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At Cassaday, early release days help workers beat holiday shopping traffic

Cassaday & Co.

Location: McLean.

Employees: 26.

From Cassaday & Co.’s 11th floor office in Tysons Corner, employees can look down and get a good view of the traffic congestion on International Drive that will snarl their commute home. And when the holiday season hits and swarms of shoppers are descending on Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria, that congestion turns to full-on gridlock.

“I’ve heard horror stories that it can take 45 minutes to get out of the garage,” said Kara Mauceri, the company’s marketing manager.

In order to make it easier for staffers to get home earlier at this busy time of year, the wealth management firm began an early release day program in 2006. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, workers are divided into two groups. Each group gets to leave at 4:00 every other day in order to beat the traffic. And employees can swap days among themselves if there’s a scheduling conflict.

“It gives them time to get home, pick their kids up, get to the grocery, whatever,” said chief executive Stephan Cassaday.

For Carmen Bississo, director of advanced strategies, the schedule has helped her make time to pick up her nephew from school, run errands and cook dinner.

“It just helps us manage our time better during the holiday. I feel like we’re more productive during the day” knowing an early departure is possible, Bississo said.

Bississo also said the policy has been useful when bad weather is expected, since leaving before a winter storm hits can result in a safer and shorter commute.

Cassaday said the early release days are part of a broader company culture that places great value on work-life balance.

“Having employees feel loved is probably the single most important determinate of successful firms,” Cassaday said. “If employees are happy and love where they work, clients in turn see it, feel it.”

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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