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8 metro Atlanta companies with cool and unusual perks

The average starting wage at CostCo is about $11.50 an hour. And at Qualcomm, where cognitive technology is king, four or more employees can start a hobby club and request funding; one group builds robots. Employee "perks" still exist, far beyond a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving. In no specific order, here are eight Atlanta companies that consistently appear in surveys as cool places to earn a living.

»RELATED: AJC Top workplaces in Atlanta 2017

WellStar Health System

5669 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Atlanta

WellStar Health System has been recognized as a great place to work by AARP, Working Mothers magazine and Becker's Hospital Review, among many others. Employees are offered a long list of perks, which include a concierge service to handle the staff's day-to-day personal errands like oil changes and dry cleaning. WellStar also covers 84 percent of full- and part-time employees' medical premiums and pays 76 percent of their dependents' medical benefits. Bariatric surgery is covered if the procedure is done at a WellStar hospital. And there's also a farmers basket program in which staff can buy fresh local produce, delivered weekly for $16 a basket or less.

CINC (Commissions Inc)

1351 Dividend Drive, Marietta

The reason CINC opened its doors in 2011 is that Atlanta didn't have anything like it in the real estate technology industry. Five years later, it's still a trailblazer. The AJC recognized CINC as one of the best places to work in Atlanta in 2016. Why? CINC has its own on-site chef to prepare gourmet lunches for staff. Employees can wear jeans and flip-flops every day if they so choose. And even the team mascot, WIT, has a story. The large blue and yellow stuffed animal was adopted during a competitive night at Dave and Buster's and serves as a constant reminder to give each client, each project and every situation 110 percent.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA)

600 Celebrate Life Parkway, Newnan

For the past four years, Cancer Treatment Centers of America has ranked in the top three of the AJC's annual survey of Best 150 Workplaces. You won't find employees there. Instead, every staff member is called a "stakeholder." They are rewarded for completing an annual physical. In addition, there's a strong emphasis on life/work balance with perks such as gym memberships, healthy cooking classes, on-site fitness classes and team-volunteer service opportunities. CTCA also offers programs that address the emotional well-being of stakeholders, some facilitated by on-site pastoral care and mind-body medicine teams, respectively.


990 Hammond Drive, Atlanta

Rob MacLaine took over as president of 3Ci, an information technology staffing and services company, in December of 2014. "We had 20 percent growth last year," MacLaine said. "And we're tracking 30 percent growth for this year." One of the first things he did was to create a tiered compensation package, which allows employees to choose their own pay scale. MacLaine said 3Ci's top performers are paid more than their counterparts at the competition; below-average or average-producing 3Ci workers earn the equivalent to what its competition pays top producers.

There are other incentives as well. For example, every week, a new goal is rolled out. If top performers hit it early on, the staff can leave at noon on Friday. If the goals are met on a "special" project, the work week ends on Wednesday.

Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA)

 1675 Cumberland Pkwy SE, Smyrna

Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta is often recognized as a great place to work, especially by Fortune magazine. CHA has made the national list of 100 Best Companies to Work for 11 years now. This year, it locked in at No. 78. What does CHA do that's so remarkable? A number of things, like providing healthcare benefits to part-time employees. Telecommuting, job sharing and on-site childcare are also perks. The average base pay for an hourly employee is almost $54,000 and employees with less than five years on the job receives 26 days of Paid Time Off; after five years, they are given 30 days of paid leave.

Recreational Equipment Inc (REI)

Atlanta, Kennesaw, Alpharetta and Buford locations

They are called "Yay" days. REI employees receive two per year. That's when they head into the great outdoors, on paid leave, using the biking, hiking, skiing, camping and climbing equipment they so passionately sell to other enthusiasts. In addition, last year REI dumped $60 million into its incentive plan and profit-sharing contributions, including giving every eligible employee an automatic 5 percent retirement contribution by way of their 401(k) and an additional 7 percent profit-sharing contribution. Part-time staffers who work at least 20 hours a week are also eligible to receive the company's health care benefits.


191 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta

Deloitte has made Fortune magazine's national list of 100 Best Companies for 17 years. An employee receives about 43 days of paid leave a year, according to the company's website. Deloitte also offers a sabbatical program with a month of unpaid leave, or between three and six months of leave at 40 percent pay, with benefits, to pursue professional or personal goals. Employees are also offered up to $10,000 in tuition reimbursement and $25,000 to help doctoral candidates cover expenses writing their dissertations. In addition, Deloitte offers bonuses for employee referrals worth up to $7,500.

Alston and Bird

1201 West Peachtree St., Atlanta

This 123-year-old Atlanta-based law firm takes care of new moms in the same way it supports employees with aging parents. Alston and Bird (A&B) even offers a Catastrophic Leave Sharing Program to help an employee who is coping with a family member's devastating illness and has exhausted their paid leave. Attorneys have up to 18 weeks of PTO; staff members are given 12 weeks. A&B also offers as much as $10,000 for adoption or surrogate-related expenses. Pregnant moms share clothes through a co-op maternity closet and they even have reserved parking spaces close to an elevator in the last trimester of pregnancy. There are parent support groups and an entire wall is dedicated to displaying the artwork of employees' children. A&B is a recipient of the Work-Life Seal of Distinction award from WorldatWork's Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP) and is also on the AJC's list of best workplaces.

UPDATED: The reference to Home Depot has been removed from this article.

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