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Some job perks go beyond the usual

April 01, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

Businesses generally offer benefits to employees, but some businesses have found that special perks can help them to stand out, encouraging job applicants to want to work there and existing employees to stay.

For Mike Martin, a single father and coordinator of academic advisement at Hagerstown Community College, the child-care center, known as the Children's Learning Center, has been useful over the years.

The child-care programs serve children ages 2 to 6, and the college offers discount rates to faculty and staff, according to Elizabeth Stull, director of public information at HCC.

"It's a great benefit to have child care here," said Martin.

He said his son "can come with me, he can go home with me, he's in the same building as me." And, he said, "It's a decent cost for me to pay."

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Martin saves about $500 a year in child-care costs because he works at HCC, Stull said.

Other benefits Martin has taken advantage of at HCC are tuition assistance at other institutions and the computer-purchase program.

"I started here as a worker with a bachelor's degree," Martin said. "With the help of the college, I was able to get a master's degree without any loans."

Martin has purchased a computer through the college, which is an option for any regular full- or part-time employee.

"I've actually purchased a laptop and home computer in the past four years," Martin said. "You work out a plan and money gets pulled out of your account and you pay it over two years and it is interest free."

Washington County Health System, the parent company of Washington County Hospital, provides a child-care center on Virginia Avenue.

It also gives employees recognition points that can be redeemed for gifts, according to Robin Haywood, compensation and benefits manager for the health system.

"Having a center that is managed by the health system gives us the opportunity to have input into the kind and quality of care that our children receive," said Ken Hilker, print shop supervisor at the hospital. "The subsidy allows us to get more value for our child-care dollars with access to programs and services that are either more costly or not provided by some private care centers."

Karen Near, inventory specialist in the hospital's Family Birthing Center, was awarded the Shining Star award.

"The Shining Star award is a component of our Applause! employee recognition program," Haywood said. "Its purpose is for employees to nominate each other as a star performer. Nominations are reviewed for overall outstanding performance in relation to our core values of Trust, Respect, Excellence, Accountability and Teamwork."

"I was so humbled and proud to know that I was appreciated," said Near, who has been with the health system for 29 years. "It is an honor to be recognized, and it is fun to be able to pick out a gift."

Haywood said employees can choose gifts ranging from jewelry and electronics to designer handbags and event tickets through the employee recognition point system.

Citicorp Credit Services offers employees discounts on many of the services it offers the general public, said David Crotty, director of human resources. Employees have access to free banking, lower interest rate credit cards, lower mortgages, no closing costs or reduced closing costs, and the like.

"We have a corporate Web site that has discounts - a comprehensive service that gives employees discounts," Crotty said.

Crotty said employees can choose from several different credit cards that have lower interest rates and no annual fees.

"I have a platinum select card," Crotty said. "(The) interest is 7 percent instead of 11 percent."

Citicorp also offers a full child-care facility on its property at a reduced rate, Crotty said. The facility provides care for infants through children up to 12 years old.

The Woods Resort, in Hedgesville, W.Va., offers free resort membership to its employees, said Terry North, restaurant manager.

Free membership gives employees the use of the resort's indoor and outdoor swimming pools, two golf courses, indoor racquetball, tennis and outdoor basketball courts, a fitness center, and a 25 percent discount on spa services.

Additionally, employees receive a 25 percent discount on meals when they come to the resort as guests.

"Naturally, they don't pay for their meals when they're working," North said

"I've used all of the benefits, they are great benefits," said Marketing Coordinator Karen Paulik.

For some, a business perk need not be something tangible.

Jennifer Snyder, assistant manager and program director of the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex, said that the biggest benefit of her position is the learning experience it provides.

"I have a bachelor's degree in sports management and it is hard to find a good job where you can move up," Snyder said. "I am actually happy at my job and I enjoy it. That is very important when you do have a job because happiness brings success."

As assistant manager, Snyder also receives the perks of having a position of authority at the Ice and Sports Complex.

"Everything that goes on here at the rink goes through my manager and I," Snyder said. "I run all of the programs, so I can say what can be and what can't be when my programs are involved as well."

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