Keeping a Lid on Layoffs

Evidence is mounting that greater use of flexible pay is giving companies an alternative to job cuts

The use of flexible pay soared during the 1990s. Companies compensated employees with bonuses and stock options. That enabled them to share the good times with workers -- while preserving their ability to slash costs in bad times by rolling back the special pay. David Lewin, a business professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, estimates that 66% of U.S. workers got variable pay last year, up from 30% a decade earlier.

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