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A Reason to Stay

Incentives provide the "golden handcuffs" that keep employees from getting away.

Even if your company isn't quite Fortune 500 status, you can find creative ways to offer the so-called "golden handcuffs" that secure valued workers.

"[It's] basically an arrangement between a company and an employee regarding some type of incentive," says Ray Silverstein, president of the PRO-President's Resource Organization, a Chicago firm that creates and facilitates advisory boards for business owners, CEOs and company presidents. "[The incentive] hits the employee's hot button. It makes them want to stay and punishes them if they leave."

Lending an employee money for his or her child's education is one way to buy loyalty. If the employee stays for an allotted length of time, the loan is forgiven. If they leave, the loan is due and payable on demand. Other popular incentives: deferred compensation and phantom stock. (See August 1999's "Tax Talk.")

Golden handcuffs work only for employees who'll make a difference in the growth of your company, so zero in on incentives that will keep those people tied to your company's future.

Ellen Paris is a Washington, DC, writer and former Forbes magazine staff writer.

This story appears in the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »