Compensation

When Your Job IPOs

You may or may not strike it rich, but one thing is certain: things will change.

Uber. Dropbox. Pinterest. Slack. These household names are all looking to go public this year, making 2019 an even bigger year for IPOs than last year. That’s saying a lot, considering more than 188 companies went public in 2018 and raised more than $45 billion.

And while many of the changes that occur when a company becomes traded on a stock exchange happen at the C-suite level, the fluctuations up top ultimately affect the average employees of these firms. Hiring sprees may occur, roles may be reorganized, and there’s always more scrutiny over policies and regulations, now that the company is accountable to investors.

The focus on compliance can create a feeling that you have less control over your own destiny.

Ultimately, this means you could find yourself working for a much different firm than you did before. If it looks like your business may be going down this path, here are answers to some of your most burnings questions. (Don’t worry, we’ll address the get-rich-quick query.)

What’s going to happen during the transition?

It’s probably going to be stressful. And possibly even chaotic.

Be prepared for “admin, admin, admin,” says Kirsta Anderson, senior client partner and global solution leader for Culture Transformation at Korn Ferry. Because regulation is more stringent on public companies, expect an increase in the amount of administration required to comply with those rules. The focus on compliance can create a feeling that you have less control over your own destiny. This uncertainty, more than your workload, can create a deeper level of stress, so being aware that this may happen is a good way to keep perspective.

What does the IPO mean for my career?

The good news is that there’s somewhat of a halo effect from working at a company that goes public. It gives you credibility, or at least an aura, of being successful. So, whether you’re looking to leave now or curious about future opportunities, the IPO will look pretty stellar on your resume.

One thing you can highlight from enduring the IPO process is your agility and flexibility. Potential future employers will see that you have talent, hustle, and, most importantly, resilience. So use that to your advantage when you’re interviewing for your next move .

Am I going to get rich?

Admit it. It’s on your mind. Will you be able to cash in? The answer is, it depends.  

If you have shares in the company, you’re at an advantage because you may be one of those folks who becomes an on-paper millionaire overnight. But keep in mind that there’s a slew of factors that come into play for that to happen, including when you joined the company and the number of stock options available. There also can be a moratorium on selling your shares, and during this period of time, the stock price may decline. Stocks may also be taxed between 15% and over 39%, depending whether they’re treated as long-term capital gains or income, so consult an accountant or financial advisor before making any major decisions.

And even if you have just a few shares or none at all, the IPO should create an infusion of cash for the company to invest in growth, Anderson says. That can create exciting opportunities for employees, which could mean the right time to ask for your next raise is now.

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