How do Profit-Sharing Plans work?

Pension or retirement plans are typical for employees working in companies. Through these plans, they can ensure they receive income after retirement. There are several retirement plans where they, their employer, or both contribute an amount. Some plans offer a fixed contribution upon retirement. However, some others come with uncertain future income. One such retirement plan is the profit-sharing plan.

What is the Profit Sharing Plan?

The profit-sharing plan is a pension plan in which the employee receives a share of the company’s profits as benefits. Another name used for this plan is the deferred profit-sharing plan. Each employee registered in this plan gets a portion of the company profits. The company sets a percentage for them, and their benefits depend on the company’s annual or quarterly earnings.

Although profit-sharing plans offer varying incomes, they have a higher motivational impact on employees. Due to the variable income received by employees, the profit-sharing plan falls under the category of the defined contribution plan. The employee makes specific contributions during their employment. The company or their employer can also choose to contribute to the scheme.

Profit-sharing plans aren’t restricted retirement plans. Companies may also offer other retirement plans, such as IRAs alongside these plans. The company also chooses the terms for the profit-sharing scheme. On top of that, the company can set the qualifying criteria for employees who can join this plan. Companies don’t have to be profitable to offer these plans.

How do Profit-Sharing Plans work?

Profit-sharing plans work similarly to other defined-contribution schemes. With profit-sharing plans, employees can make contributions to the plan. Usually, these contributions are specific. As mentioned, the employer may also choose to contribute to the plan, although it isn’t mandatory. Any contributions go to a qualified tax-deferred retirement account which allows penalty-free distributions.

After retiring, employees can receive their share of profits. These benefits usually start after the employee has reached the age of 59 and a half. Profit-sharing plans allow employees to choose between either cash compensations or company stock.  Some profit-sharing plans also provide employees with loans, which they can take before their retirement age.

The company offering such plans decides on how much each employee will get allotted. It can use a formula for profit allocation. The company can also adjust the plan as needed. Using this, the company can determine the total of the overall employees’ compensation. After that, it is possible to find each employee’s percentage by dividing each employee’s annual compensation by that total.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Profit Sharing Plans?

Profit-sharing plans can be significantly beneficial to both the company and its employees. Through these plans, companies can keep their employees motivated and gain a competitive advantage. Profit-sharing plans align the company’s objectives with those of the employee. Overall, the efficiency and productivity rates within the company can increase substantially.

However, profit-sharing plans can also be demotivating. When some employees receive higher profit portions, others will become demotivated. Similarly, these plans can introduce additional costs, which can impact a company’s operations. On top of that, employees get no guarantee they will receive income in the future if the company makes losses.


Profit-sharing plans are retirement plans in which employees can receive a portion of the company’s profits on retirement. These plans are a type of defined-contribution plan. The company that set up this plan decides on its terms and how much each employee will receive. Profit-sharing plans can be beneficial but may also come with some disadvantages.

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