All three of them are forms of equity compensation where employees receive benefits in the form of equity/stocks/shares/increase in shares. Though we’ll explore all of them in detail, the short answer is that with RSUs employees receive a specific number of company stocks as a grant, with ESOPs employees receive options where they can exercise their right to have company equity, and SARs provide employees with the right to receive the increase in the company's stock value between the grant date and exercise date.
Now let’s explore all three of them in detail.
Restricted Stock Units (RSUs): A restricted stock unit is a type of employee remuneration in which the employee receives company shares that must be vested over time. RSUs provide employees a stake in the company but no cash value until the stock vests. When RSUs vest, they are given a fair market value. Once they've vested, they're considered income, and a portion of the shares is withheld to pay taxes. The remaining shares are given to the employee, who can sell them at their leisure.
Advantages Of RSUs:
Employees are rewarded with RSUs if they stay with a company for a long time and help it effectively, resulting in a rise in the value of their shares. If an employee decides to keep their shares until they have received their full vested allocation and the company's stock rises in value, the employee receives the capital gain less the value of the shares withheld for income taxes and the amount owed in capital gains taxes. Because there are no physical shares to maintain and record, employers' administrative expenditures are low. RSUs also allow a company to postpone issuing shares until the vesting schedule is completed, which helps to reduce dilution.
Disadvantages Of RSUs::
As because no actual shares are allocated, RSUs do not offer dividends. 6 However, an employer may pay dividend equivalents, which can be deposited in an escrow account to assist in offsetting taxes or reinvesting in the form of new stock purchases.
For tax purposes, restricted stock is recognized when the shares become transferable.
Employee stock ownership plan (ESOP): An ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) is a type of employee benefit plan that gives employees a share of the company's ownership. Employee stock ownership plans come in the form of direct stock, profit-sharing plans, or bonuses, and the employer has sole discretion over who is eligible to participate. Employee stock ownership plans, on the other hand, are simply options that can be purchased at a set price before the exercise date. The Companies Norms establish the rules and restrictions that firms must follow when awarding Employee Stock Ownership Plans to their employees.
Advantages Of ESOPs:
Employee stock ownership programs are frequently used by companies to attract and retain high-quality employees. Stocks are generally distributed in stages by organizations. For example, a corporation might give its employees shares at the end of the fiscal year as an incentive to stay with the company and get the award. Companies that provide ESOPs have long-term goals in mind. Companies want to keep their employees for a long time, but they also want to turn them into shareholders. The majority of IT firms have frightening turnover rates, and ESOPs may be able to assist them in reducing such high attrition. Stocks are offered by start-ups to recruit talent. Frequently, such organizations are cash-strapped and unable to pay competitive salaries.
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Disadvantages Of ESOPs:
If a company lacks the personnel to properly implement the ESOP, it may face problems and potential violations. Following the establishment of the ESOPs, the company needs adequate administration, which includes third-party administration, trustee, valuation, and legal expenditures. The owners and management of the company must be aware of the continuing costs. The ESOP scheme isn't a good fit for such a corporation if the cash flow committed to ESOPs limits the funds available for long-term reinvestment in the business. ESOPs should be avoided by enterprises that require significant extra money to continue operating.
Stock Appreciation Rights (SARs): Employees and independent contractors might be given stock appreciation rights (SARs), which are a sort of compensation. A SAR permits you to receive the growth in value of a company's stock over a predetermined period of time if you are an employee or contractor. We can do so by cashing out your SAR or exchanging it for stock.
Advantages of Stock Appreciation Rights:
- It's a way to motivate staff without sacrificing equity.
- It serves as a company's retention strategy to ensure that employees stay with the company for a long time.
- It has a lower level of compliance than employee stock purchase programs or employee stock option plans.
- In comparison to other solutions, this scheme offers more flexibility.
Disadvantages of Stock Appreciation Rights:
- When an employee purchases this option/stock, there is no cash injection.
- The board of directors and shareholders must both approve this choice.
- The company requires capital to finance SARs that are being used by employees, which could cause liquidity concerns for the company.
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