Microsoft enhances employee benefits

Microsoft Corp. has given employees who may have thought about jumping ship a reason to stay. The software giant has rewarded some executives and software engineers with a broad new range of incentives, including additional stock-option grants, unlimited vacation for top executives and promotions for 30 managers to vice-president, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed.

Some employees will receive as many as 200,000 shares of stock. “It shows that Microsoft is committed to offering the best compensation packages to its employees,” said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Howard Rubin, a research fellow at Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the enhanced perks would help Microsoft compete against Internet start-ups that can offer stock options to employees before the company goes public. Although working for Microsoft may not have the same cash payoff as a company that hasn’t had its initial public offering, the new benefits should help the firm compete for people by addressing quality-of-life issues that dot-com companies are hard-pressed to meet, Rubin said. “Maybe their population is aging a bit. The 20-year olds in 1980 are now 40.”

“Microsoft is thought of as a place to hone your skills,” said Kazim Isfahani, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Norwalk, Conn. The lure of promotions and additional stock options will give Microsoft employees more reasons to stay, other than remaining at the company to pad their r