Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced what it called its "most significant investment in overall compensation" for its employees in its history, as it jostles to keep talent from fleeing to rival technology companies like Facebook, Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
CEO Steve Ballmer announced the changes in an email sent to employees Thursday morning.
"The changes we're rolling out today will help ensure Microsoft continues to be the place that top talent comes to change the world," Ballmer said.
All of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's nearly 90,000 employees worldwide will see more cash upfront as compensation is shifted away from stock awards. As well, about 80 percent of workers will now receive 100 percent of their bonus and stock awards, up from about half of employees previously. Senior leaders will still have a large part of their compensation tied to shares.
The changes are biggest where the competition for talent has been fiercest — for early and mid-career research and development staff, mid-level employees in general, and for workers in hotspots like China and India.
The company also is streamlining its review process to do away with a commitment rating and contribution ranking in favor of a single performance rating based on a 1-5 system with compensation levels tied to each level.
A Microsoft spokesman declined to say how much the pay boost will cost, since the company is in a quiet period ahead of the release of its quarterly earnings next Thursday.
Microsoft shares fell 24 cents to close at $25.52.