“Really happy employees make really happy clients.” That’s been the working principle since Jeff Pelletier founded Board & Vellum in 2011. Everyone at the architecture and interior design firm — even new employees — gets four weeks of vacation time. Board & Vellum encourages 40-hour workweeks and flexible schedules. A paid-parental-leave policy grants equal time to moms and dads. The firm offers a 401(k) program that matches the first 2 percent of employee contributions and half of the next 2 percent. More perks: Salaries are in the top 25 percent of the local industry; any employee bringing in a new client gets a bonus equal to 5 percent of the gross architectural revenue from that job; the company pays the premiums for all employee health and vision coverage; it also covers membership in professional organizations.
Board & Vellum works toward a profit margin of 12 to 13 percent. “It would easily jump up to 17 percent or higher,” Pelletier says, “if we pulled back our benefits and compensation.” In May, the company moved into a new home on Capitol Hill. It has employee shower facilities and a large event space it offers free to nonprofits. Says one B&V employee: “They truly understand a life-work balance and how that can positively impact employees’ performance.”