Aegis Living gambles on uncommon perk to foster employee loyalty

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One of last year's Dream Big Lottery trips was to Disneyland. (Photo courtesy of Aegis Living. IDs appear below.)
One of last year's Dream Big Lottery trips was to Disneyland. (Photo courtesy of Aegis Living. IDs appear below.)

Eight employees of Aegis Living are going to be especially happy Wednesday afternoon.

That's the day their Redmond, WA-based employer is announcing the winners of its Dream Big Lottery. Drawing prizes include eight all-expenses-paid vacations to destinations to be revealed that day. All that executives of the privately held senior living company will say at this point is that some of the trips are for couples, and others are for families.

It's a different way to thank workers for their loyalty and commitment, Aegis Living founder and CEO Dwayne Clark said.

“Companies really need to think outside the box about the needs and motivation that employees crave,” he said. “This kind of employee benefit not only serves as a unique and innovative employee perk; it gives families a chance at a dream vacation that some might not be able to otherwise afford.”

The vacation giveaway and more traditional but not necessarily common benefits are what helps Aegis keep its annual staff turnover lower than the industry average, according to the company. Other offerings, Aegis said, include competitive compensation, training and advancement opportunities, profit sharing, “soft” benefits such as “Appreciation Days” for time off, and discounts on massages, haircuts and prepared meals from community kitchens.

Aegis also has established the Potato Soup Foundation, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization that helps Aegis employees and their families in times of need.

It is bets such as these that led to the company in 2016 to being named the first senior living organization to make Glassdoor's Best Places to Work rankings of employers with 1,000 or more workers. 

The company has approximately 2,100 employees. To be eligible for this year's Dream Big Lottery, workers must have marked their third anniversary on the job by March 31, Aegis Living Senior Vice President of Human Resources Rick Karnofski told McKnight's Senior Living. The longer workers have been employed at Aegis Living, the more chances they have to win.

This is the second drawing through which the company has awarded vacations, he said. Last year's prizes were trips to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA; Maui, HI; and London.

“We've had two previous cash lotteries as well,” Karnofski said. In a September 2015 giveaway, Clark awarded a total of $50,000 to several long-time employees, including a prize of $35,000 to one winner.

Clark and Aegis President Judy Meleliat will announce the winners of this year's drawing Wednesday at 2 p.m. in an event streamed live from Aegis of Queen Anne at Rodgers Park in Seattle.

“Aegis Living is committed to building employee satisfaction that is unique in the senior housing industry,” Meleliat said, “but it's really our precious residents who reap the benefits. We truly love our residents, but our employees are what make us Aegis. The Dream Big Lottery is just another reinforcement of that commitment.”

Founded in 1997, the company operates 28 assisted living and memory care communities, with a total capacity for 2,000 residents, in Washington, California and Nevada. The company also is developing seven additional communities.

Pictured: Chris Meyer, left, a culinary services director at Aegis of Queen Anne on Galer in Seattle, won a trip for four to Disneyland in Aegis Living's Dream Big Lottery last year. He took his wife, Paige, standing next to him, as well as his future brother-in-law, Kyle Dominick, far right, and Dominick's then-fiancée, Sarah Veal.

Update: This year's trips included five to Disney, two to a dude ranch and one to New York City.

In Focus

Aug. 8 

Help with hydration

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Senior living communities across the country have been helping older adults stay hydrated this summer by creating hydration kits and consistently offering water and other options for liquids.

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