BT is to award shares to its staff as part of a move to drive employee engagement at a time when it is investing heavily in infrastructure and cutting costs.
New CEO Philip Jansen said the ‘Yourshare’ scheme will amount to £50 million every year, or £500 per employee.
Staff will need to retain the shares for three years before they can be sold – an attempt to encourage “long-term” thinking among the workforce who will have a vested interest in the company’s success.
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“I want to make BT a company that exceeds our customers’ expectations and does a brilliant job for the country,” said Jansen. “To achieve that, I’m going to start with our colleagues: the 100,000 people involved in developing and delivering the essential products and services that connect millions of people across the globe.
“I’m asking our colleagues for their commitment to making BT a national champion; and I want to give them ownership in our company and a share in our success. Placing customers at the heart of BT will only be possible by investing in the lifeblood of the business, our people, giving everyone a stake as we build a better BT for the future.”
BT has increased its fibre to the premise (FTTP) rollout target to four million by 2021 and 15 million by the mid-2020s – if it there is a suitable investment and regulatory climate. It is also planning to launch 5G “imminently.”
It had been speculated that BT would cut its dividend for the first time since 2009 in order to fund infrastructure expansion – a move which some shareholders would have accepted if long-term gains could be proved – but this did not materialise.
Jansen is overseeing the implementation of a restructuring plan introduced by former CEO Gavin Patterson that will see 13,000 jobs but and operations de-centralised to 30 sites around the UK. As part of the restructure, BT will vacate its London St Paul’s headquarters.
It is hoped the changes will save £1.3 billion, allow the more streamlined company to react more rapidly to market trends, and means it can get closer to customers.
However, unions oppose the plans and believe it could have a negative impact on morale – something this share offer is designed to address.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.