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How Baltimore's 100 top workplaces survey was conducted


How the survey was conducted

The Baltimore Sun partnered with WorkplaceDynamics, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm, to determine the region's top workplaces.

Beginning in June, The Sun ran articles and advertisements encouraging employees in the region to nominate their companies as top workplaces. WorkplaceDynamics then invited those companies, as well as other organizations in the region, to participate in the program.

Anyone could nominate a company. The sole requirement was that the organization employ at least 50 people in the Baltimore metro area. The company could be public, private, nonprofit or governmental.

To pick the top workplaces, WorkplaceDynamics went straight to the experts — the employees.

In total, we invited 1,160 companies to participate, and we surveyed 154 of them.

The surveyed firms employ 41,606 people in the Baltimore metro area. In all, 36,130 employees received questionnaires and 20,182 responded, either on paper or online.

The employee survey included 22 questions covering seven factors.

Three job-satisfaction factors measure how employees feel about their careers:

My work: Training, work/life balance

My manager: Cares about concerns, helps employees learn and grow

My pay and benefits

Three organizational health factors measure whether employees are working together toward a common cause:

Direction: Where the company is headed, its values and leaders

Execution: How the company is getting to where it aims to go

Connection: Feeling appreciated and that one's work is meaningful

Lastly, the survey measures Engagement: Retention, motivation and referral.

Organizational health factors were the most important to Baltimore employees, with the "connection" factor having the greatest impact. Pay and benefits were least important. While compensation remains significant, such factors are "table stakes" for top workplaces: Paying more money does not make a bad workplace better.

After the surveys were completed, WorkplaceDynamics ran statistical tests to identify questionable results. A small number of employers were disqualified based on those tests.

Employers were then categorized into size bands, because smaller employers tend to score higher than midsize employers, and midsize employers tend to score higher than large employers.

Within each size band, the employers were ranked according to employee responses to the survey statements. The top employers in each size band were then selected as the Top Workplaces in Baltimore for 2014. We also determined a list of organizations worthy of special awards based on standout scores for specific survey statements.

You may wonder why your employer is not on the list. One possibility is that the company took the survey and scored too low. Another is that it chose not to participate. We hope that next year more Baltimore employers take the time to survey their employees and see where they stand.

Doug Claffey is CEO of WorkplaceDynamics

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