Compensation is not the cut-and-dry subject it used to be. Once you had to worry only about an employee's base salary or, at most, a base salary and commission. Today, you need to think in terms of compensation packages - including salaries, stock options, employee stock ownership plans, pay-for-performance plans, bonuses, profit sharing, commissions, noncash rewards, variable pay, and much more.

Attribute it to what you will - the Silicon Valley effect, a boom economy, unparalleled competition for skilled workers, the increasing value of IPOs and stock options - but there's no question that compensation has become a more complicated and strategic issue for employers. To recruit, retain, and motivate the best employees, you need to understand compensation and reward plans and how they relate to your company's growth.

We'll help you get a handle on everything from settling on a compensation strategy to creating a variable pay plan with this collection of checklists, benchmarks, and advice from

Compensation as Motivation

Paying for Performance
Bonuses are back. Be sure to get the most for your money.
The Power of Base Pay
A compensation expert explains how to improve your compensation strategy by developing an effective, market-driven base pay system.
Pay for Performance -- and Nothing Else
Employment relationships are transactional by nature. Today's transactions are fast moving, short-term and fully exposed, as free agents negotiate with managers for project and contract work.

Compensation Strategy

Recruiting Top Talent, One by One
This CEO tweaked her company's compensation package over time to attract key managers.
Wage Wars
An employee who makes $35,000 a year may be happy as a clam with his compensation until he learns that Frank in the cube next door makes $40,000. Three rules for handling the delicate subject of employee salary information.
Shifting Workplace Values Alter Pay Strategies
Incentive compensation is becoming the norm, and salary increases seem to pattern economic performance.
Kill the Commissions
The case for dropping individual commissions.
The Right Way to Pay
After decades of paying employees in the same old way, cutting-edge CEOs are solving their worst compensation problems by adding one critical factor: risk.

Employee Ownership

The Ultimate Employee Buy-in
Sell the company to your employees? It's a great idea--both for you and for the business you're leaving behind.
Granting Options Like It's 1999
New rules do little to dampen private companies' use of stock options.
Retiring Minds
In today's tough market, selling stock to employees may be the smartest path to an exit strategy.
CEO's Notebook: Stock Options & Equity
Tips and resources on offering stock options, sharing equity, teaching employees about their stock, and discouraging them from selling stock to start their own businesses.
ESOPs or Stock Options: Which Will Work for Your Company?
If you're contemplating this frequently asked question, here are some definitions, scenarios, pros and cons, and words of wisdom.
When Employees Share Stock Pain, Not Gain
Sure, stock options are a great recruiting tool, but are you prepared to deal with employee reaction if your company's stock price takes a dive?
Know Your Options
Deciding which stock option program is best for your business can be tricky. What you need to know when structuring an employee stock ownership plan.
Motherhood, Apple Pie & Stock Options
Although stock options are widely used to attract quality employees, they can have negative effects if employees misunderstand them or they're issued irresponsibly

Sizing Up Your Salaries

Are You Paying Yourself Enough?
You're getting by on a paltry salary because that's what's best for your company. Or is it? An owner's low pay can send the wrong message -- to investors and employees. Here's how to pick the magic number. Plus: What other CEOs take home.
Are You Cheating Your Employees?
Litigation from wage-and-hour disputes is skyrocketing. And you may be breaking the law without even knowing it.
Four sites to turn to when you want to benchmark your salary structure.
The Unkindest Cut of All
How one company's founders have gone about cutting their own pay to help their business stay afloat.
What's Hot: Sales Compensation
A guide to books and Web sites devoted to helping you design a compensation plan for your sales staff.
The Executive Pay Game, 1999
Here are some executive salary and bonus ranges against which to benchmark your company's salaries.
Board Pay: Five Hot Trends
The way boards pay their members is changing as fast as the duties they perform
What's Fair Pay for Your CEO?
Pondering just how much to compensate your CEO? Find out how to come up with realistic benchmarks for executive pay.
Executive Compensation May Need a Boost
One study indicates that executive pay hasn't kept pace with other compensation.