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Best Places To Work Theme 2010: Fun Counts
By Andy Cohen
September, 2010

Every company on the Best Places to Work list provides typical health care and financial benefits (retirement or bonus programs). But some also infuse their corporate culture with the kind of fun and unique benefits that truly make a workplace one that employees want to go to everyday. These are the fun evangelists, the companies that know that a good time and workplace productivity can go hand in hand.

Talbot Marketing (asi/341500) takes fun so seriously that it named a two-person committee responsible for commemorating all the birthdays at the company. Every quarter, the committee arranges a theme pot-luck lunch for the whole company, and any employee who has a birthday in that quarter receives their own personal cake. Talbot also has a social club, which has the committee planning activities for employees to do outside of work – families included. Events have been golf tournaments, theater outings and bowling nights. The best part? Talbot Marketing pays for half of the cost of the whole thing, with employees paying the other half.

“On the whole, Talbot Marketing is a company that is unlike any other,” says Talbot’s Steve Levschuk. “While we put in a lot of work, we do it in a fun environment and atmosphere. And that makes for a good feeling at the end of the day or week.”

Another distributor on the list decided to turn the downturn of the past couple of years into an opportunity for its employees. The owners of Pinnacle Promotions (asi/295986), Dave Weintraub and Mitch Weintraub, instituted a “Family Feud” last year by splitting the Pinnacle family into two teams and seeing which team could generate the most creative ideas to help the company grow and combat the negative economic environment. Team Badass marked everything from the bathroom mirrors to the vending machine with their logo, but The Untouchables proved they meant business when they took first place, winning a Mexican fiesta and an extra vacation day to celebrate.

“The pranks might have pitted us against each other for a few moments in time, but overall the Feud encouraged employees from all departments to work together for their personal satisfaction and the interest of the company,” Dave says. “The results are clear, considering the fact that we’ve added new hires to every department over the past few months. As each employee joins the Pinnacle family, the old rivalries return with each team trying to claim the new worker as their own.”

Other companies use parties to let their employees, well, let loose a little. Brand Fuel (asi/145025) has had live band parties, bowling competitions, kickball contests for charity, piñata birthday parties, Halloween costume contests held at a local Waffle House, water gun fights, Easter Egg hunts, and even a backyard basketball tournament – just to name a few.

And, Pinnacle Designs (asi/78140) is one supplier that really takes its parties seriously. The company sponsored an employee pumpkin carving contest last Halloween where every employee vied for prizes. And then they backed that contest up with a holiday stocking decorating contest just six weeks later.

Management of Pinnacle Designs even uses parties as an incentive. When the company has exceptional sales periods, they’ll throw a theme party for employees. They recently had a carnival theme, where a whole carnival – popcorn, candy, ice cream, various games and a water dunk tank – was set up in the parking lot. There have also been casino theme parties and a Cinco de Mayo celebration enhanced by a lunchtime performance from a mariachi band.

All in the name of a little fun wrapped around the creation of an energetic and positive workplace. – AC

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