I can remember my first year at my last company (let’s call it Fancy Fortune 100)) when bonus and raise time rolled around.  Management was so excited about the fact that they were handing out employee stock options as part of the compensation package.  Oh everyone rejoiced, you’ll make a lot of money on this, it’ll be worth tens of thousands of dollars. People buy cars and boats in cash with their option grants.  This week as I shredded the useless paper filled with the options that expired two years from my last day with the company due to layoffs I sarcastically muttered – wow what a load of crap.

I know I shouldn’t complain. During my years there I earned a good salary and did receive some cash bonus awards.  It’s not like I was part of the Dot Com bust where people literally were planning on stock options for survival (or at least justification for working 24/7/365).  It’s not like I worked for Enron and saw my my 401K vanish or invested with Madoff and lost my life savings. Yet the promise of a job well done sours as I fire up my shredder.

While top executives all over the place have gotten rich on zero-price stock options, worker-bees who have gotten options as compensation over time have played the waiting game of praying that some day the stock price might actually exceed the grant (or striking price) of the paper reward they received.  I know for me, over 8 years from when I received the first option, the grant price of the option is still $30-$50 over the price the stock has been valued at during the same time frame.  We’re not talking some speculative start-up either but a bona-fide Fortune 100 company that has been around a long time.

For top management this sort of compensation might make sense, but for the regular worker-bee which I was, I wondered then and still wonder just how valuable it is.  In that role you truly have a small impact on the company’s ability to please Wall Street and investors.

What has been your experience with stock options?  Worthwhile or a bum rap experience like mine?  Let me know in the comments…in the meantime I will continue with my shred-fest.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and business coaching for lesbians to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to have success on your own terms. Get the free eCourse “5 Steps to Turn Fear Into Freedom” at her website