I read on https://fairmark.com/compensation-stock-options/employee-stock-purchase-plans/overview-of-employee-stock-purchase-plans-espps/ (mirror) in the context of employee stock purchase plans (ESPP) in the United States:
A qualified ESPP can offer stock options that are similar to incentive stock options, but few companies set them up that way. Instead, they offer an opportunity to buy stock at a favorable price through payroll deduction. In a sense you’re exercising an option if you choose to participate, but it isn’t quite the same as holding a stock option. The specifics of these plans vary from one company to the next.
Why don't companies systematically offer ESPPs that offer stock options (instead of stocks)? ESPP offering stock options seem financially beneficial to the employees.