Is there an aspect of your business that you could turn into an inexpensive employee benefit? Orval Madden, CEO of Hot Topic, a $44 million chain of music-related apparel and accessories stores based in Pomona, Calif., reimburses employees for tickets to rock concerts. The business tie-in? For Hot Topic, the shows provide important market research. To qualify for the reimbursement, employees must return with a report on the fashions that the band and the fans were wearing and with other merchandising ideas.

Why not let employees share in perks you provide to your clients? Rick Born, CEO of Born Information Services, a $36 million information technology consulting firm headquartered in Minneapolis, already was paying to entertain customers at a skybox at a local arena. Now Born splits use of the skybox between clients and employees.

This article was adapted from material that first appeared in Inc. magazine in November 1997.