Some workers find fun, not angst, on the job – News – Ocala.com

At UniFirst Ocala, which is among Florida Trend’s annual list of the state’s best companies to work for, routine visits from an ice cream truck help with employee morale.

Hot summer days in Florida don’t go unnoticed working for UniFirst, an industrial laundry company that deals with uniforms on a daily basis.

Employees who work for UniFirst Ocala can cool off with a special treat or two from the ice cream truck that visits the plant on the company’s dollar.

Something as simple as a popsicle helped land the company, along with eight others in Ocala and Gainesville, on Florida Trend magazine’s annual list of the state’s best companies to work for.

“We believe that it starts with the culture,” said Kelly Fairchild, regional sales manager for UniFirst Ocala.

Many of the companies on the list stand out because of the community they provide inside their offices, offering workers frequent social opportunities and outings.

Fairchild said the company also hosts a yearly Founder’s Day picnic, a company-wide initiative that helps everyone remember where things started, and crucial core values that should be maintained.

Alisha Cochrane, director of human resources for the North American Veterinary Community, said the vet office builds morale in many ways.

Some of its socials have included tubing at Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, a luau-themed lunch, a pet-friendly work atmosphere and an open gym.

In July, the company showed employee appreciation with activities like complimentary car details, massage/spa days, gift cards and a social at Painting with a Twist.

Workers at Pepine Realty in Gainesville don’t just help clients find the right home for their family or business, but they also talk about books, volunteer in the community, host themed potlucks and relax with monthly office yoga — all on the clock.

Infinite Energy hosts an annual office Olympics where employees participate in games and activities, including volleyball, corn hole, a “brain bowl” and a balloon relay, right in the company’s parking lot, said Mat Houchens, digital marketing manager.

Houchens said the company also rewards its employees at an annual holiday party where $100,000 is broken into various denominations and given to the workers. Everyone earns a ticket for each year they’ve worked at the company that gives them the chance to win cash in a drawing. One lucky employee whose ticket is pulled gets the $50,000 grand prize.

Other companies, like Capital City Bank, try to make work more fun through community service and morale-building activities.

“We believe in order to have productive and great client service, we need happy associates,” said Brooke Hallock, chief brand officer of Capital City Bank.

The company helps build office relationships through many team-oriented socials which include “Fish” camps.

The idea came about from a fish market in Seattle where the market’s owner encouraged morale among employees and tourists through little things like tossing a fish around and finding ways to make the job more fun, said Kip Harrison, Gainesville’s community president of Capital City Bank. The Seattle company’s management techniques were the inspiration for the “Fish!” book series.

ITPro.TV, which has locations in Gainesville and the United Kingdom, hosts beer Fridays, known in the company as “beer thirty,” to help celebrate a successful work week.

The company uses its lobby Opus coffee shop and keeps an open bar tab on Fridays, serving locally-brewed beer on tap — on the company’s dollar.

“It provides mingling opportunities for teams not seen on a daily basis,” said Valerie Riley, director of marketing for ITPro.TV, an online IT certification program.

This month, the company hosted some employees that work at their U.K. branch. They bonded over a Rock Band XBox competition where teams of four competed against one another to see which “band” rocked the best.

In summing up her company’s philosophy, Fairchild said that with UniFirst, “It’s important to recognize that putting money back into the company, its people and its product helps create a successful culture.”

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