By Christopher Tkaczyk
August 26, 2011

Think it’s fun to work at a bank these days? At Portland, Ore.-based Umpqua, where the day may start with marshmallow dodge ball, it sure is.

FORTUNE — It’s not the free coffee and movie screenings that make Umpqua Bank (UMPQ) such a great place to work; it’s a democratic culture that requires that all employees become expert in everything, from teller functions to new accounts to small-business lending. And then there are the morning rituals: Each day starts with a mandatory “motivational moment,” which ranges from a game of checkers to the more, shall we say, oddball pursuit. On a recent morning at one of the company’s “stores” (the word “branch” is banned), store manager Blaine Bartholomew and legal counsel Ky Fullerton engaged in a game of marshmallow dodge ball (see above). Nervous investors looking to take the edge off these days might want to try it too.

100 Best Companies to Work For rank: 25
Headquarters : Portland, Ore.
Employees: 2,200
Revenue: $391 million
Fun fact: Founded in 1953 in Canyonville, Ore., as a place for loggers to cash their paychecks, Umpqua now has 188 locations between San Francisco and Seattle.

This article is from the September 5, 2011 issue of Fortune.


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