Shareholders of Electronic Arts ( ERTS) have seen tough times of late, but they voted Thursday to make things better -- for employees. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, EA investors approved a company plan that will allow employees to exchange their underwater options for restricted shares of the company's stock. In a related measure, investors also approved a management plan to bump up the number of restricted shares it can hand out to insiders. The two measures drew support from 80.3% and 75.3% of the shareholder votes cast at the meeting, respectively. The option exchange plan follows the poor performance of EA's stock in recent years. Over the past 15 months, shares of EA have fallen 31%. Over that same time period, the Nasdaq Composite has been essentially flat, while shares of chief video-game software rival Activision ( ATVI) are off only 7%. Under the exchange program, employees of EA will be able to trade in options that carry exercise prices that are 25% or more above the company's market price for shares of restricted stock. The company plans to award one share of restricted stock for every three to four options that employees hand over. Stock options grant employees the right to purchase their company's stock at a pre-set price. Their intrinsic value is the difference between the market price of the stock and the pre-set price. In the case of EA, the company awarded millions of options when its stock was trading higher than it is now; because of the stock's slump, those options are underwater and have no intrinsic value. But that doesn't necessarily make them worthless. Because employee options typically don't expire for five, seven or even 10 years -- as is the case with those awarded by EA -- they still could potentially be cashed in at a later date.