A Maryland real estate company has given its employees a $10 million bonus, to be split among the company’s 198 employees, Yahoo! Finance reports. The amount of the bonus is based on the employees’ time of service with the company, so some are getting six-figure bonuses while others are getting comparatively little.
St. John Properties in Baltimore manages and develops real estate. Like so many other businesses, it also holds office holiday parties and hands out Christmas bonuses. At the company’s party on December 7, the nearly 200 employees learned that this year’s bonuses would be exceptionally generous: $10 million, split nearly 200 ways.
Founder and Chairman Edward St. John, who went to extraordinary lengths to keep the big surprise a secret, says that rewarding his employees for their hard work was the right thing to do.
“I steer the boat, but they’re the ones that run the boat. They’re the ones that make the boat go. Without the team we are nothing. We are absolutely nothing,” he said.
Company President Larry Maykrantz said that he and his team talked things over and ultimately decided that the most fair and equitable way to distribute the bonus was not based on an employee’s position in the company or their seniority, but rather, by how long they’d worked there.
“We spent a little bit of time discussing it and believe me, once we made that decision, we realized that was the only fair and equitable way of handling this,” he says.
That means that the biggest share of the bonus — $270,000 — went to the employee who had been with the company the longest (44 years), while at least one, who hadn’t been with the company very long (he or she just started this week), got $100. The average bonus was $50,000.
“I heard screaming, crying, laughing, hugging, and then within 10 to 15 minutes, everyone came forward to the front podium where Ed St. John and I were standing and started forming lines to shake our hands, to kiss us, to hug us, to thank us,” Maykrantz said.
So why $10 million, and why now? It seems that the company wanted to reward its employees for reaching a milestone, a goal set by the business 14 years ago. Back in 2005, the company set forward the ambitious goal of doubling the size of its holdings, from 10 million square feet to 20 million square feet. At the time, company executives thought that it would take 40 years, not a mere 14.