Best Places to Work 2022
Whatever the secret sauce may be, these companies have it—from wellness programs and paid sabbaticals to subsidized childcare.
Location: Ballston (headquartered in Westminster, Colorado)
Employees: 4,192; about 50 in Ballston
What they do: Space technology and intelligence
What’s to love: Support for military families and working parents
From consumer mapping used by 911 and ride-share services to satellite images that monitor climate change, 3.8 billion people interact with Maxar technologies every month.
The company maintains an active veteran employee resource group—10% of its staff are veterans—and in 2021 created the Maxar Better World Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofits that support military families. The foundation awarded $275,000 in cash grants in 2021, and $240,000 so far this year.
Maxar prides itself on “a diverse and inclusive workplace that encourages curiosity and big ideas.” People of color make up about a third of its workforce and 18% of senior staff. In 2021, its leadership joined more than 2,200 CEOs nationwide in signing the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, committing to increasing diversity in the workplace. (They also signed a similar Space Workforce 2030 pledge.)
The company supports several scholarship programs and this year offered three paid summer internships.
Maxar offers its employees discounted childcare through a local provider, as well as adoption support, including reimbursement of agency and travel fees, legal assistance, and paid time off before or after an adoption.
Staff also enjoy unlimited flextime, monthly on-site massages, cold-brew coffee on tap, and free or discounted tickets to entertainment and sporting events.
What they do: Health care
What’s to love: Kids and dogs in the office
The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine is an independent medical practice that offers more than 40 types of treatments and services—including acupuncture, meditation therapy, long-Covid recovery, sleep management and physical therapy—aimed at restoring health and vitality for patients with chronic pain, or anyone who would like to improve their overall health.
The center’s staff looks beyond each patient’s symptoms to figure out the root cause of their pain. “I have never had a medical professional spend so much time with me to try to understand my health from a holistic perspective,” says one client.
That fundamental mission to help others goes a long way toward creating employee satisfaction and a cohesive work environment. “Co-workers have a familial feeling for each other,” says president Gary Kaplan, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who is board certified in family practice and pain management.
Employees with childcare conflicts can bring their kids to work any day of the week, and dogs are invited to the office on Fridays (which are half days), says executive director John Doleman.
Staff also enjoy birthday celebrations, an annual holiday steakhouse dinner party, a pension plan and monthly catered lunches. “You can chitchat in passing, but being able to sit down [for a meal] with your co-workers is nice,” Doleman says, “because we all like each other.”
What they do: Tax and accounting services
What’s to love: A company culture built on diversity—and free lunch!
Diversity isn’t merely a buzzword at this veteran-owned certified public accounting firm. Its employees represent nine different countries, and half are minority women.
Wendroff recently participated in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, a U.S. State Department program that invites entrepreneurs from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada to contribute their skills to U.S.-based businesses. Alfonso Aguilera, a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Argentina, spent a month at the firm after creating an app that automates accounting processes for people who are self-employed.
The company fosters a supportive work environment with an emphasis on hands-on training. Each new employee is assigned a mentor, and seasoned staff members teach essential accounting skills during weekly lunch-and-learn sessions.
Other thoughtful perks include free lunch three days a week during tax season and four-day workweeks during the summer.
Location: Falls Church
What they do: Restaurant group
What’s to love: Equity in hiring and a Fiesta Squad
Thirteen years ago, Yorktown neighbors Osiris Hoil and Marc Wallace were chatting over homemade chips, salsa and guacamole when they decided to launch a business serving Yucatan-style eats from a food truck in Rosslyn. In 2010, District Taco opened its first brick-and-mortar store on Lee Highway (now Langston Boulevard).
Since then, the locally grown taqueria has expanded to include 15 locations in the DMV and the greater Philadelphia area, and is poised to franchise its casual dining concept nationwide, with a five-year plan that starts in the mid-Atlantic and heads west.
Quality staff are the backbone of the company’s growth, Hoil says. To ensure that new hires are chosen solely based on their skills and experience, all identifying information—such as names, addresses and pronouns—is removed from résumés before managers review them.
Once hired, employees become part of the family. “If they ever deal with mental or physical limitations, we work with them and their doctors to find tasks that fit their needs,” Hoil says.
It’s also a fun place to work. A Fiesta Squad plans happy hours, team outings and a huge end-of-year party where employees can nominate colleagues who have gone above and beyond to receive $2,000 each, along with exclusive District Taco swag.
What they do: Practice law
What’s to love: Opportunities for personal growth, teamwork and service
Berenzweig Leonard is all about professional development. “We value our employees and want to lift them up,” says Jenny Salce, director of operations for the firm, whose practice areas range from cybersecurity and intellectual property to sports and entertainment law. “We encourage them to pursue training and certifications, join professional organizations, and get involved in local and national chapters at the firm’s expense.”
Service is also a core value. Through its “BL Gives Back” program, the company hosts a number of events that promote bonding and serve the greater community. Employees make sandwiches to donate to Martha’s Table during bimonthly in-office events, and participate in semi-annual volunteer days at the JK Community Farm in Purcellville, planting and harvesting crops for local food pantries.
There’s plenty of friendly competition, too, including an annual March Madness office pool (the winner gets a trophy and bragging rights), a summer Topgolf competition, a Halloween scavenger hunt and a gingerbread house-decorating contest.
For stress relief, the company sponsors quarterly “Dog Days” when employees can bring their pups to work.
What they do: Nonprofit affordable housing developer
What’s to love: An entrepreneurial mindset with community impact
Serving more than 2,000 families in D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland, APAH (formerly the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing) ensures that families making $65,000 or less have a safe place to call home. The nonprofit was founded on the belief that safe, affordable housing provides the stability individuals and families need to pursue their goals and enhance their quality of life.
APAH employees are supported in furthering their own career goals, whether that’s by taking real estate classes at George Mason University, receiving mission-related training in resident services, or attending fundraising conferences to cultivate new and long-term donors.
“We have a generous budget for training,” says Garrett Jackson, director of resource development and communications. “As a small but growing organization, there is tremendous opportunity for employees to grow their careers with us.”
Understanding that parenting and caregiver duties can be tough to juggle with work, APAH has supported employees by allowing them to scale back hours and set up part-time schedules when flexibility was needed.
The senior leadership team is equal parts Black, white and Hispanic/Latinx, and the staff makeup is similar. “Our employees are entrepreneurial and actively participate in piloting new projects, educational events and initiatives to move APAH’s racial equity, diversity and inclusion goals forward,” Jackson says.
Impromptu lunch outings, happy hours, and yoga and plank breaks happen organically here, and compressed summer hours give staff the option of leaving early on Fridays. “Employees have control over their day-to-day schedules,” Jackson says, “and the flexibility to balance work and personal commitments.”
What they do: Practice law
What’s to love: A commitment to community and sustainability
Bean Kinney & Korman was founded more than 60 years ago when four young attorneys were looking to build their professional practices. Today, the firm is leading by example on a number of fronts. It occupies a LEED Gold building near the Court House Metro Station, and has an internal sustainability task force that sets procurement guidelines for everything from planet-friendly cleaning supplies to office equipment.
Community service is another sustaining value. Employees receive two paid volunteer time-off days per year, and the entire staff participates in an annual cereal drive for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. (The latter event has become a battle of the sexes, with the firm’s 32 male staffers competing against its 37 female employees to see which team can round up the most donations. The women have won the last four years, and the amount of cereal collected increases every year.)
The firm sponsors a biweekly after-hours gathering on Fridays, encouraging attorneys and staff to chat in a casual setting with bites and beverages. But complementary snacks aren’t the only secret to retention, says marketing manager Chris Sutton. Bean Kinney employees say they value having a safe, respectful, positive working environment where sharing ideas is encouraged.
What they do: Defense and national security technology
What’s to love: Camaraderie, games and global problem solving
Threat scenarios—such as pandemics, cyberattacks and climate change disasters—are top of mind for this tech firm specializing in simulation platforms. “The capabilities and technologies we’re looking to build are extremely complex, uncharted problem sets—hence the name, Improbable,” explains general manager Caitlin Dohrman. “Our people are motivated by solving hard problems to achieve something profound and transformative, while doing it in a supportive, flexible team environment.”
Knowing the work is inherently taxing, the company offers stress relievers like virtual meditation sessions and an office game room (stocked with board games like Power Grid and Settlers of Catan, and video games such as Deep Rock Galactic) where staff can decompress during or after work hours. Company gamers have even set up their own dedicated Minecraft server.
External career coaches are available to help employees—roughly 20% of whom are veterans—improve their leadership skills. The firm partners with transition programs for veterans moving from military service to the civilian workforce, and regularly participates in veteran-centric job fairs and conferences.
Striving to maintain a culture of mutual respect and quality work, Improbable scores in the top 25 for management support and freedom of opinion when ranked against other defense contractors, according to internal tracking data. “There’s a real sense of camaraderie and trust here,” Dohrman says.
What they do: Residential homebuilding
What’s to love: A collaborative workplace with paid sabbaticals
Building a custom home involves a million tiny details, a complex sequence of trades and constant communication. Focal Point Homes aims to create residences that suit their owners, while also providing a customer experience that is positive and painless. Since 2010, the company has delivered 250 high-end homes to clients throughout Northern Virginia.
President and founder Scott Murray credits his employees as the force behind the company’s success. “We collaboratively work through challenges as they arise,” he says. “Each person is invited to share from their experiences to help each of us learn and grow.”
Staff appreciation is built into the company’s foundation. Six times a year, employees can nominate their colleagues for a “Peer Pats on the Back” award, with three winners chosen to receive $500 each. An annual picnic brings staff and their families together for fun and games.
The firm also offers more than standard PTO. After five years of employment, team members receive a four-week paid sabbatical. Fridays in July and August are designated half days, encouraging folks to take time off and get a jump start on the weekend.
Every February, the entire staff travels to South Beach in Miami for a two-day, company-paid winter break. Each employee is invited to bring one guest.
“No meetings are scheduled,” Murray says. “The trip is just meant to be for fun. It’s a great way to get to know the families and friends of our colleagues. Developing more personal relationships has made us a better team.”
What they do: Restaurant group
What’s to love: A serious focus on mental wellness
Many hospitality workers feel like they are little more than interchangeable cogs in the machine. Not at this family-run restaurant group, which is intentional about letting employees know they matter. “We feel a team member who enjoys their job is a team member who has the best chance of passing that joy to the guest,” says CEO Di Dang.
Career advancement is part of the culture at Happy Endings Hospitality, whose cheeky portfolio includes concepts such as Chasin’ Tails (Louisiana crawfish), Roll Play (Vietnamese street food), Teas’n You (milk teas) and Lei’d (Hawaiian poke). Every manager has worked their way into that position, Dang says, and with several new restaurants in the works, there will be plenty more opportunities for promotion. In December, the company plans to open a trio of new eateries at Founders Row in Falls Church, growing its presence to eight restaurants in Northern Virginia.
Happy Endings may have a provocative or playful name (depending on your sense of humor) that’s heavy on innuendo, but it’s serious about mental well-being. A “Mental Wealth” benefit covers half the cost of therapy sessions (up to $200 per month) for employees.
Each year in May (Mental Health Month), a company program reminds staff to practice self-care through mindfulness and meditation, spending time outdoors, and prioritizing a healthy diet, exercise and sleep. This year the company received a Gold Bell Seal Award from Mental Health America, a nonprofit advocating nationwide improvements in mental health care.
Lisa Rabasca Roepe writes about workplace culture, gender equity, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Fast Company and Wired.