How to Calculate Profit Sharing

What is profit sharing?

Profit sharing is a compensation arrangement where a company distributes a portion of its profits to its employees. This distribution is typically in addition to regular wages or salaries and is intended to reward employees for their contributions to the company’s success.

Imagine a company as a pie. The bigger the pie, the more profit the company makes. In a profit-sharing arrangement, the company decides to slice up the pie and give some slices to its employees, on top of their regular salary.

This way, employees share in the company’s success. If the company does well and the pie gets bigger, employees get larger slices. It motivates employees to work harder because they see a direct connection between their efforts and their compensation.

Profit sharing can also boost employee morale and loyalty. Employees feel valued as partners in the company’s success, not just hired hands. Keep reading to learn how to calculate profit sharing.

Basic Formula for Profit Sharing

A basic formula for profit sharing typically involves determining the total profit to be shared and then distributing this amount among eligible employees based on a set of criteria. Here’s a step-by-step outline of a simple profit-sharing formula:

Steps to Calculate Profit Sharing

  1. Determine Total Profits:
    • Calculate the total profits of the company for the specified period (e.g., quarterly, annually).
  2. Allocate Profit Sharing Pool:
    • Decide the percentage of total profits that will be allocated to the profit-sharing pool. For example, a company might decide to share 10% of its profits with employees.

Profit Sharing Pool=Total Profits×Percentage Allocated\text{Profit Sharing Pool} = \text{Total Profits} \times \text{Percentage Allocated}Profit Sharing Pool=Total Profits×Percentage Allocated

  1. Determine Employee Eligibility:
    • Identify which employees are eligible for profit sharing based on the company’s criteria (e.g., length of service, employment status).
  2. Calculate Individual Shares:
    • Distribute the profit-sharing pool among eligible employees based on predetermined criteria. Common criteria include the employee’s salary, length of service, or a combination of these.

Profit Sharing Example Formula

Let’s say a company decides to share 10% of its profits with employees, and the total profit for the year is $1,000,000. The profit-sharing pool would be:

Profit Sharing Pool=$1,000,000×10%=$100,000\ Profit Sharing Pool} = \$1,000,000 \times 10\% = \$100,000Profit Sharing Pool=$1,000,000×10%=$100,000

Individual Share Calculation Based on Salary

If the distribution is based on the employee’s salary, the formula could be:

Individual Share=Employee’s SalaryTotal Salaries of All Eligible Employees×Profit Sharing Pool\{Individual Share} =  {Employee’s Salary}{Total Salaries of All Eligible Employees}} \times \{Profit Sharing Pool}Individual Share=Total Salaries of All Eligible Employee’s Salary​×Profit Sharing Pool

Suppose there are three eligible employees with the following annual salaries:

  • Employee A: $50,000
  • Employee B: $70,000
  • Employee C: $80,000

The total salaries of all eligible employees would be:

Total Salaries=$50,000+$70,000+$80,000=$200,000\{Total Salaries} = \$50,000 + \$70,000 + \$80,000 = \$200,000=$50,000+$70,000+$80,000=$200,000

Then, each employee’s share would be calculated as follows:

  • Employee A:

Employee A’s Share=$50,000$200,000×$100,000=0.25×$100,000=$25,000\text{Employee A’s Share} = \frac{\$50,000}{\$200,000} \times \$100,000 = 0.25 \times \$100,000 = \$25,000Employee A’s Share=$200,000$50,000​×$100,000=0.25×$100,000=$25,000

  • Employee B:

Employee B’s Share=$70,000$200,000×$100,000=0.35×$100,000=$35,000\text{Employee B’s Share} = \frac{\$70,000}{\$200,000} \times \$100,000 = 0.35 \times \$100,000 = \$35,000Employee B’s Share=$200,000$70,000​×$100,000=0.35×$100,000=$35,000

  • Employee C:

Employee C’s Share=$80,000$200,000×$100,000=0.40×$100,000=$40,000\text{Employee C’s Share} = \frac{\$80,000}{\$200,000} \times \$100,000 = 0.40 \times \$100,000 = \$40,000Employee C’s Share=$200,000$80,000​×$100,000=0.40×$100,000=$40,000

Key Points to Consider

  • Fairness and Transparency: Ensure the formula is perceived as fair and is transparently communicated to all employees.
  • Simplicity: Keep the formula simple to understand and implement.
  • Regular Review: Periodically review and adjust the formula as needed to reflect changes in the company’s financial performance or strategic goals.

Profit Sharing Example Formula Image

profit sharing calculating examples

What is a good profit sharing percentage?

Determining a good profit-sharing percentage depends on various factors, including the company’s size, profitability, industry standards, and strategic goals. However, there are some general guidelines and considerations that can help in deciding an appropriate percentage:

General Guidelines

  1. Industry Standards:
    • Research typical profit-sharing percentages within your industry. This can help ensure your plan is competitive and attractive to employees.
  2. Company Profitability:
    • Consider the company’s overall profitability. More profitable companies can afford to share a higher percentage of profits without compromising financial stability.
  3. Employee Motivation and Retention:
    • Ensure the percentage is significant enough to motivate employees and enhance retention. A percentage that feels substantial to employees can drive better performance and loyalty.

Typical Ranges

  • Small to Medium-Sized Businesses:
    • A common range is 5% to 10% of annual profits. This range balances rewarding employees while retaining sufficient funds for reinvestment and growth.
  • Larger Corporations:
    • Larger companies might offer 2% to 5% of annual profits due to their higher overall profit amounts. Even a smaller percentage can result in substantial bonuses for employees.
  • Highly Profitable Companies:
    • In very profitable companies, the percentage might be lower, but the actual amounts distributed can still be significant. Conversely, some high-growth or high-profit companies may offer more than 10% to create a highly incentivized workforce.


  1. Financial Health:
    • Ensure the chosen percentage does not jeopardize the company’s financial health. The plan should be sustainable even in less profitable years.
  2. Profit Fluctuations:
    • If profits are highly variable, consider a flexible percentage or a capped amount to maintain predictability and control over distributions.
  3. Employee Base:
    • The size and composition of your employee base matter. A larger workforce might necessitate a lower percentage to ensure the profit-sharing pool is substantial enough to be meaningful for each employee.
  4. Long-Term Goals:
    • Align the profit-sharing plan with long-term business goals. If the company is in a growth phase, you might allocate a smaller percentage to profits and reinvest more into the business.

Benefits of Profit Sharing Plans

Should my company offer a profit sharing plan? This is the question many companies ask themselves as they start to grow and find it crucial to incentivize their employees.  Below we have outlined some basic benefits of profit sharing plans.

  1. Motivation and Productivity:
    • Employees are often more motivated to work efficiently and effectively when they know their efforts can directly impact their earnings through profit sharing.
  2. Alignment of Interests:
    • Profit sharing aligns the interests of employees with those of the company, as everyone benefits from the company’s success.
  3. Retention and Attraction of Talent:
    • Offering profit sharing can make a company more attractive to potential employees and help retain current staff by providing additional financial incentives.
  4. Enhanced Teamwork and Collaboration:
    • When employees are working towards a common goal of increased profitability, it can foster a stronger sense of teamwork and collaboration.
  5. Financial Flexibility for Employers:
    • Since profit sharing is tied to the company’s profitability, it provides financial flexibility. In less profitable years, the amount distributed may be lower, which can help the company manage its expenses better.

The best way to implement a profit sharing plan

Implementing a profit sharing plan correctly is crucial to your companies success.  At Plentive we have found the best way to do this is to use our software, Plentive, that takes all the work out of it for your company.

If you’d prefer to try it on your own first, be sure to follow these steps for success:

  1. Define Objectives and Goals

Set Clear Objectives:

  • Determine what you want to achieve with the profit-sharing plan, such as improving employee motivation, increasing productivity, enhancing retention, or aligning employee efforts with company goals.
  1. Design the Plan

Choose a Profit-Sharing Model:

  • Decide whether the plan will be cash-based or deferred. Cash-based plans provide immediate bonuses, while deferred plans contribute to retirement accounts.

Determine the Profit Pool:

  • Decide what percentage of annual profits will be allocated to the profit-sharing pool. A common range is 5% to 10% of annual profits, but this can vary based on company size and profitability.

Set Eligibility Criteria:

  • Define who is eligible for profit sharing. Criteria can include length of service, employment status (full-time vs. part-time), and performance metrics.
  1. Develop a Distribution Formula

Create a Fair Distribution Method:

  • Develop a formula to distribute profits among eligible employees. Common methods include distributing based on salary, length of service, or individual performance metrics.
  1. Communicate the Plan

Transparent Communication:

  • Clearly explain the profit-sharing plan to all employees. Detail how the plan works, eligibility requirements, the distribution formula, and how and when payouts will occur.

Regular Updates:

  • Provide regular updates on company performance and how it impacts profit-sharing distributions. Transparency builds trust and keeps employees motivated.
  1. Implement the Plan

Integrate with Payroll:

  • Ensure the profit-sharing plan is integrated with the company’s payroll system to facilitate smooth and accurate distributions.

Monitor and Adjust:

  • Regularly review the plan’s effectiveness and make necessary adjustments. Seek employee feedback to ensure the plan continues to meet its objectives.
  1. Legal and Financial Considerations


  • Ensure the plan complies with relevant laws and regulations, including tax implications. Consult with legal and financial advisors to structure the plan appropriately.


  • Document the plan details clearly, including eligibility criteria, distribution formulas, and payout schedules. Make this documentation accessible to all employees.
  1. Evaluate and Improve

Performance Review:

  • Regularly assess the plan’s impact on employee motivation, productivity, and company performance. Use metrics and employee feedback to gauge success.

Continuous Improvement:

  • Be open to making changes based on the evaluation. Adjust the profit-sharing percentage, distribution criteria, or communication strategies as needed.

Example Implementation Plan

  1. Objective: Increase employee engagement and productivity.
  2. Profit Pool: Allocate 7% of annual profits.
  3. Eligibility: All employees with at least one year of service.
  4. Distribution Formula: Based on each employee’s annual salary relative to the total salaries of all eligible employees.
  5. Communication: Hold an all-staff meeting to introduce the plan, followed by detailed emails and a Q&A session.
  6. Payouts: Annually, in conjunction with end-of-year financial results.

By following these steps, you can design and implement a profit-sharing plan that motivates employees, aligns with company goals, and contributes to overall business success.

Download a few of our free resources below to take your company on the road to success.


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