When you need to attract and retain high-performing talent, money talks. But you knew that. 

Now, in light of labor shortages and continuing inflation, some companies are abandoning annual raises in favor of more frequent--quarterly or biannual--pay reviews, the Wall Street Journal reported. Businesses that have adopted these compensation practices say that they've helped to retain employees in particularly hard-to-fill technology and manufacturing roles. 

By no means are these off-cycle raises the norm, a survey released in January by the asset management firm Mercer shows: three out of four businesses haven't budgeted for more regular pay bumps. But if companies want to stay competitive in a tight labor market, they need to get more creative. Some have opted for unexpected benefits like grocery stipends and cars, but more commonly, companies are offering bonuses.

More than half of employers have increased the number of sign-on bonuses they've handed out in the past 12 months, and 49 percent have increased the number of retention bonuses, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Spot bonuses, or merit-based cash rewards offered for specific achievements, have also been increasing, and are now offered by 61 percent of companies interviewed in this survey. When frequent raises aren't in the budget, these one-off financial incentives may be the best option for companies looking to keep talent onboard.

Just be mindful of what kind of precedent that bonuses may establish for employees. If you're offering merit rewards now, be prepared to continue them in the future. "There's so much research that shows that if you add in some type of financial benefit to people, and then you take that away, it's far worse than ever adding it in the first place," Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky recently told Inc.com.