Do you remember the feeling you had when you opened the box that held your first smartphone? Or when you turned into the driveway in your first car? Or when you walked through the doors of your first home?

Ownership activates a deeper relationship than renting or borrowing. Our relationship to things we own is longer and more relational, full of stories. You can remember exactly when your phone cracked, and you won’t forget how many hours you spent remodeling your kitchen. The value of stories isn’t as quantifiable as value of the objects we own, but it is seemingly more satisfying.

When outsiders look into employee owned companies, they see employees working harder and working at companies longer—enjoying their jobs. Employees are loyal, they assume, for the financial incentives. Economic researchers at Harvard and University College London found, however, that individual incentives like merit pay or bonuses don’t inspire the same motivation as group incentives like a company-wide stock plan.

Why is this? As an employee owner, you’re not a minor character in the company’s story. You and your fellow employee owners are the storytellers, and every day, your work adds value to our company and unfolds another part of of who we are. Owning the company means that you have a deeper relationship to both our outcomes and our rewards.

It’s not surprise that employee owners have higher job satisfaction. They’re not simply chasing a carrot; they own and cultivate the garden.