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These Tampa Bay Tech award contenders know the secret to attracting and keeping talent

Margie Manning



Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Workplace culture trumps pay when it comes to hiring and retaining top talent.

That’s why the strategies AutoLoop, Nextech and Tech Data are models to learn from in a competitive hiring environment.

All three companies are finalists for Tampa Bay Tech’s “Workplace Culture Program of the Year” award, which recognizes an organization whose culture is unique, inclusive and ever-evolving, with a demonstrable impact to the business, programs or projects undertaken.

Culture is so important that 70 percent of professionals in the U.S. today would not work at a leading company if it meant they had to tolerate a bad workplace culture, according to a June study by LinkedIn. Factors such as salary and titles ranked lower.

‘Having fun together’

Company culture sets AutoLoop apart, according to the Clearwater company, which provides automotive marketing software.

“Having fun together as a team is how we bond, and it’s how our leadership rewards us for all the hard work we put in day after day,” the company said.

AutoLoop employees

Among the specific programs cited were:

  • Free healthcare to every employee
  • Weekly yoga
  • Personal massage therapist
  • Premium coffee and delicious snacks always on hand
  • Monthly birth celebrations, complete with cakes, goodies, and the AutoLoop Mariachi Band.
  • Social events throughout the year, such as Sushi Feast (featuring rolls made by an in-house sushi chef), Chili Cookoff, Thanksgiving Feast, annual beach party, annual movie outing, yearly Howl-O-Scream outing at Busch Gardens, and the Loop Holiday Party, featuring a unique theme and spectacular prizes each year.

AutoLoop currently has 413 employees – the company refers to its workers as Loopsters – and expects to add about 80 workers in the coming year.

Core values

A positive workspace and atmosphere is a priority at Nextech. The Tampa company provides healthcare technology for specialty physician practices and expects to add 50 to 80 workers to its current staff of 233 in the coming year.

After 30 percent employee growth in 2017, Nextech rebranded its human resources department earlier this year. It’s now the People and Culture Department.

The team created a program around core values – integrity, collaboration, respect, empowerment, accountability, trust and excellence – then implemented programs, policies and benefits that emphasized those values.

Nextech staff using their volunteer hours for Habitat for Humanity

Some specifics cited by the company:

  • A program to offer discounts on insurance premiums for healthy activities
  • Paid parental leave for new parents
  • Paid volunteer time off for all employees
  • Participation in charitable events, including the Making Strides 5K Walk (American Cancer Society), Fight for Air Climb (American Lung Association), Pediatric Cancer Fundraiser, Go Red for Healthy Hearts Day (American Heart Association) and The Spring Family Sponsorship

“Having a positive workspace and atmosphere where everyone surrounding you is rooting for you and your goals has proven to be successful in creating a healthy workplace culture. It is important to prioritize this in order to ensure our clients stay happy, and even everyone in your day-to-day life,” a statement from Nextech said.


Tech Data, an IT distributor in Clearwater and the largest company in Florida based on revenue, has a culture that’s very focused on employees.

A key recent initiative was renewing core values, and the process included listening to employee voices across Tech Data’s global footprint, the company said. As a result, Tech Data added “inclusion” to its list of values when launching its new branding in 2017.

Tech Data workers raising a Pride flag at the Clearwater headquarters

The company has a formal approach to building an environment of inclusion, citing:

  • Cultural competency education
  • Employee-driven resource groups
  • Cultural community outreach efforts

Workplace culture was an important factor when Tech Data bought the Technology Solutions group of Avnet, a $2.6 billion deal that boosted Tech Data’s revenue by more than a third to $36.8 billion and increased headcount by more than 50 percent. Tech Data currently has about 14,500 workers worldwide.

Tech Data created a network of change ambassadors to help both its own employees and those from Technology Solutions with the integration.

“Few companies have allocated such a large number of resources to manage change throughout the acquisition,” a statement from the company said. “Tech Data understands a positive workplace experience for our employees is key to our performance and our corporate reputation as an employer of choice.”

Tampa Bay Tech, Florida’s largest technology council, will announce award winners at a Nov. 9 ceremony.








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