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Start Their Engines Offering inventive incentives can have a big impact on your bottom line.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

After Megan Driscoll co-founded PharmaLogics Recruiting, she occasionally rewarded salespeople with $100 bonuses or gift cards. "It never seemed to motivate anybody," she says. In 2006, the nine-person Braintree, Massachusetts, recruiting firm began a new program: Every six months, the top salesperson gets a $25,000 all-expenses-paid week's vacation for six at a luxury villa in Costa Rica. "It was very well-received," says Driscoll, 32. "We've seen people dramatically change the way they work because they want to win this."

Extravagant bonuses, perks and benefits do a lot to attract, motivate and retain employees at smaller companies that can't compete with bigger employers' financial compensation, says Chris Widdess, president of Signature Days, which sells incentive experiences. "Giving an employee an experience they've always dreamed of is not only motivating and inspiring, but it also allows them to recharge their batteries and come back with a can-do attitude," says Widdess.

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