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Perks

Employee newscasts, free lunch, and more top perks

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO FILM

An employee newsletter? That’s not enough for the Four Seasons.

In addition to receiving a quarterly mailing, Boston employees create a 10-minute newscast every two weeks about what they’ve been up to. “Experience News” airs on TVs in the back of the house, with a different department and guest employee anchor starring in each show. The executive chef hosted a bit about passing out frozen turkeys at the Greater Boston Food Bank; a doorman talked about visiting his native Haiti after the earthquake. A sales coordinator runs the camera, the public relations director writes the script, and the room service assistant manager edits the raw footage and gussies it up with music, B-roll shots, even amusing outtakes at the end.

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Employees not only find out more about one another through the newscast, they also get to show off their department’s accomplishments — and get a taste of celebrity at the same time.

Macall Newman, an assistant manager at the front desk, anchored a spot last spring about perks the five-star hotel gives its young guests, including shots of the hotel’s ice cream man wheeling a make-your-own-sundae cart to a guest’s room. Newman, 26, enjoyed her anchor duties, even though she had plenty of bloopers for the gag reel. “I’m much more comfortable standing in front of a guest,” she said.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Vistaprint treats employees like Rick Keilty to free lunch from food trucks every other Wednesday.

OUT TO LUNCH — AND IT’S OK BY THEM

Rick Keilty’s lunch is usually a “plain old bland turkey sandwich” from home, but the 26-year-old software engineer’s noontime cuisine got a lot more exciting earlier this year when a variety of gourmet food trucks started visiting the office. Two trucks come to Vistaprint in Lexington every other Wednesday, and the online marketing services provider springs for all the tacos, hot dogs, and Korean barbecue noodle bowls the employees can eat. Keilty’s favorite: the grilled cheese sandwich with guacamole and applewood bacon from Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese. “I find myself jumping in line more than a few times,” Keilty said. And he never, ever gets a plain old turkey sandwich.

Sixty-four ZeroTurnaround employees took a working vacation to Crete that included a cruise on a vessel decked out like a pirate ship.

A CHANGE OF BUSINESS CLIMATE

ZeroTurnaround,a tech firmthat creates tools to make Java software more productive, put its own productivity to the test recently when it sent its employees on a working vacation to Crete — a Greek island the company’s founders had always wanted to visit. Sixty-four employees from the firm’s offices in Estonia, Prague, and Boston spent a week in early September making sales calls and giving product demonstrations at a villa overlooking the Mediterranean — as well as playing tourist and taking a cruise on a vessel decked out like a pirate ship.

There were some complaints, though. “It’s kind of hard to work while you’re overlooking the Mediterranean, and you’ve got the breeze blowing through your hair,” said marketing director Jeremy Lopez. This was the second year the ZeroTurnaround crew was treated to an all-expense-paid trip to Crete, and if they reach their goals next year, they’ll have the Mediterranean breeze blowing through their hair again soon.

Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

A MEMORABLE ANNIVERSARY

Twenty-five is a magic numberat Christian Book Distributors in Peabody. Employees who have put in a quarter-century at the 33-year-old Christian catalog company get 25 extra vacation days, two plane tickets to any destination in the United States or the Caribbean, and a $2,500 bonus. Vice president Rick Brown, 52, used his time off to take his family to see the redwoods in California, Yellowstone National Park, and Mount Rushmore, and hang out with his daughter before she left for college. The only drawback: the 2,000 e-mails that piled up in his inbox while he was away. So far, 14 of the company’s 500 employees have hit the 25-year mark; in 2016, nine people will reach the milestone, but president and owner Ray Hendrickson isn’t worried about busting the budget. “I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Hendrickson, who is already trying to figure out what to do when the first employees hit 35 years.

Enterasys

A Halloween party at Enterasys Networks

A HALLOWEEN BASH

Employees at Enterasys Networks don’t just put out bowls of candy corn and slap on silly wigs for Halloween, they throw a full-on bash, with a haunted house, a pony and dogs in hula skirts, or last year, three floors of decorated trick-or-treat stations.

Each department at the Andover network security company competes for the best decorations and costumes, with many adopting a work-centered theme; the IT team once dressed as fire fighters and the quality assurance team has come as bugs. There’s a bean bag toss and pumpkin decorating, as well as pizza, cider donuts, and, of course, candy.

The afternoon party gives kids a chance to see where their parents work, but most of them are far more interested in the treats, said executive assistant Christine Mousseau. “They can see that mom works over here, and dad works over there,” she said, “But it’s yeah, yeah, yeah, where’s my candy?”

A SOOTHING RETREAT FROM DAILY STRESS

If the staff at Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. looks a little more relaxed on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, it’s probably because that’s when the masseuse visits the Lexington company. Cubist treats its employees to a free 15-minute massage every quarter (30 minutes during the quarter in which their birthday falls) by a massage therapist who has been kneading tense back and neck muscles at the company for a decade. Each session takes place, fully clothed, in a room equipped with a massage table and soothing music. Those who work offsite aren’t forgotten, either: They can expense a $60 massage each quarter.

Imprivita

Employees at Imprivita perform.

FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK, A SOLUTION

Plenty of companies have an employee softball team. Imprivata has a rock band. The marketing department at the Lexington software provider put the group together to play a company party last summer, with employees hailing from accounts payable to finance to engineering. The performance was such a hit that the band played another gig at the January saleskickoff at the Hard Rock Cafe at Foxwoods Resort Casino. The band, called OneSong Anywhere (a play on an Imprivata product called OneSign Anywhere), practices its covers of Maroon 5 and Oasis at night in the cafeteria and is gearing up for a show at the annual sales kickoff in January, a companywide meeting to lay out new products and strategies. The group even helped recruit a new employee. A cousin of an employee was filling in as lead guitarist, and it turned out he was a tech support guy in need of a job. “We ended up hiring him,” said Ed Gaudet, chief marketing officer and singer. “And he’s a phenomenal guitarist.”

Chris Mangan, Jane Lawless, and Tim Blasko in the garden.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Chris Mangan, Jane Lawless, and Tim Blasko in the garden.

CULTIVATING CAMARADERIE

Weeding, watering,and fertilizing are all part of a day’s work for a group of employees at the Massachusetts Medical Society in Waltham. The ballfield across the street from the publisher of The New England Journal of Medicine is home to 11 raised beds of organic tomatoes, eggplants, carrots, squash, and herbs — 176 square feet in all — built and supervised by the gardening company Green City Growers and funded by the medical society. The 30 employees who take turns tending the garden on their lunch breaks expect to harvest about 500 pounds of produce this year — half of which is donated to a local food pantry and half of which is divvied up among themselves. The project, spearheaded by business intelligence specialist Tim Blasko, has given the 29-year-old unexpected cachet with his fellow gardeners. “I’m like a rock star here with all the middle-aged women,” Blasko said.

Novartis chemist Natalie Dales in Shanghai.

THE WORLD IS THEIR OFFICE

Employees at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Researchn Cambridge can work their way around the world. The drug research company offers working sabbaticals at its campuses in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, China, Singapore, and Britain, as well as several around the United States. Chemist Natalie Dales went to Shanghai in 2010 . Dales took the train to work and immersed herself in the city’s culture. When Dales found herself going the wrong way in a taxi, she had plenty of people to call: “I had everybody on speed dial that I worked with.” When she came back to Cambridge, Dales found her experience improved her communication skills, leading her to seek out feedback instead of expecting people to speak up on their own.

Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

LEARNING ON THE COMPANY DIME

Getting a master’s or a PhD is no small feat for someone working full time, and the Mitre Corp. lightens the load by giving employees one paid day off a week to dedicate to graduate studies — as well as paying for their tuition and books. Curtis Watson is a wireless communications engineer at the nonprofit research and development government contractor in Bedford and is working toward his PhD in computer engineering at Northeastern University, an undertaking the 33-year-old father of two young children would not have been able to manage otherwise. The advanced degree will make Watson more credible, he said, especially with the firm’s military clients: “When you’re briefing generals and whatnot, it’s always nice to have ‘doctor’ in front of your name.”

WHERE GOOD DEEDS EARN GOODIES

Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

Bill Bogdanovich, chief executive of Broad Reach Healthcare, wanted to spice up the employee of the month program at the skilled nursing and assisted living facility in North Chatham. “We ended up with 12 people a year that got a little bit of recognition and plaques that gathered dust in the break room,” he said. So he instituted the Smooth Sailor program (since “Broad Reach” is a sailing term) to recognize employees who go the extra mile. Good deeds — such as the nursing assistant who came in on her day off to bring a patient a Coolatta from Dunkin’ Donuts — are rewarded with $10 gift cards to Dunkin,’ Stop & Shop, and other nearby businesses. The company gives out about 1,000 cards a year to its 220 employees, and the rewards don’t stop there. Each month, all the good deed winners’ names are put into a hat for a $50 gift card drawing.

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