyed working with BT over the design and implementation of this new truly all-employee share plan. Using a mix of plans, BT has been able to offer this share-based award to all their colleagues across the globe and take advantage of the well understood SIP free share element in the UK. Using award acceptance features for the CSA's has meant that MIFID data could be captured at this stage to make the vesting process simpler for all BT participants and the BT payroll team!"

Tim Baker, Director, Employee Share Plans

A Guide To Free Share Awards Tabbed Content 2

"The delivery of yourshare across BT is nothing short of fantastic. Our focus has absolutely been on keeping it simple to align with BT’s values and we’ve definitely achieved that.  Tim and the EQ team have really helped us to think outside the box and make maximum use of the digital solutions available to us."

Anna Watch, Senior Manager Corporate Governance