It's a common event in an economy with record low unemployment: A key worker says she's bolting to a higher-paying job. Should you offer a raise--or nothing more than adios? In last year's Robert Half International Inc. survey of 1,400 CFOs, 42% said their companies refrain from counteroffers, while 56% said they make them under certain conditions. Which way is best? It depends, says Shari Carter, of Oakland (Calif.) compensation firm CompAnalysis. First, make sure your employees aren't chronically underpaid. (WageWeb.com and JobSmart.org post salary rates.) Then think about what they really want. If it's career growth or responsibility--which a lot of small companies can't offer--it might be best to say so long. "They'll be gone in a few months anyway," says Carter.

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