Many companies offer "referral bonuses" to employees for recommending job candidates who ultimately join the company.But some companies have discovered ways to get more value from the referral bonuses they pay.

Brett Brewster, CEO of Mitec Controls, a company that sells, services, and inspects fire alarm systems, wants to be sure thathis 93 employees are thinking long-term when they refer prospects. So Brewster spreads out the bonus payments. Theemployee gets half of the bonus after the referral has worked at Mitec for 90 days and the rest when the referred employeepasses the six-month mark. To further encourage accountability, Brewster, whose Norcross, Ga., company had 1998revenues of $6.5 million, requires that employees spend time orienting the new hires they refer.

In another referral bonus twist, Kris Zaepfel, director of human resources for Exchange Applications, an informationtechnology company in Boston, has set up a tiered referral program that gives employees more money for more valuablereferrals. Zaepfel offers a $3,000 bonus for most positions, but she will pay $5,000 for "hot jobs" that she needs to fill withparticular urgency.