Benefitfocus, a cloud-based benefits management platform and services provider, will give employees a chance to own a piece of the company with a new stock program benefit.

More than 1,400 full-time employees will receive a one-time restricted stock unit, currently valued at about $2,000, according to the Charleston-based company.

“Associates are more cognizant of how a benefit-focused company operates from a financial perspective,” says Jeff Oldham, senior vice president of Global and Institutional Markets at Benefitfocus. “Folks are now going to take greater responsibility because they are now a shareholder.”

The benefit takes three years to vest, with employees having the option to take out a third of the stock’s value after the first year. Employees will receive an additional share every three years — a tactic Oldham says will help with employee retention and engagement.

See also: Company stock loses its luster in 401(k) landscape

New hires will be eligible to receive the benefit as well, with Oldham noting that the program is not a one-time grant but a perpetual benefit.

The program, which launched on April 24, will cost about $3 million, Oldham says.

Stock option employee benefits have generally become less popular in the past five years, according to the Society of Human Resource Management’s 2017 Employee Benefits Report.

The most recent statistics available show that fewer companies are offering employee stock purchase plans, restricted, incentive and nonqualified stock options, and stock appreciation rights.

Eight percent of companies polled by SHRM offered restricted stock options like that of Benefitfocus’ program in 2017, down from 10% in 2013.

Benefitfocus’ one-time restricted stock unit offering is in addition to its standard benefits package, which offers medical, short-term disability and a 401(k) plan and match.

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