(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is paying a small number of engineers another round of special stock bonuses as part of an unusual push to retain key talent, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

The iPhone maker doled out the bonuses in recent days to a select group of employees in its software and hardware engineering departments, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the move isn’t public. The rewards ranged from around $100,000 to upwards of $200,000 in restricted stock units, with some in the company referring to them as special retention grants. 

The bonuses are designed to keep the employees from leaving by vesting over several years, and they could become more valuable over time if Apple’s stock price continues to rise. The shares are up more than 40% over the past 12 months, though they’re down slightly in 2022 -- part of a broader pullback for tech stocks.

Apple previously gave out special stock-based bonuses in December, with the rewards topping $180,000. In that case, the payouts went to employees in the company’s hardware technologies group, which designs its custom chips, and its team working on future virtual and augmented reality headsets. But it’s been rare in the past for Apple to rely on such rewards.

The company has suffered some attrition in its chip design group, and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. has stepped up recruiting of engineers -- aiming to put them to work on the so-called metaverse. 

The number of employees receiving the special grants this cycle is smaller than in December, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said. A spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple declined to comment. 

Some engineers were informed of their bonuses by senior executives in their respective divisions. Over the past few weeks, the company has also been giving typical annual bonuses and compensation adjustments ahead of its April 15 vesting date. Employee stock vests twice annually, in April and October.

Inflation also has put pressure on employers to boost compensation. And Apple is preparing for a return to the office -- a source of tension for some employees. By May, the company will require engineers and other corporate staff to work out of the office at least three days a week.

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