Stock Grants Vs. Stock Options

Stock options are very different from stock grants.

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Stock grants and stock options are tools employers use to reward and motivate their employees. Real differences exist between the two options, with benefits and downsides to each. Managing stocks, whether they are options or granted stock, is an important part of any person's investment strategy and should be handled with care.

Stock Options

Stock options work by a company granting its employees a certain number of stock options at a set price, time-limited; the employee can purchase a set amount of stocks at a set price within a specified time frame. Generally, the amount the employees pay is less than the current market price. This gives the employees a bonus in the amount equal to the difference between the market value of the stock and the price they paid.

Stock Grants

Stock grants are designed to keep employees working for the company for a set period of time. For example, a company might grant a new employee 100 shares of stock vested over two years. This means that the employee will retain the stock only after two years of working there. If he leaves prior to vesting, he loses his stock in the company. This can be a powerful motivator in employee retention.

Stock Option Advantages

Stock options can bring greater value to the employee. For example, if an employee has an option to buy a stock at $6 per share and the stock rises sharply, the employee can purchase more stock for the option price, increasing his profit. Stock options are also more flexible, because, unlike grants, they frequently have an early exercise option, so an employee intending to leave the company can exercise his options before the end of the vesting period and garner some of the benefit without having to stay at the company.

Stock Grants Advantages

Stock grants have the benefit of being equitable property; that is, they have some intrinsic value. During times of stock market volatility, stock options can be valued less than the employee cost, making them worthless. Stock grants always retain at least some value because the employee did not purchase them outright. Additionally, some employees are not aware that they must take action to receive stock using a stock options, and they fail to exercise their options as a result. Stock grants remove that mishap by granting the stock to the employee outright.