Consulting firm rewards employees with vacations

Company: Booz Allen Hamilton.

L ocation: McLean.

Number of employees: 25,000.

Melanie Pontier was seven months pregnant when she and her husband flew to Rivieria Maya, Mexico, for a four-day vacation paid for by her employer.

“It was one last hurrah before parenthood took over,” said Pontier, a marketing and communications associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.

The McLean-based consulting firm rewards exceptional employees with a fully-paid trip for two — and two extra vacation days — as part of its “Values in Practice” award.

Employees are nominated by their peers based on how well they reflect the company’s values, which include client services, teamwork and fairness. The nominations are then reviewed by a team of senior executives that makes the final decision.

Last year, 168 of the company’s 25,000 employees were awarded vacations.

“We don’t sell a product, we sell people’s’ expertise,” said James Fisher, senior manager of media relations at Booz Allen. “Our employees are all we have, so we want to make sure we reward them.”

Winners can choose between a four-day cruise to the Bahamas or the Carribean, or a vacation that inclues round-trip airfare, hotel accomodations and a rental car for three nights anywhere in the United States, Mexico, Hawaii or the Caribbean.

Pontier, who had gotten seasick during a cruise in high school, chose the latter. She had never been to Mexico, and wanted to go somewhere warm.

Plus, she said, “the resort was all-inclusive. For a seven-month pregnant woman, having an all-you-can-eat deal was amazing.”

Pontier and her husband spent four days snorkeling, going on historical excursions and reading on the beach.

“This award really celebrates you,” Pontier said. “If I had gotten a monetary bonus, it would’ve gone toward my bills or a car payment. Instead, I got to take some time to relax.”

“It was,” she added, “one of the highlights of my career.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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