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Workplace perks for every personality

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To keep employees engaged, Top Workplaces offer a variety of perks that range from traditional to offbeat. We’ve highlighted some of those offerings below, broken out by the kinds of workers they might appeal to most.

Many Top Workplaces seem to believe a well-fed employee is a productive employee. These companies are generous when it comes to meals and snacks.

  • Alexandria digital marketing firm Fishbowl gives its employees more meal options by offering a free lunchtime shuttle that takes them to restaurants on King Street.
  • CustomInk employees can grab a cold treat from the office’s frozen yogurt machine. The Fairfax-based online apparel design firm also offers a daily snack known as the “PM Pick-up” to keep workers energized.
  • At mobile technology and big data firm DMI, employees show off their cooking skills in the company’s annual Tech Chef competition.Teams of workers collaborate to make an appetizer, entree and dessert in a battle at the company’s Bethesda headquarters. Winners take home the grills the company purchases for the competition.
  • District-based NewBrandAnalytics held a gourmet chocolate and port tasting in its office led by one of the firm’s software developers.
  • In the summertime, architecture firm Gensler holds a monthly farmer’s market in its offices so employees can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Law firm Kelley Drye & Warren kicked off 2014 by helping employees get their caffeine fix: On the Monday after New Year’s Day, the company set up an espresso bar in its reception area and hired a barista to make custom beverages as a way to welcome everyone back from the holidays.
  • Many staff members at Share Our Strength participate in the nonprofit’s “Bakolution” program, in which workers make a resolution to try baking a new recipe every month.

In order to boost camaraderie and teamwork, many organizations offer events and excursions that allow employees to get to know each other away from conference rooms and cubicles.

  • Bank of Georgetown tries to inject a bit of fun into tax day with its annual “Beer Run.” Every April 15th, the company’s loan and business development officers hand deliver coolers of Heineken beer to all of the bank’s CPA clients.
  • Many Top Workplaces hold sports-centric social events. At Sapient‘s offices across the globe, employees participated in a “Fandemonium” party celebrating the Boston Red Sox. Over drinks and barbecue, employees watched a live stream of the team’s opening day at Fenway Park. Blue Canopy, a Reston IT firm, rewarded high-performing workers with a trip to Richmond International Raceway, where they got to take cars out for a spin on the NASCAR track.
  • Novavax has 46 teams in its company bowling league. The group is so large that the biotech firm rents out an entire bowling alley every Friday for a couple of hours. The company also picks up the lunch tab.
  • Got a competitive streak? Many companies add an element of friendly rivalry to social activities. Silver Spring-based architecture firm Torti Gallas and Partners holds an ugly sweater contest. At Aronson, employees have been known to face off in desk bingo or Chia Pet-growing competitions. At the Peterson Cos., employees held a “Punkin Chunkin” contest, in which they launched pumpkins out of a slingshot in the office parking lot.

Want to see the world? These companies have policies that might help you journey to faraway places, either while on the job or spending time with loved ones.

  • For those who want to travel as part of doing business, District-based firm Frontier Strategy Group offers employees regular opportunities to travel to the information services firm’s regional offices in Singapore, London and Miami. The company also tries to go somewhere exotic for its annual offsite meeting. This year’s event took place in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. At the online event management firm Cvent, all U.S. employees are eligible to spend six to eight weeks working out of the company’s office in India shadowing their Indian colleagues. They also get to stay in Cvent’s corporate apartment, where they’re treated to a maid, cook and driver.
  • Some local employers offer company getaways as a way to thank workers for a job well done. This winter, Definitive Logic took its employees and their guests to Jamaica. Edelman Financial Services paid for its entire staff and their families – a total of 1,000 people – to take a four-day trip to Walt Disney World in December. For employees who reach their profit targets, Choptank Transport offers them and their guests an all-expense paid trip.
  • Prefer to travel without colleagues in tow? At KEYW, your referral bonus might come in the form of a free trip to Key West, Fla. Kiplinger Washington Editors gives employees access to a company-owned resort in Florida after they’ve been with the company for a year.
  • The trip of a lifetime might require plenty of time off. WeddingWire and AOC Solutions offer unlimited vacation days to all of its workers. The companies don’t expect their staff members will be constantly jetting off; rather, they trust the employees will take off only the number of days that is appropriate for their workload.

Many employees – working parents, especially – find it challenging to juggle their personal commitments with professional responsibilities. These firms aim to help them strike that balance.

  • Child care can be expensive and challenging to coordinate. The Virginia Theological Seminary and United Therapeutics offer on-site child care. Law firm WilmerHale and communications company Powell Tate give employees access to a back-up child care program for days when their usual care plan falls through.
  • For workers who are caring for an aging family member, organizations such as District-based Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America offer back-up elder care.
  • Some employers give workers opportunities to take longer stints of time off to relax and replenish or to pursue a passion. Redfin and the World Resources Institute offer sabbatical programs.
  • Other companies aim to give employees extra flexibility as the weekend approaches. Access Intelligence, a Rockville-based information and marketing company, and Bethesda developer EYA close early every Friday. Cloud services company ARG encourages employees to work from home on Fridays.
  • New Editions Consulting invites employees to unwind on a “babymoon” when they or their partners are expecting. The company gives them up to $1,000 to spend on a getaway before the baby arrives.
  • To encourage people to get moving at the American Psychological Association, the organization has started an effort known as Stairwell Ambushes. The organization rewards random staff members who take the stairs instead of the elevator by giving them $100.
  • For employees who prefer an outdoor workout, Ashburn-based National Recreation and Park Association and George Mason University have outdoor walking trails.
  • For fans of multi-tasking, government contractor Aquilent offers desks equipped with treadmills so that employees can get work done while also incorporating movement into their day.
  • It has become increasingly common for employers to use challenges and team activities to get employers excited about wellness programs. Both Markon and the Army Distaff Foundation and Knollwood hold contests modeled after “The Biggest Loser” reality TV show. Employees of Alexandria-based Systems Planning and Analysis together have lost nearly two tons of weight by participating in a Weight Watchers at Work Program. The professional services firm held a “One Ton” celebration when workers hit 2,000 pounds of weight loss. They’re planning to hold a “Two Ton” party when they reach that milestone.

Companies have long known that generous pay and financial benefits can play an important role in retaining talent. Here are some ways they’re trying to boost employees’ bottom line.

  • For employees looking to develop a smart strategy for their investments, Comcast and the American Chemistry Council offer free financial planning assistance.
  • Looking to maximize your retirement savings? Several local employers make contributions to employees’ 401(k) plans, even if the employees don’t make any contributions of their own. The American Podiatric Medical Association contributes 6 percent of an employee’s salary; Brailsford & Dunlavey contributes 7.5 percent of workers’ gross wages; Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis contributes 9 percent of total compensation.
  • With health-care costs soaring, it can be helpful to have an employer who fully covers those expenses. Fairfax-based 3Pillar Global pays 100 percent of medical, dental and vision plans for employees and their dependents. Independent Project Analysis, an Ashburn consulting firm, fully covers premiums for its workers and their family members.
  • Many companies offer corporate discounts to help their workers save money. Southern Management Corp. gives its workers discounts of between 15 and 50 percent if they live in one of the property management firm’s apartment homes.
  • At Great American Restaurants, managing partners are eligible to receive $12,000 a year to put toward the purchase or leasing costs of BMW or Lexus all-wheel drive vehicles.

Click here to view the rankings

More coverage of Top Workplaces 2014: 

The No. 1 large company: JBG Cos.

The No. 1 midsize company: Applied Predictive Technologies

The No. 1 small company: Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis