Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and other big companies tend to hand out restricted stock units as rewards for their employees, and it’s no surprise that Apple’s employees have become quite rich over the years. Forbes contributor Chuck Jones did an analysis of the company’s RSU awards and employee headcount and discovered that Apple’s RSU awards have risen 286 percent over the last three years.

Apple Inc. AAPL

Apple’s RSUs by the numbers

He also discovered that Apple’s total employee headcount has risen 112 percent, while its non-store headcount has increased 71 percent. He notes that in Apple’s fiscal 2009 year, RSUs made up almost all of the stock compensation awarded to the company’s employees. During that year, there were 7.8 million RSUs awarded. In the following year, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) awarded 6.2 million RSUs, and in fiscal 2011, it awarded 7.8 million. In 2012, the company awarded 7.8 million RSUs.

When taking into account the average stock price for those restricted units, he says the value of the awards rose from $870 million in fiscal year 2009 to $3.4 billion in fiscal 2012. And Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) didn’t even have to increase the number of RSUs it awarded. The value of its stock just kept going higher and higher.

Jones said even when removing the 1 million units which were awarded to senior executives last year, the total for everyone else at the company still hits $2.9 billion.

Apple needs more cash to offset RSUs

Of course when the value of restricted stock units goes up, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) needs more cash to offset it. According to Jones’ calculations, the amount of cash the company needs to offset the units has risen 270 percent over three years.

He estimates that about 7 to 12 percent of those units will not vest because the employees leave before the vesting period is up. However, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will have to spend almost $3 billion just to offset the dilutive effect of the 2012 awards compared with the $800 million value from 2009.