The Impact of RSUs on Executive Contribution to Company Growth

The Impact of RSUs on Executive Contribution to Company Growth

August 30, 2023

The Impact of RSUs on Executive Contribution to Company Growth

Remember when Elon Musk was granted billions in Tesla stock options contingent on performance milestones? Though not RSUs, the concept is similar: give executives a stake in the game, and they'll be motivated to score. This isn't just for industry titans like Musk; businesses of all sizes can employ similar strategies. 

That's where Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) come in. If you're wondering how to keep your top-tier executives engaged, committed, and motivated for the long run, then RSUs may be the answer you're looking for. In this article, you will explore how RSU plans could be the game-changer you need to propel your company's growth through your executives’ significant contributions.

Why Reward Executives with RSUs?

In a competitive marketplace where top talent is constantly wooed by other opportunities, you may find yourself asking: "How can I retain my best leaders?" It's a legitimate concern. You've invested resources in scouting, hiring, and onboarding your executive team. It only makes sense to keep them incentivized and focused on your organization's long-term goals.

✔ Fosters a Sense of Ownership

When you grant RSUs to your executives, you're not just providing them with extra income; you're giving them an ownership stake in your company. This fosters a sense of belonging and pride that salary alone cannot achieve. When executives feel like owners, they are more invested in making decisions that positively impact the company's bottom line.

✔ Talent Retention

The modern work environment is more fluid than ever, with executives often looking out for the next big opportunity. RSUs act as golden handcuffs, encouraging your leaders to stay with the company through the vesting period. This can save your organization the time and resources it would take to recruit and train new executives, thereby providing stability and continuity.

✔ Aligns with Corporate Strategy

Compensation isn't just about rewards; it's a strategic tool. Offering RSUs allows you to steer the focus of your executives toward specific corporate objectives. Since RSUs vest over time, they inherently direct attention toward long-term goals, rather than short-term profits. This alignment with the company's broader mission ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction.

✔ Enhances Risk Management

Executives with RSUs have a personal stake in avoiding decisions that could devalue the company's stock. Since their financial well-being is tied to the company’s performance, they are likely to approach risks in a more balanced way, ensuring that each decision made is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.

Benefits of RSUs For Executives

As a startup founder or company owner, you might be wrestling with the idea of how best to compensate your executives. Traditional perks like high salaries, bonuses, and benefits are par for the course, but let's face it—they're not always enough to keep your A-players fully engaged. This is where the power of RSUs comes in. Here are the unique advantages that RSUs offer to your executives.

1. Tax Efficiency

High salaries and cash bonuses can be tax liabilities for your executives. When you award RSUs, the tax burden is deferred until the shares vest. This tax-deferral mechanism can be attractive to your executives, as it gives them greater control over their financial planning. Your leadership can capitalize on this by timing the vesting with their individual tax strategies.

2. Direct Link to Performance

RSUs can be designed to vest upon achieving specific performance milestones. As a founder, this gives you the freedom to tailor compensation to the exact KPIs that matter most to your company's growth. When your executives see their compensation directly tied to their performance and the company’s success, you're effectively turning every project, every task, into an opportunity for them to grow their personal wealth.

3. Long-Term Wealth Creation

Stock options are speculative; they become valuable only if your company's share price rises above the strike price. RSUs, on the other hand, have intrinsic value from the get-go. This means your executives don't have to wait and hope for the stock to perform well; they own a piece of the company that has value. As your company grows, so does the worth of its RSUs, turning them into a powerful tool for long-term wealth creation.

4. Portfolio Diversification

By offering RSUs, you're giving your executives an asset that they can integrate into their broader financial portfolios. Having a diverse portfolio is key to financial health, and the addition of RSUs allows for greater financial stability for your executives. The more financially secure they feel, the more they can focus on driving results for your company.

Understanding and communicating these benefits can help you craft an RSU package that not only attracts top talent but also keeps them invested in the company's long-term success. The upshot? RSUs could very well be the lever that elevates your company from a promising startup to a market leader.

How RSUs Motivate Executives to Contribute to Company's Success

So you've distributed RSUs among your key executives, and the paperwork is done. But what's next? As a founder or company owner, you need to recognize that RSUs aren't just another line item on a compensation package; they're a motivational tool. Here’s how RSUs push your executives to be the change-makers you need them to be.

Incentivizing High-Impact Decisions

Let's face it, the daily grind of an executive includes making tough choices that could swing the company's fortunes. When executives hold RSUs, the calculus of decision-making changes. They are more inclined to make high-impact, strategic decisions that boost company value, knowing that any increase in share price directly benefits them as well.

Encouraging Teamwork and Cohesion

RSUs don't just motivate individual performance; they can also foster a sense of teamwork among your executives. When everyone in the leadership team is a stakeholder, there's a collective push toward achieving the company’s goals. It becomes less about personal achievement and more about how they can work together to raise the stock value, benefiting everyone involved.

Fueling Innovation and Growth

In today's fast-paced business environment, standing still is the fastest route to irrelevance. Your executives need to be constantly innovating and exploring new growth avenues. RSUs provide the kind of long-term incentive that makes executives think beyond their daily tasks. They become committed to pioneering products, entering new markets, and implementing strategies that they believe will pay off in the long run.

Promoting Fiscal Responsibility

Owning a piece of the company transforms how executives view company resources. Wasteful spending or poorly planned initiatives don't just impact a faceless organization; they affect their own bottom line. This leads to a more judicious approach to financial management, which can only bode well for your company's profitability.

When used thoughtfully, RSUs can be more than just a component of executive compensation; they become a linchpin for driving the behaviors that will catapult your company into its next phase of growth. Distribute them wisely, and you'll find that RSUs aren’t just a cost—they’re an investment in your company's future.

Designing Effective RSU Plans for Executives

So, you're convinced that RSUs can help your company reach new heights. But how do you go about designing an RSU plan that maximizes its benefits? If you're a startup founder or company owner, crafting an effective RSU strategy isn’t just a financial exercise; it’s a strategic move to ensure you're hitting the right motivational buttons for your executives.

1. Understand Your Objectives

Before jumping into the nitty-gritty details, identify what you aim to achieve with the RSU plan. Are you looking to attract new talent, retain existing executives, or perhaps encourage a particular type of behavior like innovation or fiscal responsibility? Your objectives will shape how you structure the RSU offerings.

2. Choose the Right Vesting Schedule

The vesting schedule is critical in making your RSU plan effective. Commonly used schedules include graded or cliff vesting. Graded vesting allows RSUs to vest in smaller portions over time, while cliff vesting requires the employee to stay with the company for a specific period before any shares vest. The right choice here will depend on your objectives and the behaviors you want to encourage.

3. Incorporate Performance Milestones

To elevate the motivational aspect of RSUs, consider tying them to specific performance milestones. Whether it’s achieving a particular revenue target, launching a new product, or entering new markets, adding performance conditions can incentivize your executives to reach these goals quicker.

4. Clearly Communicate the Plan

The most well-crafted RSU plan will fall flat if it’s not communicated effectively. Transparency is crucial. Make sure your executives understand not just the "what" but also the "why" behind their RSU grants. This fosters a sense of shared purpose and makes them more likely to engage fully in achieving company goals.

5. Review and Revise

Don’t set and forget your RSU plan. The business environment is dynamic, and what worked a year ago might not be effective today. Make it a practice to review the impact of your RSU plan periodically and be prepared to make revisions as needed.

A well-designed RSU plan can be a strategic asset in your toolkit for fostering executive engagement and steering your company toward long-term success. Take the time to get it right, and you could set the stage for a more cohesive, motivated, and effective leadership team.

Measuring the Impact of RSU on Managers and Supervisors

You've taken the plunge and allocated RSUs as a part of your compensation strategy for executives. Now comes the next crucial step—how do you measure the effectiveness of this move? If you're a startup founder or a company owner, it's essential to have metrics in place to assess whether your RSU strategy is delivering the intended benefits.

Employee Retention Rates

Start by looking at your retention rates pre- and post-RSU implementation. Are you seeing a higher level of commitment among your managers and supervisors since they became equity stakeholders? Lower turnover rates at the executive level can mean reduced recruiting costs and greater internal stability, which are both advantageous for your company's long-term growth.

Performance Metrics

To measure the impact of RSUs on performance, consider key performance indicators or KPIs specific to your industry or business model. This could include anything from sales growth and market share to customer satisfaction scores. Compare these metrics from periods before and after the RSU awards to gauge any changes in performance.

Company Valuation

While the direct relationship between RSUs and company valuation can be hard to isolate, if your company’s value has increased significantly after granting RSUs, it may indicate a positive correlation. Executives, driven by their vested interest, might be making better long-term strategic decisions that contribute to increasing the company's worth.

Employee Surveys

Don't underestimate the power of qualitative data. Conduct confidential employee surveys among your managerial staff to gauge their attitudes and motivations since receiving RSUs. Are they more invested in the company's future? Do they feel a stronger sense of loyalty and ownership? Their candid responses can provide valuable insights into the motivational aspect of RSUs.


Another method to measure the impact of RSUs is to benchmark your company against competitors or industry standards. Are companies that offer RSUs generally performing better in terms of revenue, innovation, or employee satisfaction? Though external factors can influence these metrics, benchmarking can provide another layer of understanding to your analysis.

In sum, the effectiveness of RSUs should not be measured through financial outcomes alone. Analyze multiple dimensions—retention, performance, valuation, and employee sentiments—to get a comprehensive view. Periodically review these metrics and adjust your RSU plans as needed, ensuring they continue to serve your evolving business objectives effectively.

How Can Help Motivate Your Executives

You've got a business to run, and monitoring RSUs can be complex. This is where Upstock comes in. As one of the cutting-edge forerunners in equity plan management, the platform offers not just RSU onboarding and legal agreements processing functionalities but also a motivational dashboard. This feature can help executives track the value of their RSUs in real-time, providing an instant motivator. Imagine logging in every day to see the fruits of your labor growing before your eyes—it's like having a personal financial scoreboard that keeps executives engaged and committed.


Since you've built your company from the ground up, you must be deeply invested in its success. Hence, to make sure your executives share this commitment, consider rewarding them with RSUs. It's not just about giving them a stake in the company; it’s about making sure they are as vested in the company’s success as you are. Design your RSU plans thoughtfully, measure their impact rigorously, and consider platforms like to keep everyone aligned and motivated.

Want to see RSUs in action? Book a demo with Upstock today and discover why it’s a go-to equity management platform for startups and scaling businesses.

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