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How the Top Workplaces list is determined

The Baltimore Sun Media Group partnered with WorkplaceDynamics, a Philadelphia-based research firm that specializes in employee surveys and workplace improvement, to create the region’s 2015 Top Workplaces list.

Beginning in June 2015, The Sun and its sister papers, including the (Annapolis) Capital and the Carroll County Times, ran articles and advertisements to encourage employees in the region to nominate companies for the Top Workplaces program. WorkplaceDynamics then invited those companies, as well as others in the region, to participate in the program.

Anyone could nominate a company in the public, private, nonprofit, or government sector. The sole requirement was that the organization employ a minimum of 35 people in and around the Baltimore metro area.

To identify organizations that meet the Top Workplaces’ standard, WorkplaceDynamics went straight to the people who live and breathe the culture every day — their employees.

In total, WorkplaceDynamics invited 1,274 companies to participate and surveyed 172 of them.

The surveyed organizations employ 43,024 people in the Baltimore region. In all, 37,339 employees received questionnaires, and 22,502 responded on paper or online.

The employee survey included 22 questions measuring seven different factors.

Three job-satisfaction factors measured how employees feel about their day-to-day job:

My Work: training, work/life balance

My Manager: Cares about concerns, helps employees to learn and grow

My Pay & Benefits

Three organizational health factors measured whether or not employees are working together toward a common goal:

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

Execution: How the company will get to where it wants to go

Connection: Feeling appreciated and work is meaningful

Lastly, the survey measures engagement, including retention, motivation and referral.

The results showed that the most important factor to Baltimore area employees is organizational health, with “connection” scoring as the single most significant factor. Alternatively, “my pay & benefits” ranked lowest, proving that while pay and benefits are valued, they’re considered “table stakes” for organizations in the Top Workplaces echelon.

This is not a surprising revelation, as time and time again, WorkplaceDynamics’ research has shown paying more money does not make a bad workplace better.

After the surveys were completed, WorkplaceDynamics ran statistical tests to look for any questionable results, disqualifying a small number of employers based on its criteria.

Employers were then categorized into size bands, because smaller organizations tend to score higher than mid-size companies, and similarly, midsize organizations typically score higher than large employers.

Within each size band, the organizations were ranked according the how they scored on the employee feedback survey and the top employers in each band were selected for the 2015 Baltimore Sun Media Group Top Workplaces list.

You might wonder why your organization was not named on the list. One possibility is that your company participated, but the survey scores weren’t high enough to meet the WorkplaceDynamics’ standards for Top Workplaces. Or perhaps your organization did not participate in the program. Regardless, we encourage you to nominate your organization and join the program next year.

Doug Claffey is CEO of WorkplaceDynamics

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