Deflation may be forcing you to keep raises in check this year, but there are ways to score points with employees without putting anything extra in their pay envelopes. Now, for example, may be a good time to start explaining what the company provides in the way of benefits, as well as how much it pays for them. Most companies do an atrocious job on both counts, with the result that employees don't know, or appreciate, what they're getting.

As it turns out, there's a fairly simple solution to the problem: give each employee a customized booklet that spells it all out in plain English. Sound expensive? It doesn't have to be. One company, BenePlus Inc., in Philadelphia, will produce such booklets for as little as $14.50 apiece, depending on the number of employees involved. Each booklet includes the employee's salary; the benefits' overall value, both in dollars and as a percentage of salary; and a breakdown of those benefits, with clear explanations and figures showing how much each one is worth.