“Hire to Retire” – The City of Winter Haven Takes Care of the Employees Who Take Care of the Citizens
Starting a new job should bring feelings of security in the stability of the organization, excitement in the organization’s future, visions of opportunities to grow, and a warm embrace into a supportive team. The City of Winter Haven has worked hard to create a culture and structure to deliver all that, and more.
“We don’t want to see employees come and go. We are here to find the right people, for the right jobs. Once we do that, we invest in our team,” said Shawn Dykes, Human Resources Director. “Our goal is to see everyone succeed and build careers they are proud of.”
The City of Winter Haven has worked hard over the last few years to ensure employees are well taken care of. From a salary study resulting in revised salary ranges, to instituting a pay for performance step plan, to ensuring health and retirement benefits are top notch, the City is investing in the most important asset – people.
Employees at the City of Winter Haven range from police officers and firefighters to solid waste drivers to lifeguards to executives. Every employee is valued and all fulltime employees enjoy a wide range of benefits including annual pay adjustments, 11 paid holidays, 24 paid days off, health and dental insurance, 401(a) retirement plan, and life insurance.
In addition, the City of Winter Haven offers a generous tuition and book reimbursement program for continued education, certifications, and training. This allows team members to complete a college degree, attend industry training, or even obtain required certifications for promotional opportunities at no cost to them.
The City of Winter Haven is a place employees can call home. “We value our employees and want to make sure we show that appreciation,” said Shawn Dykes. “Winter Haven is a place where everyone is welcomed and can be involved beyond just a job.” The City regularly hosts celebratory luncheons, honors employee’s big and small achievements via internal and external social media, and has year-round diversity and inclusivity initiatives. The City has also formed five teams of employees, called Key Result Area (KRA) Teams, tasked with shaping the future of the City in areas such as employee feedback, process improvement and innovation, training development and succession planning, recruitment and retention, and employee engagement.
In April, the City will be launching a new program to encourage employees to share great ideas that can improve the City. The Big Ideas program will enable employees to submit process improvements, new ideas or money saving techniques. If ideas are implemented, employees can be rewarded through a gain sharing program allowing them to receive a portion of the savings as a bonus.
A First Job Transforming Into a Dream Career
Not everyone comes to work at the City thinking it’ll be their forever home, but often they soon see the opportunities, how employees are treated, and fall in love with the potential career paths offered. Kendra Brown started with the City as a Customer Service Representative and was recently promoted to Human Resources Assistant.
Kendra shared, “When I first started, I didn’t really know anything about the City. My goal was to be a nurse and this job was to get me by until I finished school. Then I realized there is so much potential to make a career here. I’ve been here a year and a half and I’ve already been promoted!”
What’s her goal now? To grow within the City and maybe one day even lead a department.
From Part-time Lifeguard to Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture
Kendra isn’t the only City employee to find an unexpected career at the City. Scott Eilers has been with the City of Winter Haven for 25 years. Just last month he was promoted to Assistant Director of the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Department.
“I was going to be an artist,” Scott shared. He started as a part-time lifeguard to pay the bills, working during the day and creating art in the evenings. “I came in just to bridge the gap, and the opportunities kept presenting themselves and I continued to move forward. The City has been really good to me”
Scott has served as a lifeguard, head lifeguard, aquatics supervisors, park manager, athletics superintendent, AdventHealth Fieldhouse manager, and now an Assistant Director.
The artistic side didn’t die in the process. Scott is still a talented artist even lending his talents to the City when the opportunity arises. Most recently, he created larger than life nutcrackers for the annual employee holiday party.
I Wish I’d Found This Sooner
Allen Weeks, City of Winter Haven’s Chief Accountant, who recently turned 60 years old, has enjoyed a long career in business and finance, but has only worked in city government for the last nine years. “I wish that I had given a career in government a stronger look when I first entered the job market,”
Allen shared. “Working with the city allows you to make a difference in people’s lives, and you’re going to be personally rewarded in return because not only are you employed with a stable entity that offers the benefit of health insurance and retirement, you are truly part of a cohesive work family.”
Working at the City of Winter Haven means, no matter what role you fill, you’re ultimately serving the citizens. “In my role, it can be a bit more difficult to see a direct tie back to the citizens and how my efforts might support them, but the fact that my responsibilities as Chief Accountant allow me to support Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, and all of our integral departments here means I’m enabling them to serve our citizens and that is so gratifying.”
No matter where you are in your career – searching for your first job or nearing retirement – the City of Winter Haven has opportunities and paths forward for every stage of the journey.
Come Grow With Us – Job Fair @ the Rec
The City is ready to meet future employees, answer questions, and show all that is offered! Interested candidates can contact the Human Resources team anytime, but the City is also getting out into the community making it even easier for to meet representatives from every department and explore open opportunities by launching a new Career Fair series.
The first career fair will be held Friday, March 11 at the Winter Haven Recreation and Cultural Center. Everyone is invited to join City staff anytime from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 801 MLK Boulevard NE, Winter Haven, FL 33881. Each department will have a table to share more about what they do and talk through job openings. The day will also feature fun events such as raffles and giveaways.