The purpose of stock options is to give the employees a stake in the success of the company. If the company does well and is acquired or goes public, then they can exercise their options and get rewarded.
So, if your company is looking forward to either of those possibilities, then you can still grant stock options. You can also skip the option part and just issue stock (taxable to the employees, but not much tax if the stock isn't worth much). You can also create Stock Appreciation Rights -- basically, if the value of the company increases, they get the right to what they would have had if the stock had increased, but don't get other rights as stockholders.
If the company isn't thinking of either of those, then you probably don't want to give your employees stock, since there would never be any market for it and you don't have to worry about having minority stockholders. Instead, look at cash-based awards. What sort of awards? A profit-sharing plan or a bonus plan tied to a certain level of earnings would be good examples.