When it come to recruiting and retaining people who are motivated to do well, some companies are getting creative -- really creative. Back in May, we told you about Zappos, an online shoe retailer that pays new trainees a thousand bucks to quit, the idea being that the people who turn down the cash in favor of a job really want to be there.

Today's Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) on another new trend: some employers let workers choose their salary. Those who opt for a higher salary have more limited bonus potential. The idea is to give workers a chance to have more skin game, while providing flexibility to those who need a more reliable stream of income.

One potential problem with this program -- and incentive-based pay in general -- is that earnings can fluctuate wildly based on broader economic conditions over which the individual worker has no control. Opting for a low base salary and higher potential bonus can amount to little more than a big bet on the future direction of the economy.

But that's a criticism of incentive-based pay in general, and one that can perhaps be mitigated by tying pay to relative performance -- an employee whose production falls 5% when the industry as a whole is off 10% should not be penalized. But giving workers greater control over how they are paid is a good idea, and one that should help companies recruit better people.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Banking Services 101

Understand your bank's services, and how to get the most from them

View Course »

How to Buy a Car

How to get the best deal and buy a car with confidence.

View Course »