While most of us are preparing to receive a wildly unpredictable white elephant gift at the work holiday soiree, the employees at one real estate company were given the most useful present of all: $50,000 in cold, hard cash.
The founder and chairman of Baltimore-based commercial real estate firm St. John Properties rewarded his 198 staff members with $10 million in bonuses at the company’s annual holiday party on December 7. Edward St. John—who obviously takes the title of coolest boss of 2019—wanted to celebrate the firm hitting a major milestone: developing 20 million square feet of office, retail and warehouse space across eight states.
“To celebrate the achievement of our goal, we wanted to reward our employees in a big way that would make a significant impact on their lives,” St. John said in a press release. “I am thankful for every one of our employees, for their hard work and dedication. I couldn’t think of a better way to show it.”
In a video of the announcement shared via Vimeo, the 81-year-old businessman thanked his staff before instructing them to open red envelopes that contained the details of their five-figure gift. The average payout was around $50,000—depending on each individual’s tenure at the company—and came on top of the annual year-end bonus, as well as other benefits. Only five employees at the company knew about the bonus in advance of the surprise announcement.
The visibly elated employees covered their mouths in shock, cried and hugged one another. “What happened tonight was magical,” said 19-year company veteran Danielle Valenzia. “It is life-changing.”
Late last year, we saw a similar act of corporate generosity as trendy e-cigarette company Juul announced a $2 billion bonus for its 1,500 employees, turning them into millionaires overnight. Sure, the St. John bonus is one zero less, but it’s fair to say it still beats that Starbucks gift card.