Apple offers all employees restricted stock program, hoping to retain talent

Apple is offering all of its employees restricted stock, making it clear that the technology giant is a fierce competitor in the Silicon Valley talent wars.

The decision by Cupertino-based Apple was outlined in a letter by CEO Tim Cook to all of the company’s employees.

“This year, I’m excited to let you know that the executive team has created a new program for stock ownership through restricted stock unit grants,” Cook wrote in the letter. “It’s designed to reach employees who were not previously eligible, including many in our amazing retail and AppleCare teams.”

A restricted stock unit, also known as an RSU, is issued to employees at the fair market value of the company’s stock. When RSUs vest, they are considered income, and a portion of the shares usually are withheld to pay income tax. The employee receives the remaining shares and can then sell them at any time.

“This is an unusual step, and very special — just like our team,” Cook wrote in the letter.

Typically, a publicly held program extends an RSU program primarily to top executives or other top-level employees the employer wants to target for retention. Its existence can also be a recruitment tool.

“This new program extends eligibility to everyone not covered by other RSU programs, effectively making everyone who works at Apple eligible for an RSU grant,” Cook wrote.

An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the Cook letter had been circulated and she verified Cook was the author.

It’s not surprising that Apple wants to be seen as  employee-friendly. The company lately has been grabbing land and offices, both through sales and leases, in Sunnyvale, north San Jose and Santa Clara, part of a shopping binge to fuel future expansion. Plus, it huge new headquarters complex in Cupertino is under construction.

Apple has undertaken these efforts amid a hiring boom in Silicon Valley’s tech sector.

Over the 12 months that ended in August, Santa County added 29,425 technology jobs, according to this site’s analysis of information supplied by Beacon Economics. During the same time period, Santa Clara County added 54,700 payroll jobs of from all industry groups. That means technology jobs accounted for 54 percent of all the jobs added in the South Bay.

The tech sector is growing much more rapidly in Santa Clara County than the total job market. Over the year that ended in August, technology employment in the region grew by 9.1 percent, while total employment in the region grew 5.4 percent.

“At Apple, our most important resource — our soul — is our people,” Cook wrote. “Along with our many progressive benefit plans, this is another way for us to say thanks.”

Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook (Associated Press)


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