Not every employee wants the same benefits package. Instead of medical or life insurance, some employees, especially those who are covered elsewhere, prefer cash.

So Judi Jaskiel, founder and CEO of JasTech Inc., a $6-million Cleveland computer-services business, gives her employees a choice between two compensation programs -- a complete set of benefits and a salary; or a cafeteria plan, from which they can choose benefits, share the cost with the company, and receive a premium rate of about $28 an hour, about 30% higher than what salaried people get.

Once a year everyone gets the opportunity to reconsider. "If we only offered one of the options," Jaskiel notes, "I don't think we'd be as attractive to new employees. And we'd probably lose some of the people we have."