Restricted Stock Unit RSU How It Works and Pros and Cons

What are Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)?

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a form of compensation that companies use to reward their employees. RSUs are typically offered as part of an employee’s overall compensation package and are often used as an alternative to traditional stock options.

Unlike stock options, which give employees the right to purchase company stock at a predetermined price, RSUs are actual shares of company stock that are granted to employees. However, these shares are subject to certain restrictions and conditions that must be met before they can be fully owned by the employee.

How do RSUs work?

When an employee is granted RSUs, they are given a specific number of shares of company stock. However, these shares are not immediately owned by the employee. Instead, they are subject to a vesting schedule, which is a predetermined period of time during which the employee must remain with the company in order to earn ownership of the shares.

Benefits of RSUs


Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a form of compensation that companies offer to their employees. They are a type of equity-based incentive that grants employees the right to receive shares of company stock at a future date. RSUs are often used as a way to attract and retain talented employees.

How RSUs are Granted

When a company grants RSUs to an employee, they are essentially promising to give the employee a certain number of shares of company stock in the future. However, unlike stock options, RSUs do not have an exercise price. Instead, the employee receives the shares of stock once certain vesting conditions are met.

Vesting is the process by which an employee becomes entitled to receive the RSUs. Typically, RSUs vest over a period of time, with a portion of the RSUs vesting each year. For example, if an employee is granted 100 RSUs with a four-year vesting schedule, they would receive 25 RSUs each year for four years.

What Happens When RSUs Vest

Benefits of RSUs

Considerations for Employees

Considerations for Employees

How RSUs Work and their Benefits

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a type of equity compensation that companies use to reward their employees. RSUs are typically granted as part of an employee’s compensation package and are subject to a vesting schedule. Here’s how RSUs work and the benefits they offer:

  1. Vesting Period: When an employee is granted RSUs, they are not immediately given ownership of the shares. Instead, RSUs have a vesting period, which is the amount of time an employee must wait before they can receive the shares. This is usually done to incentivize employees to stay with the company for a certain period of time.
  2. Vesting Schedule: The vesting schedule determines when an employee will receive their RSUs. It can be based on time (e.g., 25% vesting after one year, with the remaining 75% vesting over the next three years) or performance milestones (e.g., vesting based on achieving certain targets or goals).
  3. Tax Implications: RSUs are subject to taxation. When RSUs vest, they are considered taxable income. The value of the shares at the time of vesting is added to the employee’s income for that year and taxed accordingly. However, if the employee holds onto the shares, any future appreciation will be subject to capital gains tax.
  4. Benefits: RSUs offer several benefits to employees. Firstly, they provide an opportunity to own a stake in the company, which can be financially rewarding if the company performs well. Secondly, RSUs can serve as a retention tool, as employees are more likely to stay with a company if they have a vested interest in its success. Lastly, RSUs align the interests of employees and shareholders, as both parties benefit from the company’s growth.

Pros and Cons of Restricted Stock Units

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a popular form of equity compensation that companies use to attract and retain employees. While RSUs can be a valuable benefit, it is important to consider both the pros and cons before accepting them as part of your compensation package.

Pros of RSUs:

  • Ownership stake: RSUs give employees the opportunity to become partial owners of the company. This can create a sense of loyalty and motivation to contribute to the company’s success.
  • Tax advantages: RSUs are often subject to favorable tax treatment compared to other forms of equity compensation. They can be taxed at a lower rate and may qualify for capital gains treatment.
  • Deferred taxation: RSUs allow employees to defer the tax liability until the shares are vested and sold. This can provide flexibility in managing tax obligations.
  • Performance-based: RSUs are typically granted based on performance metrics, such as achieving certain targets or milestones. This can incentivize employees to perform at their best and contribute to the company’s growth.
  • Dividends and voting rights: In some cases, RSUs may come with the right to receive dividends and voting rights, providing additional benefits to employees.

Cons of RSUs:

  • Restricted access: RSUs are often subject to a vesting schedule, meaning employees must wait for a certain period of time before they can access the shares. This can limit liquidity and make it difficult to sell the shares when desired.
  • Market volatility: The value of RSUs is tied to the performance of the company’s stock, which can be volatile. This means that the value of the RSUs can fluctuate significantly, potentially resulting in a lower value than initially expected.
  • Tax implications: While RSUs can offer tax advantages, they can also create complex tax situations. Employees may need to consult with a tax professional to understand the implications and ensure compliance with tax laws.
  • Limited control: Unlike stock options, RSUs do not provide the ability to purchase shares at a discounted price. This means that employees do not have the same level of control over their equity compensation.
  • Forfeiture risk: If an employee leaves the company before the RSUs are vested, they may lose the opportunity to receive the shares. This can result in a loss of potential value.

Overall, RSUs can be a valuable form of compensation, providing employees with the opportunity to become owners of the company and potentially benefit from its success. However, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons and evaluate how RSUs fit into your overall financial and career goals.