Check Out These Generous Perks That DC Area Businesses Are Offering To Their Employees During The Pandemic

When Covid-19 closed most offices in March 2020, employers looked for ways to support their staff stranded at home. Supervisors checked in with employees regularly. Companies sent Uber Eats gift cards and care packages. Employees got free subscriptions to the Calm and Headspace meditation apps.

Some employers have spared no expense or imagination, even as the pandemic continues, coming up with extra-generous or extra-creative ways to keep employees happy, engaged and productive.

Over 130 local businesses shared with us the new pandemic era policies and practices they implemented in the aftermath of Covid. Here are some of our favorites, actions that might inspire you (or make you envious).

Homework grants

1. $ 1,000 to each employee to improve a home office. (Glassman Wealth Services, a 15-person financial planning firm in Tysons)

2. A list of WFH items – with a total value of $ 750 – that any employee can order, plus $ 75 per month for each worker’s home Wi-Fi. (GetUpside, a tech startup in DC with 204 employees)

3. A “work-at-home store” filled with not only keyboards and desks, but also yoga mats, foam rollers, and, jokingly, a “pet friendly llama.” The company pays for everything. Unfortunately, the lama is “exhausted”. (Motley Fool, Alexandria, which has 620 employees)

Pass on savings

4. A monthly “Covid-assistance bonus” of $ 300 that employees can use as they see fit. The money comes from funds that haven’t been spent because the team isn’t all around the office drinking coffee, eating free lunches, or having happy hours in the office. (Improbable, a 47-person tech company in Arlington)

5. Reduced office space, then passed the savings on to employees in the form of bonuses, raises and a 7.5 percent profit sharing distribution to each employee’s 401 (k). (Black Cape, a 90-person technology services company in Arlington)

6. Purchase an $ 80 National Park pass for any interested employee, using the money that had been set aside for a corporate picnic. Some employees then shared photos of themselves and their families hiking and camping. (New Editions Consulting, a government contractor of 65 in Falls Church)

More for mental health

7. Deployment of Ginger, a 24/7 emotional support app that allows employees to text a behavioral health coach and schedule a virtual counseling session. (DC Vox Media, with over 1,200 employees)

8. $ 100 per month per employee to spend on something relaxing, like cooking classes or a movie streaming service, through a perks platform called Fringe. The most popular offer? Kits containing succulents, ferns and other plants. (19 people Rhythmic Technologies in Dulles)

9. Five additional “wellness days” to take off this year. (Global tech giant Microsoft Corporation, which has an office in Reston)

ten. Increase in paid leave, first by giving leave every other Friday, then by moving to unlimited vacations. (Silverback Strategies, a 65-person Alexandria digital performance marketing agency)

11. Weekly meditation and yoga, as well as periodic “mindfulness challenges” with options such as a ten minute breathing exercise or painting therapy. A ‘gratitude challenge’ has created a ‘kindness matrix’ for employees to achieve, whether it’s buying a customer in line behind them a cup of coffee in a cafe or writing a note. to someone special in their life. (IQ Solutions, a 179-person public health communications company in Rockville)

12. Unlimited paid sabbatical leave for mental health. (Advanced simulation technology, with 49 employees in Herndon)

Body and mind

13. A new $ 1,000 allowance that employees can spend on home fitness equipment, personal training, nutritional counseling, or other wellness expenses. (12 SOAR Management Consulting people in Fairfax)

14. A monthly Peloton subscription, the content of which can be used even without a Peloton bicycle or treadmill. This replaced the monthly gym allowance. (Silverback strategies)

15. A membership to TaskHuman, which allows employees to book free, unlimited one-on-one sessions with wellness coaches, including nutritionists, yoga teachers, and HIIT instructors. (OM Group, a government contractor of 78 people in Reston)

Community awareness

16. Reimburses employees for a weekly cafe purchase, both to boost morale and to support these small businesses. (Avalon Consulting Group, a 60-person marketing firm in Washington)

17. For several months last year, employees reimbursed their purchases at small local restaurants and cafes, up to $ 75 per week. A catch: for the tip to be reimbursed as well, it had to be at least 25%. (Rhythmic technologies)

18. Then there’s this awesome gesture: $ 1,000 given to every employee – over 60 in all – to spend at local small businesses last year. (New Editions Council)

Support for parents

19. Unlimited tutoring paid by the company for the children of employees during the 2020-2021 school year, including preparation for the SAT. (164 Apex mortgages in Rockville)

20. New laptops, during virtual learning, for the school-aged children of any team member. (62-person DC technology company teKnoluxion Consulting, which distributed 15 laptops)

21. Up to ten hours per week of additional paid leave for employees with children under 12 years old. (New Editions Council)

22. $ 10,000 a year for child and dependent care – double what it previously offered – for anyone earning less than $ 170,000. (Cassaday & Company, a 70-person wealth management company in Tysons)

23. Sent shirts to parents identifying employee children as “interns,” a way of embracing the reality that children roam in virtual meetings. (C3 Integrated Solutions, a 27-person IT vendor in Arlington)

Support for caregivers

24. Introduced a family care leave program providing five hours per week of paid leave to anyone who does not have enough paid time off and needs it due to increased caregiving responsibilities. (Systems and scientific applications of 950 people in Lanham)

25. Creation of paid “compassionate care leave”: anyone who needs to take time off or work flexible or reduced hours to act as a caregiver can do so at full pay, with no cap on the amount of leave. (Unlikely)

Covid relief

26. Pay to house an employee’s family in a hotel for two weeks if the staff member tests positive for Covid. (Microsoft)

27. Granted up to 12 weeks of Covid pay to any employee unable to work last year when customer sites were closed and remote work was not possible, so that person would not go without paychecks. (OM Group)

28. Paid 100 percent of wages, benefits, and bonuses for employees on secure government sites who could only work part-time when social distancing capabilities were in place. (Matrix council of 26 people from Reston)

Random act of kindness

29. Presented $ 250 grocery gift cards at the onset of the pandemic to its operations staff. Then, for seven months, offered some employees the choice of paid weekly housekeeping or meal delivery up to $ 135 per week. (Apex Home Loans)

As we head into winter – and virtual corporate events – here are some cool ideas beyond the usual Zoom happy hours, game nights, and virtual escape rooms.

Child’s play

While many companies have organized virtual cooking classes for their employees, IQ Solutions, a public health communications company in Rockville, recruited the children of team members for “IQ Kids in the Kitchen,” in which the kid chefs demonstrated how to make zucchini muffins and healthy snacks. like the apple ladles.

Build it, they will come

Why not actually build something in a team building session? That’s what Improbable, a tech company from Arlington, did in a terrarium making class. Everyone received the necessary supplies: planters, tools, succulents, soil, stones, moss. To this day, employees sometimes show off how their factories are doing in virtual meetings.

And the answer is. . .

Many employees have happily made connections around virtual games, some of which are new. For a quiz at Advanced Simulation Technology in Herndon, staff members provided two facts about themselves in advance – their favorite book and movie – and colleagues had to match the facts and the people. Meanwhile, recruiting firm Tysons Turn2Partners has hosted virtual recreations of popular game shows such as Danger! and Family quarrel. Everyone wins: the company also pays for snacks.

Scary good time

Virtual pumpkin carving contests are cool, but when Halloween took place last year, IT company Reston Matrix Consulting hosted a virtual murder mystery party, with scripts, props, and costumes sent to each participant. .

Holiday Party

Many employers clearly think that employees’ hearts go through their stomachs: they’ve sent boxes of snacks, holiday pies, gift cards for Tuesday tacos, as well as cakes and champagne to celebrate important birthdays. . Then there’s FYI, a government contractor in Beltsville, who didn’t let Covid get in the way of his holiday party. He hired Occasions Caterers to deliver 65 four-course meals – think crab dip, boneless prime rib, apple and pecan pie – to employees. Cartoonists sketched in panel rooms, while prizes including an iPad, 50-inch TV and a workout mirror were awarded.

This article appears in the December 2021 issue of Washingtonian.


Sherri Dalphonse has joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of consumer topics such as travel, fitness, health, finance and beauty, as well as the editor who manages cover articles such as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington , Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors and Great Small Towns. She lives in Washington.

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