These employers offer interesting work, great pay and benefits, chances to learn and grow, and a sane work/life balance. How does your job compare?
There is no association between this article and Great Place to Work Institute Inc., the company based in San Francisco. Great Place to Work® is the registered trademark of Great Place to Work Institute Inc.
What makes a place to work great?
If we were to choose one word: flexibility. As in letting employees telework and adjust their hours as needed—whether to spend less time sitting in traffic or to slip out for a child’s soccer game. That emphasis on work/life balance is one of the key things that this year’s 50 Great Places to Work share. Winning employers also offer challenging and meaningful work, opportunities to learn and grow, respect and support from management, and generous pay and benefits.
To put together our list, we first released an application that any organization could fill out, asking about such measures as health-care and vacation benefits, staff turnover, and charitable outreach. Then we surveyed a sampling of each applicant’s staff. The 7,500 employee surveys we received were largely what determined our 50 winners. After all, a company may offer amazing benefits on paper, but it’s not a great place to work if staffers aren’t happy there. Once all the survey data was in, it was analyzed by Leora Lawton of TechSociety Research in California, who also designed the survey. We compared like with like: small workplaces with other small workplaces, information-technology firms with other IT firms, and so on.
In all, nearly 200 companies participated, and the competition was tough—employers don’t go through the process if they don’t believe they’re a great place to work. Still, if a company isn’t listed here, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a great workplace—it could simply mean it chose not to apply.
What follows are snapshots of this year’s winning companies. Best of all—most are thriving and hiring.Back to Top
Work With Cool Technology
Many of our winners offer the chance to be exposed to cutting-edge tech or do challenging projects. Here are five.
Total staff: 87.
Cool work: Provides government and health-care clients with problem-solving software using open-source technologies.
Down-to-earth benefits: A 401(k) contribution equal to 15 percent of salary; $5,000 a year for conferences and training or $3,000 for a new computer; paid health-care premiums.
Total staff: 31.
Cool work: Staffers with top-secret clearances do IT work for clients in the defense and intelligence communities.
Down-to-earth benefits: 25 days of paid time off, cash bonuses for five-year ($5,000) and ten-year ($10,000) anniversaries, 401(k) contribution equal to 6 to 8 percent of salary, paid health-care premiums.
Total staff: 51.
Cool work: The company builds systems to help the intelligence community sort huge amounts of data to combat terrorism.
Down-to-earth benefits: 401(k) contribution equal to 10 percent of salary and bonus; gym and cell-phone reimbursements; $2,000 every two years for a new laptop, phone, or other technology; paid health-care premiums and no deductibles; $5,000 training reimbursement, which includes conference travel expenses.
Total staff: 787.
Cool work: The science, engineering, and IT staffs at this government contractor, which collaborates with agencies including NASA, might perform cosmological studies to learn more about the birth of the universe or examine weather changes shaping the Earth.
Down-to-earth benefits: A casual environment that’s also positive and professional; leadership that’s accessible and treats everyone with respect; quarterly gatherings where employees are recognized and rewarded for good work.
Total staff: 18.
Cool work: The company’s NEON Location Service is used by first responders, defense officials, and others who need to map and track personnel operating indoors, underground, or in other situations where GPS doesn’t work.
Down-to-earth benefits: Fully paid health-care premiums, stock options, biweekly catered lunches, and a foosball table that sparks lunchtime competition.
Going to the Dogs
Three winning firms that are pet-friendly
Total staff: 42.
Employees not only do cool work—the company’s audio and radio communications technology goes into simulators that help train soldiers and pilots—but they can do it alongside their dogs, which are welcome in the office every day.
Other doggone-good benefits: Generous PTO (20 to 35 days); unlimited sick leave; paid health-care premiums; a retirement-plan contribution equal to 7 to 9 percent of salary; free use of a ski house in West Virginia; free Amazon Prime and Costco memberships; and a $1,000 gift certificate to the Inn at Little Washington for a ten-year work anniversary.
Total staff: 832.
You’ve probably heard the name: Carfax is known for its vehicle-history reports on used cars. The company tries to pay attention to the whole person—with, for example, coverage of acupuncture, chiropractic care, and fertility treatments. Allowing dogs—which, studies have shown, lower stress—fits right in.
Other doggone-good benefits: Up to six weeks of PTO plus a week off at Christmas; free lunch every Friday with raffles or games for prizes; an indoor “park” with a swing and a coffee bar; and a work-hard/play-hard office that has a putting green, basketball, and a shufflepuck table.
Total staff: 32.
This communications and marketing firm that specializes in energy and transportation—whose clients include Nissan and the Department of Energy—fosters a fun team vibe. Besides pumpkin-carving contests, Margarita Day celebrations, group walks, and TED Talk lunches, it hosts a bring-your-dog-to-work day every few months.
Other doggone-good benefits: Unlimited vacation; up to $500 in an HRA plan to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Some of the happiest staff in our survey are at workplaces that have fewer than 20 employees. These five winners are companies where everyone knows your name—and everyone has a voice.
Total staff: 13.
A small staff doesn’t mean small benefits at this insurance agency. All employees get unlimited vacation, free membership to Life Time fitness, generous pay, and free dinner when they work late. Little wonder there was zero turnover last year and the average tenure is about seven years.
Total staff: 13.
Barry Glassman, who owns this financial-advisory firm, shares the wealth: His staff enjoys unlimited vacation, paid health-care premiums, free lunch on Fridays (plus free lunch for a week when they sign a new client), early closing in summer, cold brew on tap, an office Peloton bike, paid honeymoons, and the most sizable new-employee referral bonus we’ve seen—$50,000 paid over five years, as long as both employees stay.
Total staff: 19.
Employees at this women-led communications and public-affairs agency say they feel like a family—some take yoga and Orangetheory Fitness classes together, and all of them bond during Friday Fun Times over cold-brew coffee or beer, both on tap. There’s incentive to come together as a team: They get bonuses—last year’s was worth 20 percent of base pay—when the company reaches its yearly revenue goal.
Total staff: 18.
When you’re a firm offering management advice to federal agencies, it’s a good idea to have your own management in order. This company’s employees have nothing but praise for their bosses. Young staffers appreciate that they’re given responsibility and opportunities to grow that they probably wouldn’t get at a larger firm. Also nice: paid health-care premiums, four weeks of PTO, and $100 a month to cover a cell phone.
Total staff: 11.
Through its research and advocacy, this nonprofit supports programs that give young women more opportunities for economic security. At the same time, it supports its own staff of 11 with paid health-care premiums, a 401(k) contribution equal to 5 percent of salary, half-day Fridays in summer, and paid sabbaticals.
Many great places to work pay attention to staff wellness—and as these winners show, many address whole health
Total staff: 460 (12 in DC).
Healthy benefits: “Workout Wednesdays” allow staff at this San Francisco–based public-relations agency to take up to two hours during the day for wellness. There are also monthly fitness challenges (planking, push-ups), unlimited vacation, and paid four-week sabbaticals after five years.
Total staff: 50.
Healthy benefits: At this wealth-management firm, employees get free gym memberships; quarterly massages and spa days; healthy snacks; and sit/stand desks. Other perks that lower stress: five Fridays off in summer that don’t count toward PTO (already a generous 21 to 32 days); early-release days during the holiday season to avoid Tysons traffic; a 401(k) contribution of 7.15 percent of salary, plus 2.3 percent to a cash-balance plan; and a percentage of the firm’s gross revenue.
Total staff: 153.
Healthy benefits: At this mobile-platform firm—which allows businesses to build custom apps that eliminate paperwork—employees enjoy free massages every two weeks; free yoga five times a month; a gym; a running club; meditation; free healthy snacks and subsidized healthy lunches; walking meetings; unlimited vacation; and pet insurance. Other perks that lower stress: extra “holidays” off, including Earth Day and Steve Jobs’s birthday; team outings such as casino nights and Cirque du Soleil.
Total staff: 340.
Healthy benefits: This 25-year-old company, whose products offer in-vesting advice, invests in its staff, too, with nutrition consultations; subsidized Weight Watchers; a fitness center offering personal training and daily classes; treadmill and bike desks; a nap room; meditation; yoga three times a week; subsidized on-site massages and mani-pedis; semiannual animal therapy; unlimited vacation; and sabbaticals.
Have a Great Work/Life Balance
More than almost any other measure, job flexibility—the ability to telework or set your own schedule—makes employees very happy. Here are six places with good scores for flexibility.
Reston and Northwest DC
Total staff: 7,400 (160 in Washington).
How flexible is it? Employers this large aren’t often noted for flexibility, but the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based company—it has built the world’s largest cloud delivery platform—offers unlimited vacation, telecommuting, and flex schedules.
Other perks: Subsidized backup child care, adoption reimbursement, $500 annual wellness allowance, $20 a month for bike commuters, and 16 hours of paid volunteer time.
Total staff: 80.
How flexible is it? Everyone at this management consulting firm sets his or her own schedule and can telework.
Other perks: Profit-sharing; 20 days of PTO to start; monthly social events including a company ski trip; and a renovated office with beer on tap, espresso, and a karaoke machine.
Total staff: 67.
How flexible is it? At this consulting firm—which helps clients such as the US Postal Service implement talent-management technology—staffers not only can work remotely if needed but can live anywhere. While about 20 people work out of Bethesda, the rest live in 25 other states.
Other perks: Profit-sharing ranging from 5 to 20 percent of an employee’s salary, paid health-care premiums, $200 a month for phone and internet, $140 a month for commuting, the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, and twice-a-year staff gatherings in destinations such as Vail and Miami.
Total staff: 130.
How flexible is it? At this three-year-old startup that offers technology to real-estate agents, everyone is trusted with unlimited vacation and work-from-home options.
Other perks: Catered lunch every day, along with a kitchen stocked with breakfast fare and snacks; a young, high-energy, fast-paced environment with opportunities to learn and grow.
Total staff: 62.
How flexible is it? At this libertarian and right-of-center-leaning think tank, staff get unlimited PTO (and are encouraged to use it, including two weeks in August); they also can work from wherever they need to (and might join a meeting via a screen on a mobile robot).
Other perks: $1,200 a year for wellness, $3,000 a year for student-loan repayment, $400 a year toward a new phone, and $40 a month toward cell service.
Total Staff: 230.
How flexible is it? Almost all employees at this IT company work from home at least one or two days a week—some of them do so every day.
Other perks: Stock options.
Other winners with high scores for flexibility: Asymmetrik, Capitol Benefits, Glassman Wealth Group, Glen Echo Group, Insignia Federal Solutions, MassMutual Greater Washington, New Editions Consulting, Stratacomm, Studio Bleu Dance Center, Tiber Solutions, TRX Systems, and Washington Area Women’s Foundation.
Good Pay? Check!
Money matters, of course—it’s a top reason why people like their jobs. Here are four winners where employees are especially happy with how much they earn.
Total staff: 109.
How they earn it: This IT firm specializes in biometrics and identity-management technology for clients such as the FBI and the State Department.
Perks besides money: Free salad lunch three times a week, an electric fireplace in the kitchen, annual employee-appreciation week, and a big emphasis on giving back through company volunteer efforts.
Total staff: 61.
How they earn it: Selling insurance.
Perks besides money: Great flexibility, a supportive culture and boss, bonus-es, and incentive trips to destinations such as Greece and Italy.
Total staff: 70.
How they earn it: Software and engineering that revolves around data-sharing for defense, intelligence, and homeland-security agencies.
Perks besides money: Profit-sharing contribution of 10 percent of salary to each 401(k), paid health-care premiums, $10,000 referral bonus ($40,000 after three successful referrals), 40 hours allotted for training annually, $600 wellness allowance, new computer every two years, $600 ISP/cell allowance, and up to seven weeks of PTO.
Total staff: 13.
How they earn it: Data warehousing and analytics for government and commercial clients.
Perks besides money: Fully paid health-care premiums plus “Tiber Training” every other month to catch up on new technologies. Also, because it’s a virtual office, employees can work at home when not on a client site.
Other winners that scored well for compensation: Bellwether Education Partners, Capitol Benefits, Data Works, Glassman Wealth Services, Glen Echo Group, Northern Virginia Orthodontics, REDLattice, R Street Institute, Stratacomm, Studio Bleu Dance Center, and Washington Area Women’s Foundation.
Making a Difference
Many places offer work that impacts the greater good. Here are five.
Total staff: 58.
How they make a difference: This nonprofit aims to shake up public education and improve student outcomes.
More to feel good about: Flexibility to work wherever and whenever; paid sabbaticals.
Total staff: 265.
How they make a difference: This nonprofit offers training to help at-risk youth, veterans, displaced workers, and others find jobs in construction.
More to feel good about: 401(a) contribution equal to 8 percent of salary, paid long-term-care insurance.
Total staff: 134.
How they make a difference: PhDs at this nonprofit use applied behavioral science to improve the performance of those working in education, government, and private companies.
More to feel good about: Free parking or $125 a month for Metro, 30 days of PTO after nine years.
Total staff: 62.
How they make a difference: This government contractor’s projects address issues employees seem passionate about, such as aging, disability, and housing. Plus, it gives each staffer $500 for a nonprofit of his or her choice.
More to feel good about: Paid “babymoons” for first-time parents.
Total staff: 53.
How they make a difference: First, by straightening teeth, giving people reason to smile. Second, through community outreach that’s raised more than $1 million for local charities.
More to feel good about: One free Starbucks drink a day—and discounts on teeth whitening; shopping sprees and other rewards for hitting quarterly goals.
Not Just Another Government Contractor
The Washington region is crawling with companies that offer information technology, engineering, program management, and other services to the federal government—often for defense and intelligence agencies. Here are a few winning ones.
Total staff: 101.
How they rise above: Employees say that the work is interesting and challenging and that the company’s leaders are always supportive and appreciative, whether providing work/life balance or spot bonuses.
Total staff: 274.
How they rise above: Employee benefits include a $1,000 bonus for buying a home or $500 for a new apartment lease; parking subsidies; use of Nationals season tickets; and end-of-year bonuses for all.
Total staff: 350.
How they rise above: Every hour of overtime is paid, in either cash or extra leave. Employees also praise the work/life balance.
Total staff: 165.
How they rise above: With perks that include a contribution to each 401(k) equal to 15 percent of salary, paid health-care premiums, a stock-rights plan, and a holiday party at the Kennedy Center.
Total staff: 150.
How they rise above: Supportive bosses give employees the flexibility and autonomy to do their jobs and grow; perks include end-of-year bonuses and holiday parties at sites such as a Caps game.
Total staff: 20.
How they rise above: With benefits that include unlimited vacation; paid health-care premiums and an HSA account to fund out-of-pocket expenses; $10,000 employee-referral bonuses; a biannual allowance for new technology ($1,500) and annual allowances for fitness ($300) and entertainment such as sporting events and concert or play tickets ($200); free Uber and Lyft rides.
Total staff: 950.
How they rise above: With nice benefits such as a contribution of up to 4 percent of an employee’s salary into a 401(k), plus 100-percent match up to 6 percent; $5,000 reimbursement for adoption or surrogacy; cold brew for those at headquarters; frequent social gatherings.
Total staff: 57.
How they rise above: By offering unlimited vacation, paid health-care premiums, a 401(k) match of 7 percent of salary, profit-sharing, and a work-hard/play-hard office that has beer taps, a wine fridge, an espresso machine, and a Peloton bike.
Total staff: 4,498 (362 in Tysons).
How they rise above: With flexible schedules and telecommuting, depending on the client, plus free espresso and nitro brew, kombucha and beer on tap, free lunch every Monday and free breakfast every Friday, and a lot of free snacks, including guacamole and chips, wasabi peas, chocolate-covered pretzels, and ice-cream bars in the summer.
Other 2019 Great Places to Work that do government work include Advanced Stimulation Technology, Asymmetrik, Cobec Consulting, DataSync Technologies, Data Works, InCadence Strategic Solutions, Management Strategies, ManTech International, New Editions Consulting, Science Systems and Applications, Sequoia Holdings, Tiber Solutions, and TRX Systems.
Nine more great places to work that hold special appeal
Great Workplace for Veterans: ManTech International
Total staff: 8,250.
At this IT firm that works with defense, intelligence, and federal civilian agencies, almost 50 percent are military veterans—some 47 percent of hires in 2018 were vets. Says one employee: “As retired military, seeing the work directly support the men and women still on the active lines is very satisfying—this company really tries to deliver capability that helps war-fighters.” The firm celebrates the birthday of each branch of the Armed Services with cake.
Great for Architects: //3877
Total staff: 26.
In a high-ceilinged office with a view of the Potomac River, this architecture firm has designed a place where people love to work. Two times a week, colleagues go on runs or walks together. Twice a month, fueled by office beer and wine, “Do Cool Sh!t” gatherings bring them together to talk about an employee-chosen topic. Other nice perks include unlimited vacation; free dinner and ride home when working late.
Great for Dancers: Studio Bleu Dance Center
Total staff: 52.
The dance, voice, and other instructors here have more than one reason to dance at work. The largely female staff says they’re treated so well that Studio Bleu feels like a family. (One colleague who is also a hairstylist will even do their hair for free.) Benefits that keep everyone light on their toes include great flexibility, unlimited vacation, and frequent free meals.
Great If You’re LGBTQ: Vox Media
Total staff: 859.
The revenues and growth of digital media companies aren’t always assured these days, and Vox—home to Eater, Curbed, SB Nation, and other brands—is no exception. Yet one thing is clear: The company has made a concerted effort to be all-inclusive, with diversity and inclusion groups, gender-neutral bathrooms, and other benefits that earned it 95 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index. Other perks: unlimited vacation and a stocked kitchen that includes free avocados and La Croix.
Great If You’re a Lawyer: Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis
Total staff: 83.
Law firms aren’t always known for providing work/life balance, but HWG does—thanks in part to requiring no billable hours and offering unlimited vacation. Staffers say they feel like family, and everyone eats lunch together at one table. Other nice benefits: paid health-care premiums and a 401(k) contribution of up to 9 percent of salary.
Great If You Like Building Things: Rand Construction Corporation
Total staff: 238.
At this commercial general contractor, staff is given not only the opportunity to create cool spaces—clients include Amazon, the Washington Post, and the restaurant Del Mar—but to learn, grow, and build their own futures. Two-thirds of senior management started at entry level, and promotions are awarded three times a year. Other perks: free lunch on Mondays, free breakfast on Fridays, a Kegerator, nitro cold brew, and a Caribbean cruise for field staff after ten years of service.
Great If You Love T-Shirts: Custom Ink
Total staff: 1,634.
Need personalized shirts for your office 5K team? Custom koozies for a bachelor party? Custom-ers use Custom Ink’s website for made-to-order apparel and accessories. In what “Inkers” describe as a fun, supportive environment, there’s free lunch on Thursdays, an occasional snack cart, cold brew, and events such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, surprise massages, and cornhole tournaments.
Great If You Want a Second Family: Insurance Marketing Center
Total staff: 20.
Employees at many of our Great Places to Work say their colleagues feel like family, but this wholesale insurance distributor—it works with brokers—had an especially high score for “family feel.” Staffers get together for an annual Thanksgiving potluck, a holiday party, and outings such as a Potomac River cruise.
Great If You Like Giving Back: RBC Wealth Management
Total staff: 88,000 (140 in DC).
While the stock market may have its ups and downs, the people managing money at this Minneapolis-based firm are about as steady as they come—the average tenure in the DC office is an astounding 17.8 years. One thing that keeps people there: As an office, they give back frequently to the community. Employees can get involved in charitable events every month, and they tend to raise more than $300,000 annually for local charities.
This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Washingtonian.