Employers in the UK and the Netherlands are more likely to offer share
schemes than other EU countries.
In both, 45 per cent of companies provide selective and broadly based,
all-employee share schemes, with France close behind on 41 per cent.
Overall, France is the European country most likely to have financial
participation by staff, with nearly 90 per cent of businesses having introduced
some form of profit-sharing scheme.
There was an increase in the use of share schemes in EU countries during the
1990s. But, there are still large differences across them.
On the whole, the higher the amount of participation schemes in a country,
the higher the tendency for them to be broadly based.
Similar patterns exist across Europe, although the incidence varies
considerably. There are differences between sectors – broadly-based schemes are
found, to a greater extent, in business services and, in particular, in
In all other sectors selective, or narrow-based, schemes are marginally more
common. This is linked to expertise. Broad-based schemes are more likely to be
found in companies with a more highly qualified workforce in business services.
The higher incidence of knowledge professionals in this sector makes it
necessary for enterprises to develop financial participation schemes, so as to
bind personnel to the company.
There is a relationship between financial participation arrangements and
other forms of employee participation (including trades union representation) –
enterprises with financial participation are more likely to also have other
arrangements in place. Research findings show financial participation works
best, for example, in supporting ‘high performance’ work, when it is integrated
with other participative, information and consultation arrangements. Trade
unionism is neither positive nor negative for share options, but has an impact
by making schemes less selective and broadens the eligibility of financial
participation schemes to all employees.