Mason Helps “Perk” Up Employees

Posted: April 10, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Probst

As an employer that received an honorable mention in Washingtonian Magazine’s review of “Best Places to Work” in 2005, George Mason University is attuned to offering employees a dynamic environment where their ideas and creativity can flourish.

“Mason understands the challenge of having a work-life balance and tries to help employees achieve and maintain that balance by offering a number of special perks,” says Rick Holt, a trainer in Human Resources and Payroll (HR).

“We want employees to feel connected, and that comes from more than just an eight-hour work day. They need to get involved in our wide variety of events, whether it is performances at the Center for the Arts, basketball games or using the gyms,” adds Linda Harber, associate vice president and chief human resources officer in HR.

“We want to support employees in their work lives and want them to know that there is something for everyone at Mason.

“We are trying to get the word out by encouraging people to go to our web site and take a look.”

One of many perks offered to employees is the ability to adjust their work schedules to something other than the traditional workday. With their supervisor’s approval, some employees can also arrange to work at home or on an alternative campus that is closer to home for a portion of the workweek.

As a participant in the Commonwealth Commuter Choice program, Mason covers the costs of employees who travel to work by public transportation or vanpool, up to $110 a month. Not only does this tax-free benefit help employees’ budgets, it also helps commuters arrange more efficient travel arrangements and reduces the number of vehicles on the roads.

Meal plans at Mason are another perk offered to employees who enjoy the convenience of eating on campus. The FASPlan (Faculty, Administration and Staff) offers employees 30 traditional meals for $99. These 30 meals are accepted on the Fairfax Campus at Bistro for breakfast and Ciao Hall for lunch, Monday through Friday. The Traditional “Byte” Plans offer employees 10, 25 and 50 block meal plans that are accepted at any dining facility on all three campuses for an equivalency rate of $4.50.

Employees can also take advantage of the various training programs that are offered to help further develop their job skills. By offering classes and seminars on such topics as health and wellness, information technology, financial systems and career planning, Mason hopes to address the issues in employees’ personal lives that can affect their professional lives. See the workshop list on the web site for more information.

For employees who are looking to get back into the college classroom, Mason offers eligible employees a tuition waiver for up to 12 credits a year for full-time faculty and classified staff (they may not exceed six credit hours in any semester). Part-time faculty members may take up to four credit hours per semester. Part-time classified employees may also take up to four credit hours per semester, but may not exceed eight per year. Employees who would like to work towards a degree must be accepted into the degree program through Admissions.

Another perk for employees with children is the Child Development Center, located on the Fairfax Campus. For children ages 2 to 5, the center provides a nurturing environment and helps to stimulate the acquisition of language and math skills and large and small muscle development. On the Arlington Campus, childcare services are offered at a discount to employees.

Employees who work in the summer and need activities for their children can enroll them in New Century College’s Summer Enrichment Camps, available on all three campuses, and receive a 10 percent discount. The camps give kids from third to eighth grades the opportunity to build self-esteem, enhance problem solving, develop leadership and foster team-building skills. Many other recreational camps are available on campuses during the summer; see the summer camps web site.

Many employees take advantage of cultural and recreational discounts on the campuses. Employees receive special ticket pricing to performances at the Center for the Arts and Patriot Center events, including basketball games.

Discounts can also be found at fitness facilities: the Aquatic and Fitness Center on the Fairfax Campus, the Freedom Center on the Prince William Campus and the Sport and Health Club near the Arlington Campus. Use of the Field House, which includes the weight room, cardio equipment, indoor track, basketball courts, racquetball courts, indoor tennis courts and volleyball courts, on the Fairfax Campus is free to employees.

By presenting their Mason ID, employees may receive a 10 percent discount at select locations of Barnes and Noble, the University Bookstore and and select restaurants on campus. “It doesn’t hurt to get out your Mason ID and ask for a discount. About half the time I have been able to get a George Mason discount,” says Holt.

Mason also offers a variety of activities to keep employees involved in university life. These include the Faculty Senate and the Staff Senate, recreational sports teams, informal book clubs and a support group for working mothers.

To help employees balance the responsibilities of work and caring for elderly family members, the Eldercare Team, composed of Human Resources and College of Health and Human Services professionals, is available to provide guidance to caregivers and managers to help promote employee and family wellness.

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