These 10 Companies Are Generous with Stock Options
With stock awards and options, equity compensation programs can serve as additional ways to pay workers beyond wages or salaries. They supplement base pay to provide competitive compensation, can act as a recognition tool to award employees for satisfactory work, and they help ensure that employees’ interests are aligned with shareholders. These 10 employers from Fortune‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For list understand the importance of those three objectives and offer their employees ample equity programs. Here’s a look at what the best employers in the U.S. are doing to retain their highest-performing employees.
100 Best Companies rank: 11
At Genentech all exempt employees and hourly workers who put in at least 20 hours per week are eligible for the company’s Long Term Incentive program and receive the grants as part of their overall compensation package. About two-thirds of an employee’s annual award is received in stock-settled stock appreciation rights and the remaining third in restricted stock units (RSUs). In 2014, over 97% of the company’s employees received long-term incentive benefits, which are awarded based on their performance. In addition to the equity programs themselves, Genentech also offers financial counseling sessions to ensure that workers understand their benefits and take advantage of them.
100 Best Companies rank: 95
GoDaddy (GDDY), which was founded just under 20 years ago, made it back onto Fortune’s 100 Best Companies list this year for the second time. When it went public in April of last year, GoDaddy offered its employees non-qualified stock options. The initial six-month lock up period following its IPO ended this past October, at which point they were allowed to begin trading their shares, though a majority chose to hold onto them. The technology provider also offers a stock purchase plan that offers employees the opportunity to buy and sell stock every six months at a discounted rate of 15%.
100 Best Companies rank: 21
This Michigan-based medical technology company provides employees with investment opportunities, offering stock options and restricted stock units as a way to “attract, motivate, and retain the most talented people.” These grants generally begin to vest after a period of one year. Stryker (SYK), which had a global revenue of over $9 billion last year, also offers an employee stock purchase plan which, similar to other companies on the list, lets employees purchase shares at a discounted price. That option could become even more appealing if its recent acquisition of Physio-Control International proves to be a good investment.
4. The Cheesecake Factory
100 Best Companies rank: 98
The Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) tells Fortune that it was the first restaurant company to allow management team members to become shareholders, and it remains one of the few. The upscale casual chain restaurant was founded in 1978 and employs upwards of 35,000 people. It uses stock awards in the form of stock options and RSUs as a retention tool for general managers and executive kitchen managers. These options vest over a period of five years, and vesting becoming more desirable with each subsequent grant. The retention strategy appears to be working as 94% of employees say that the company offers great rewards and 97% say they’re proud to work there.
100 Best Companies rank: 50
Though Aflac (AFL) keeps the details of its equity programs private, we do know that the company provides stock options and other incentives to demonstrate its appreciation for its employees and ensure that they have a vested interest in the company’s work. Though Aflac may be best known for its amusing duck mascot, the supplemental health and life insurance provider is a giant in its industry. It reported over $22 billion in worldwide revenue last year and its CEO, Daniel Amos, has been heading the company for over a quarter of a century.
100 Best Companies rank: 52
A large majority of the Cadence’s (CDNS) employees are currently shareholders. Though stock options are offered exclusively to members of the executive team, 44% of employees were granted restricted stock units last year. That includes the majority of new hires who received stock compensation as well as seasoned, high performing employees. Cadence also offers an employee stock purchase program that not only gives workers a 15% discount, but also offers a 6-month look-back. Since current president and CEO Lip-Bu Tan took over in 2009, the electronic company’s stock has gone up by 400%.
100 Best Companies rank: 34
Every Intuit (INTU) employee is eligible for some kind of equity grant, whether it be stock option or restricted stock units. Those in vice president positions or higher receive non-qualified stock options upon being hired, while those in lower positions are offered RSUs. Either way, the equity grant vests over a period of three years. The information technology company also offers an employee stock purchase plan. Workers have the option to contribute between up to 15% of their eligible pay to purchase stock at a discount of at least 15%, and option that more than two-thirds of employees choose to take advantage of.
100 Best Companies rank: 92
Fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom (JWN) was founded in 1901, employs nearly 70,000 people worldwide, and has 333 U.S. locations—soon to be 334 as it gears up to open a second Manhattan department store. The company offers stock options as part of its Total Rewards program. Eligible leaders are granted stock awards each year, which are generally split evenly between non-qualified stock options and RSUs. While stock awards are granted to only the highest performing salespeople, other Nordstrom workers can take part in the company’s employee stock purchase plan.
9. Whole Foods Market
100 Best Companies rank: 75
Every employee at Whole Foods Market (WFM) is eligible for stock option grants after working their first 6,000 hours, which works out to about three years of full-time employment. A worker’s level of employment determines which options he or she is eligible for. Team members receive service hour stock options, employees in certain leadership positions receive leadership stock, and board members and executive officers receive RSUs. The organic food retailer tells Fortune that, since its 1992 inception, about 94% of its equity awards have been granted to team members rather than C-Suite employees.
10. FactSet Research Systems
100 Best Companies rank: 89
The financial services company based in Norwalk, Conn. has an employee stock purchase plan that provides its workers with a 15% discount. FactSet (FDS) offers the option on a quarterly basis, at which point employees can invest between 1% and 10% of their after-tax base pay. Though there are certain restrictions, such as annual limits and holding periods, employees can join the plan on their very first day, and over half of U.S. employees choose to participate. The company also offers an equity awards program with regular stock options, performance-based stock options, and RSUs. Every year between 20% and 25% of U.S. employees receive an equity grant, either as part of their compensation package or as performance recognition.
See the full list of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For at fortune.com/bestcompanies, where you can also find job searching tips, career advice, and secrets from recruiters on how to get hired.