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Workplace mojo abounds at these top Tampa Bay companies

In your next job-hunting life, try knocking on the doors of Tampa Bay area firms with great workplaces. Get a job at one of these innovative places and you could:

• Sign up for Capital One's generous 401(k) package.

• Eat a free (and tasty) daily lunch at IT firm ConnectWise.

• Enjoy flexible work schedules at Busch Gardens and get free theme park tickets.

• Get your gym membership reimbursed (if you go regularly) by American Strategic Insurance.

• Relax at the 500-person tailgate party at HSA Engineers and Scientists.

• Grab a $1 prime rib dinner on Saturday nights at the Residence at Timber Pines.

• End your workday at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay (or Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach) enjoying some free stays at Hyatt hotels worldwide.

These are not business-as-usual places. All are creative companies that clearly care about their employees. But they go further, nurturing a work atmosphere of — what's the best word? — teamwork, mission, sense of family or purpose that transcends the 9-to-5 mentality of so many ho-hum jobs.

The companies ranked here represent the diverse range of businesses — public, private, for-profit and nonprofit — that make up this year's Tampa Bay Times' Top 75 Workplaces.

This survey marks the third year the Times, with outside partner Workplace Dynamics, has identified and celebrated dozens of top Tampa Bay workplaces split among large (500-plus employees), midsized (150 to 499 employees) and small (50 to 149) organizations. They include basic businesses like insurance companies, health care, accounting and law firms, financial co-ops and staffing organizations. Also represented in the top 75 are numerous educational providers from colleges to primary schools, tech firms, electrical and air-conditioning businesses, a theme park and even a country club.

Tampa Bay offers thousands of places to work. Why do some stand out so much more than others? What distinguishes this year's 75?

Workplace experts offer general insights. They say trust among employees and management is a huge factor. That is, workers trust that their corporate leaders know where they're going and what the company should be doing to remain competitive and growing. And they trust those leaders to hire good people and let them do their jobs without micromanaging.

Tampa's Capital One, the top workplace this year in the large-business category, gets it when it comes to fostering a can-do atmosphere. Capital One on-site director Bill Jacobs left the company but returned, saying it's "the only job I've ever had where I look forward to coming to work in the morning."

That theme resonates as well at the Residence at Timber Pines, a fast up-and-comer in our workplace surveys and this year's No. 1 midsized workplace. In the remarks of chef Keith Guzik at the posh assisted living facility in Spring Hill: "I've never gotten up once, not once since I came here, and not wanted to come to work."

You don't hear that too often.

It's not just touchy-feely stuff. Top workplaces tend to be businesses that are growing. The 15 large-category workplace winners combined to hire thousands of new employees in the past year. Tampa's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center says it added 823, for example, and plans 125 more hires in the coming year. St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care Group hired 589 last year — you can see the lunchtime boom in young workers on that downtown block most days — and intends to add 200 more.

Among midsized top workplace companies, Tampa law firm Trenam Kemker Scharf Barkin hired 13 last year and will add 10 more, while the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach added 40 last year and plans 30 more in the coming year. Even Tampa's small-category telecommunications equipment distributor, Modern Enterprise Solutions, probably won't stay tiny for long. It added 31 jobs last year; 40 are on the way this year.

Superior benefits also distinguished our top workplaces.

Even in this sluggish recovery, many top workplaces offer healthy corporate contributions to workers' 401(k)s and cover most of their employees' health care benefits. Capital One provides up to $5,000 toward adoptions and $10,000 toward fertility treatments. Clearwater non-profit Religious Community Services, which feeds the hungry, provides four weeks' paid time off to first-year employees to counter "compassion fatigue in social services."

Take note, smart readers. Looking for sharp, growing businesses that their own employees agreed were Top Workplaces? They sure sound like great places to get hired or, even better, launch a career. Good luck.

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@tampabay.com.

Workplace mojo abounds at these top Tampa Bay companies 04/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 7:32pm]
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