When Covid-19 closed most offices in March 2020, employers looked for ways to support their stuck-at-home staffs. Supervisors checked in regularly with employees. Companies sent Uber Eats gift cards and care packages. Employees got free subscriptions to the meditation apps Calm and Headspace.
Some employers have spared no expense or imagination, even as the pandemic drags on, coming up with extra-generous or extra-creative ways to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive.
More than 130 local companies shared with us the new pandemic-era policies and practices they’ve implemented in the wake of Covid. Here, some of our favorites—measures that might inspire (or make you envious).
1. $1,000 to every employee to enhance a home office. (Glassman Wealth Services, a 15-person financial-planning firm in Tysons)
2. A list of WFH items—worth $750 in all—that any employee can order, plus $75 a month for each worker’s home wi-fi. (GetUpside, a tech startup in DC with 204 employees)
3. A “work-from-home store” stocked with not just keyboards and desks but yoga mats, foam rollers, and, as a joke, a “friendly pet llama.” The company pays for it all. Sadly, the llama is “sold out.” (Motley Fool, Alexandria, which has 620 employees)
Passing Along the Savings
4. A monthly $300 “Covid-assistance bonus” that employees can use however they like. The money has come from funds that have gone unspent because the team is not all in the office drinking coffee, eating free lunches, or throwing office happy hours. (Improbable, a 47-person tech firm in Arlington)
5. Reduced its office space, then passed the savings onto 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. Purchased an $80 National Park pass for any interested employee, using money that had been set aside for a company picnic. Some employees later shared photos of themselves and their families hiking and camping. (New Editions Consulting, a 65-person government contractor in Falls Church)
More for Mental Health
7. Rolled out Ginger, a 24-7 emotional-support app that allows employees to text a behavioral-health coach and schedule a virtual counseling session. (DC’s Vox Media, which has more than 1,200 employees)
8. $100 a month per employee to spend on something relaxing—such as cooking instruction or a movie-streaming service— via a benefits platform called Fringe. The most popular offering? Kits containing succulents, ferns, and other plants. (19-person Rhythmic Technologies in Dulles)
9. Five extra “well-being days” to take off this year. (Global tech giant Microsoft Corporation, which has a Reston office)
10. Increased paid time off, first by giving every other Friday off, then by switching to unlimited vacation. (Silverback Strategies, a 65-person Alexandria digital-performance marketing agency)
11. Weekly meditation and yoga, plus periodic “mindfulness challenges” with options such as a ten-minute breathing exercise or paint therapy. A “gratitude challenge” created a “kindness matrix” for employees to achieve—whether buying a customer in line behind them a cup of coffee at a coffee shop or writing a note to someone special in their life. (IQ Solutions, a 179-person public-health communications firm in Rockville)
12. Unlimited paid mental-health sabbatical. (Advanced Simulation Technology, with 49 employees in Herndon)
Body as Well as Mind
13. A new $1,000 stipend that employees can put …….