There are all sorts of ways to keep employees happy beyond just giving them a paycheck. Many companies subsidize health insurance, chip in for retirement and offer paid leave. But some look for more creative ways to reward employees. What follows is a sample.
PADDLING THE POTOMAC: Industry Dive sounds like it might be a supplier of scuba gear. Instead, it’s a media business providing in-depth coverage of industries such as food, biopharma and waste management. But for a brief period this year, the firm did take to the water: The company sponsored a riverboat cruise for employees on the Potomac.
GETTING SETTLED: Moving to a new city can be tough. That’s why Macedon Technologies offers new hires a month in a luxury hotel down the street from the office, completely on the company’s dime. Macedon Vice President Tim Kelly says the company’s mostly young recruits use the opportunity to relax and get to know one another.
DIGITAL DOCTORS: Companies such as software developer TCG are embracing telehealth programs, in which you can see a doctor remotely via Skype or phone for basic consultations. In some cases these programs can cut costs and give patients more options, letting them connect with specialists hundreds of miles away.
SUPPORTING TRANSITIONS: Gender-reassignment surgery can cost tens of thousands of dollars and often is not covered by insurance. To help out, Capital One, CustomInk and Ikea recently added coverage to their employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
HEALTHY COMPETITION: An explosion of “wellness programs” across corporate America gives health-minded employees financial incentives for healthful living. At Walker & Dunlop, employees who exemplify healthy lifestyles can be nominated for a $200 prize every quarter.
NOW HIRING : If you successfully refer someone for a job at Praxis Engineering Technologies, you could earn up to $10,000 in referral bonuses. The bonuses have become so integral to the firm’s recruiting strategy that 60 percent of employees originally came through referrals.
FINE WINE: At Herndon-based software firm Deltek, the holiday party involves a lot of wine. An annual “wine pull” event lets employees donate $5 and grab a bottle of wine worth $5 to $80.
COLLEGE PREP: With already-high tuition payments going up and up every year, some worry how they’ll ever afford to put their kids through college. To help out, American Gas Association chief executive Dave McCurdy personally funds a scholarship program for staff members’ children.
FINANCIAL STABILITY: Debt causes a lot of people a lot of stress. CustomInk added a “Core Financials” personal financial planning and management course to its wellness offerings. The company reports that the program has helped employees eliminate more than $250,000 of debt.
FREE INTERNET: The Consumer Technology Association advocates for some of the country’s biggest tech firms, so you can bet the latest digital accommodations are important to its employees. CTA employees get broadband reimbursements and the opportunity to telecommute from home one day each week.
FOR NEW DADS: BuckleySandler, Consumer Technology Association, Cvent, Dataprise and others explicitly offer paid paternity leave alongside traditional maternity benefits.
ANIMAL LOVERS: For pet enthusiasts who want a truly comprehensive benefits package, some companies will cover the health of pets under employer-sponsored insurance. Dataprise, Industry Dive, Iron Bow, NFM Lending and others offer pet insurance that covers medical care.
VACATION TIME: At Commonwealth Digital Office Solutions, taking time off is not only encouraged, it’s also modeled from the top. Chief executive Mike Sarelson spends a month every year fishing in Alaska, during which time he does not respond to any emails or phone calls. Employees are encouraged to take similar breaks.
LEGAL HELP: Some of the region’s best workplaces can help you deal with questions about the law: Whitman-Walker Health, NFM Lending and Markon Solutions have legal assistance programs.
FOR EMERGENCIES: CACI, CapTech and Kelley Drye provide critical-illness insurance as a way of ensuring employees are doubly protected in the event that something terrible happens. Such insurance policies make lump-sum payouts when employees are diagnosed with one of a predetermined list of critical illnesses.
CRAB PEOPLE: Stratus Solutions, Aronson, Crosby Marketing, and MIL — all Maryland businesses — hold or participate in annual crab feasts.
PARTY TIME: Almost every office has a holiday party, but some companies spice it up with prizes. Avendra’s end-of-year meeting includes a raffle with prizes contained in “mystery bags” that have included large-screen TVs, vacuum cleaners and a 10-gallon jar of mayonnaise.
SPREADING THE LOVE: Some of the best workplaces have profit-sharing programs that pay employees a portion of the firm’s profits. Arion Systems, BuckleySandler and Dev Technology Group all have employee profit-sharing programs.
STARTING A FAMILY: Many of the Washington region’s top workplaces look for ways to lighten the load on new parents. TCG offers employees $10,000 in adoption assistance, and new parents at Rand Construction get a $500 company gift card.
SAVING FOR RETIREMENT: As pension plans fall out of favor at companies, many have turned to 401(k) plans to help employees save for retirement. Some companies offer particularly generous contributions: ViON puts a share of its year-end profits into employees’ 401(k) plans, and the American Registry for Internet Numbers will match up to 9 percent of employees’ salaries in making 401(k) contributions.
Read more: The 150 Top Workplaces in 2017.