Magazine article Working Mother

Perks That Work

Magazine article Working Mother

Perks That Work

Article excerpt

Early one morning last year, Lisa Andersen, a mom of four and recruitment team leader at OpTech LLC, snuck off with several colleagues for a very atypical meeting. Instead of heading to a conference room to discuss a project, they gathered at a local spa to get pampered. Where was CEO Ronia Kruse during her staff's day of facials? Right by their side-it was her idea!

Like Ronia, CEOs at our other winning small companies place a premium on putting employees first. That's why they've conjured up creative ways to keep their staffers happy. Many of the perks sound extravagant for a small company (think on-site trainer), but some of the highest-impact extras actually don't cost much. The payoff, in terms of a loyal and productive staff, is, as they say, priceless. It was no surprise to us that in the latest Job Satisfaction Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, benefits and work/life balance were among the five most important factors in job satisfaction. In both areas, our 25 winning companies are hitting the mark with innovative perks. Here's a look at some of our favorites.

UPSIDE OF DOWNTIME

OpTech LLC

As the CEO of a technology consulting firm, Ronia Kruse knows how hard it is for women to make time forthemselvesso she makes the time for them. Once a year, she takes the female staffers from her Detroit headquarters to a spa, where they spend a day getting massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. The company's final bill? About $1500. 'The cost is minor, because these perks build loyalty and motivation," Ronia says. But thaf s not the only advantage to working at OpTech: The nine HQ staffers also get something most workers can only dream about: unlimited paid vacation days. Ronia believes in rewarding employees' performance rather than the number of hours they work, so staffers are allowed to take as many days off as they like. Most of them end up takingfour weeks or more off each year. "My employees perform well andare very professional and respectful of the policies," Ronia explains. "Many companies don't care about their employees, but I've created a different attitude at mine."

GIRLS' NIGHT OUT Sellier Design Inc.

Remember regularly going out with the girls, throwing back a few drinks and laughing so hard your stomach hurt? Wouldn't it be wonderful if those girl-bonding nights were a job requirement? At Sellier Design, CEO Kriston Sellier schedules monthly cocktails and dinners for her female employees-her way of thanking them for their hard work. "All the women plan around these dates," she says. "My husband even chipped in once and babysat some of the children so their moms could attend." During their trips to Mexican cafés, wine bars and other Atlanta hot spots, the coworkers have been known to check out their competitors' design work on menus and promotional pieces. But the talk is all fun. "We tell embarrassing stories about ourselves and chat about our families and children," Kriston explains. "We learn so much about each other-there's always a lot of laughter." The gatherings cost the firm about $2,400 annually, but it's worth it, she emphasizes: "We all look forward to them." As for the two men in the company? "Oh, they prefer that we do our girl talk away from the office."

LET'S GET PHYSICAL

Quality Assist Inc.

Just in time for that afternoon crash-when most of us are scouring the office for a piece of chocolate or making a latte run to stay awake-the employees at this Atlanta educational consulting and coaching firm are indulging in a much healthier energy booster. …

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