When you hear “Tampa,” the mind conjures warm images of sunshine, cigar smoke and palm trees. The initiated may fondly remember walks along Bayshore Boulevard, a Lightning game at Amalie Arena, or a tour of the burgeoning craft beer scene.
All good things, to be sure. But living in paradise also means working in paradise. So what is it like to clock in where the rest of the world comes to kick back?
“We are an inherently inclusive and diverse workforce,” says Keri Higgins-Bigelow, Founder/CEO of livingHR, a Tampa-based business that helps local companies recruit premier talent from around the globe. “We have a strong presence of female entrepreneurs, an increasing focus on diverse technology talent, and a multi-lingual, multi-generational talent pool that has always, and will always, be unique to Tampa.”
As a consultant to many of Tampa Bay’s employers and a founder of two companies herself, Keri is well acquainted with workforce in the region. She says the city of Tampa’s recent resurgence has employers thinking more creatively about ways to bring in the perfect hires. She calls these hires “rainbow unicorns” due to their rarity and value and pays homage to them with a giant inflatable unicorn in the livingHR offices, located off Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa’s Westshore neighborhood.
“Some organizations have done a great job of offering a ton of flexibility, like co-working spaces across the bridges to avoid commutes, incorporating work from home policies, flex-hour policies for anyone who needs it,” she explains. “We’re also starting to see, on the recruiting side of the house, a willingness for organizations to relocate talent. It used to be, ‘find me someone here.’ But more and more, Tampa employers are willing to relocate a candidate if it’s the right person.”
We asked Keri to give us some examples of the diverse workplace cultures that span Tampa Bay. She helped us compile a list of 7 companies that offer a glimpse into what it’s like to work in Tampa Bay.
Transferwise is a European fintech startup on a mission to remove the hidden fees from international money transfers. They have a global footprint and a vibrant presence in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa. “When TransferWise leadership from the UK and Estonia first reached out to us to design their initial people systems and structure in the US, we were (and still are) enamored by their come-as-you-are, inclusive culture.”
Many companies say they value “wellness,” but few know how to do it. That’s where Peerfit enters the picture. “Peerfit is one of the most exciting start-up stories in Tampa,” says Keri. “The concept is genius and makes great use of wellness dollars available for employer healthcare plans.” On a mission to “redefine wellness at work,” Peerfit has taken the growing focus on wellness in the Tampa Bay region and turned it into a business model.
25 miles east of Tampa in unassuming Plant City you’ll find one of the region’s more interesting small businesses. Bourbon & Boweties creates unique Southern-style jewelry, and its manufacturing team consists entirely of stay-at-home moms, retirees, and freelancers – all located in Tampa Bay. “How many people can go into Nordstrom and purchase an item that was made by someone in their community?” asks founder Carley Ochs. “Our hometown roots really set us apart, in our workforce, in our customer service, and in our approach to business.”
ConnectWise is a success story born and raised in Tampa. “If I were to name the company in Tampa that actually has a Google-esque culture, it would be ConnectWise,” confirms Keri. “They have it all: the fun, the food, and the fantastic opportunity to innovate.” Valued at $1.2 billion, there is clearly more to this software company than fun, but certainly not less.
“WilsonHCG is simply one of Tampa’s best places to work because they get the importance of culture and talent,” Keri gushes about the global talent recruitment firm headquartered in downtown Tampa. “They offer an incredible path for their people to grow here in Tampa straight from the local Universities and/or relocating the best talent to Tampa.”
This thriving IT Security firm, which also has offices in Las Vegas, is always pushing into new frontier. “ReliaQuest is ‘known’ in the community for having an enviable, winning culture,” according to Keri. “Anyone who tours their office can instantly feel the awesome energy, the genius at work, and a rapid pace, all with an awesome view of the Tampa skyline and the bay.”
Globally headquartered in downtown Tampa, the Sykes building has become one of the most recognizable parts of the skyline. Officially dubbed Rivergate Tower, the cylindrical building is situated on the bank of the Hillsborough River and next to downtown’s popular Curtis Hixon Park. “Everyone knows the SYKES building from the outside,” Keri says, “but what is really incredible about SYKES is on the inside. They truly do care about their people, from the very top of the organization.”
“What is interesting about all of these companies,” Keri notes, “is that there isn’t one type of company that fits Tampa. Tampa’s workplaces are as diverse as the people that make them up because this city is always supportive and welcoming to new, innovative ideas and people.”
So what can we learn about workplace culture in Tampa Bay? From global corporations to small businesses, dressed up to dressed down and everything in between: you can find a work culture that suits you in Tampa Bay. And if you can’t, well… you can always build it!