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Snakk mulls employee shares in remuneration packages

Snakk mulls employee shares in remuneration packages

By Fiona Rotherham

Sept. 17 (BusinessDesk) - NZAX-listed Snakk Media is considering offering employees shares in the company as part of their remuneration package.

At the annual meeting in Auckland yesterday, chairman and major shareholder Derek Handley said the board would consider extending the current Employee Share Options plan to include a mix of equity and options.

That comes as the company, which helps brands find and reach consumers using apps, games and social media on their smartphones, tablets and other smart screens, has earned a place on the third annual ‘Best for Workers’ list for achieving a worker impact score in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations.

The ‘Best for Workers’ companies come from more than 25 different industries such as consulting and financial services, renewable energy installation and technical services. One third of honorees are based outside North America, though Snakk is the only Kiwi public company to have made the list this year.

The metrics assessed for the ‘Best for Workers’ list include a company’s compensation and benefits, health and wellness programmes, parent-friendly flex time and leave policies, professional development and internal promotion, corporate culture, profit sharing and ownership opportunities.

Snakk Media chief executive Mark Ryan said it wanted its 32 staff to be successful at work and in life.

“Happiness, health, attitude, and our everyday outlook all contribute to our performance: in our jobs, our relationships and in our communities,” Ryan said.

By allowing staff to own part of the company through the Employee Share Options Plan, Snakk was more than just a day job, he said.

The number of options vary depending on length of service and seniority of their job and staff can borrow from the company to buy the options. Ryan borrowed from the company to buy half of the 50,000 options available to him

He said he supported giving shares directly under a new share plan providing it was leveraged against team performance. That's despite the company's $1.8 million loss in the past financial year including an expense for 481,000 staff options that were yet to be taken up.

There are nearly 110 Certified B Corporations that have met the rigorous standards of overall social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of the not for profit B Corporation, said with Millennials' increasing demand for worklife integration, B Corps were winning the talent war,

Ryan said two-thirds of Snakk's staff were Millennials who had different demands from their workplace than previous generations, including the need for it to be engaged in social responsibility in a meaningful way. One example of that was Snakk allowed staff to have a certain number of days off each quarter to work for good causes although these have to be pre-vetted by him to ensure they were genuine - "not just patting dogs."

Millennials also don't want key performance indicators (KPIs), they want challenges, he said. "There's an old tech adage that you don't tell a guy to do something, you give him a problem and the answer will be what you wanted him to do. I've focused on doing that in this company so they just aren't ticking the box."

Typically younger staff also like a lot of communication about what was happening with the company - good or bad - and want the same information as that given to the senior management team though delivered in an informal way, he said.

Although Snakk had "very low staff churn", Ryan brought in consultants in the past financial year to hold workshops on staff performance and to set the values of the company.

He told shareholders when he took the list of values they had worked on to the board, directors asked when they could have input. He replied "you don't" because staff own the values. They include heart, vitality, integrity, achievement, and continuous improvement.

Snakk Media reported a 92 per cent rise in sales revenue to just over $7 million and has appointed Hall Capital to advise on its capital strategy, including a potential ASX listing.

The shares last traded at 10.1 cents, valuing the company at $26.8 million. The stock has climbed 26 percent over the past 12 months.


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