KEYW’s quarterly perks are aimed at retaining staffers

Company: KEYW.

Location: Hanover.

Employees: 1,000 locally; 1,112 nationwide.

With a staff full of cybersecurity professionals who possess highly coveted security clearances, Hanover-based KEYW has decided it has to get creative when it comes to retaining and rewarding its employees.

“Anybody can get good pay and good benefits in our business,” said Kim DeChello, the cybersecurity firm’s chief administrative officer.

So the company began a program last year in which it offers a quarterly perk for all employees, one that changes each go-around to keep things fresh.

The first offering was called “fun money,” and the premise was simple: Employees would receive $250 to put toward a leisure pursuit of their choice. Staffers simply had to send an e-mail to the human resources team explaining how they would like to spend the money, and then they received a gift certificate for that activity. DeChello said people used the money for cooking classes, tickets to a ballgame, skydiving lessons, and even to buy a television.

Paul Rosengarth, a system engineer, used his money to attend photography classes to advance his skills with composition and lighting.

By supporting the pursuit of his hobby, “They’re trying to give us the opportunity to be well-rounded,” he said.

The company tracked everyone’s “fun money” requests and sent them to their supervisors. The hope was that managers could use this information to bond with employees.

The most recent quarterly offering was “Family Day,” in which the company surprised employees by shipping a package to their home that contained a KEYW-themed version of the Monopoly board game.

It came with a note from chief executive Leonard E. Moodispaw that encouraged them to take a break from the grind and relax with family.

In the customized game, Park Place and the Boardwalk were replaced by squares for KEYW’s Hanover headquarters and its large Falls Church office. The traditional playing pieces were swapped with sunglasses, a sailboat and a palm tree, among other items, in keeping with the Key West theme that the company incorporates into its office design and decor.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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