Apple to reward retail workers with stock

Discussion
Oct 19, 2015

Under a new stock incentive program, Apple Inc. will allow all employees to be eligible for restricted stock units, including those at the store level.

The stock vests over time and is designed to retain employees for a longer period of time.

In a memo last week to employees uncovered by several tech websites, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, noted that all employees — including retail associates — have been able to acquire stock at a discount as part of its Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP).

In addition, some employees — "typically from our product areas" — as well as upper management have received restricted stock units "as an incentive to continue their important contributions to Apple." The new program makes everyone eligible for restricted stock grants and was particularly "designed to reach employees who were not previously eligible, including many in our amazing retail and AppleCare teams," referring to the company’s customer-service workers.

Apple Store associate

Photo: RetailWire

"This is an unusual step, and very special — just like our team," wrote Mr. Cook. "At Apple, our most important resource — our soul — is our people. Along with our many progressive benefit plans, this is another way for us to say thanks."

Sources at Apple Retail told 9to5Mac that restricted stock awards began being distributed to employees last week, with initial grants ranging from $1000 to $2000 worth of shares.

While many tech companies provide such stock grants to employees, it is rare for hourly employees. Starbucks offers restricted stock grants, called Bean Stock, to employees, including part-time baristas and other store workers, after they’ve worked a certain number of hours.

Ken Abosch, who leads Aon Hewitt’s broad-based compensation practice for North America, said some retailers provide shares to a select number of lower-wage workers, but few large companies provide that benefit to the majority of their front-line employees.

The move is expected to help Apple compete for employees as the labor market improves and other major retailers raise wages. Pay for retail workers is also expected to come under more scrutiny with income disparity becoming a hot-button issue this election season.

Do you see more pros than cons in offering restricted stock options to store associates? How will such stock incentives compete with the rising wages at other retailers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is a brilliant move sure to have a major impact on customer service, one of the most important levers for the Apple brand to retain the irrational loyalty so prevalent with their customers."
"Top retail execs have repeated the mantra that their people on the front lines are the most important human assets in the organization. By making a perk typically reserved for headquarters available to store-level personnel, Apple is demonstrating that it’s not just talk."
"Definitively more pros. I don’t believe it’s meant to compete with rising wages, rather it’s a company culture delivering on its promise."

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7 Comments on "Apple to reward retail workers with stock"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Tim gets it. Any company’s most important resource, and their soul, is their people. Those who would argue differently don’t get it and often try to ignore what to customers seems obvious.

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
6 years 7 months ago

100 percent pro. Publix has reaped the benefits of a similar incentive for years and it’s been hugely successful for them. This is a brilliant move sure to have a major impact on customer service, one of the most important levers for the Apple brand to retain the irrational loyalty so prevalent with their customers. I’m sure a leap of faith was involved and very much applaud the leadership that pushed it through.

Max Goldberg
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I only see pros. An important factor in Apple’s successful reputation is its stores. Consumers love having access to the Genius Bar and Apple store personnel are responsible for an increasing share of overall product sales. What better way to reward and retain them than offering stock? I hope other retailers will follow Apple’s lead.

George Anderson
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

For as long as I can remember, top retail execs have repeated the mantra that their people on the front lines are the most important human assets in the organization. By making a perk typically reserved for headquarters available to store-level personnel, Apple is demonstrating that it’s not just talk.

vic gallese
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Kudos to Tim Cook! Many more pros than cons. A great use of Apple’s cash glut.

If done correctly (remember unexpected consequences) this should ensure service at your local Apple store remains superior!

Go to a WinCo supermarket and see what level of energy and service you get. Amazing.

Kai Clarke
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

There are only great things to say about programs like this stock bonus program of Apple’s. It increases loyalty, worker satisfaction, workplace camaraderie, and of course employee retention. The only question here is what took Apple so long to recognize this?

Carlos Arámbula
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Definitively more pros. I don’t believe it’s meant to compete with rising wages, rather it’s a company culture delivering on its promise.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is a brilliant move sure to have a major impact on customer service, one of the most important levers for the Apple brand to retain the irrational loyalty so prevalent with their customers."
"Top retail execs have repeated the mantra that their people on the front lines are the most important human assets in the organization. By making a perk typically reserved for headquarters available to store-level personnel, Apple is demonstrating that it’s not just talk."
"Definitively more pros. I don’t believe it’s meant to compete with rising wages, rather it’s a company culture delivering on its promise."

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