How the Top Workplaces survey was conducted

Strong senior leaders set the tone for high-performing companies. But when it comes to judging whether an organization is a terrific place to work, there’s only one audience that matters: the employees.

For the seventh year, The Baltimore Sun Media Group partnered with Energage, formerly WorkplaceDynamics, a Philadelphia-based employee research and consulting firm, to determine the Baltimore metro area’s Top Workplaces through employee surveys.

In June, The Sun started running articles and advertisements encouraging people to nominate companies as Top Workplaces. Energage invited those companies and other organizations in the region — 1,300 companies in all — to let their employees take the survey. Any organization was welcome, as long as it had at least 35 employees in the Baltimore metro area. Organizations could be public, private, nonprofit, or governmental.

Energage surveyed a record 173 organizations that agreed to participate in the survey process. Those surveyed firms employ 39,379 people in the Baltimore metro area. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 19,625 responded, either on paper or online.

This year, 125 Baltimore-area employers scored high enough to earn Top Workplaces honors.

The employee survey seeks responses from 24 statements covering seven areas, including organizational health factors that measure how well employees work together toward a common cause:

Alignment — where the company is headed, its values, cooperation

Effectiveness — doing things well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas

Connection — employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful

My Manager — cares about concerns, helps learn and grow

Employee Engagement — loyalty, motivation, and referral

Leader — confidence in company leadership

The Basics — pay, benefits, flexibility

Statements relating to “Connection” and “Alignment” were among the most important to employees, while statements about pay and benefits rated among the least important.

“Obviously, you have to treat people fairly and pay people well, but we find pay and benefits correlate least with employee engagement,” said Energage CEO Doug Claffey.

To ensure organizations play fair, Energage runs statistical tests to look for questionable results. It sometimes disqualifies employers based on those tests.

For the rankings, employers are placed into groups of similar size, because smaller employers tend to score higher than midsize employers, and midsize employers tend to score higher than large employers. Based on scores determined from the employee survey feedback, employers within those size bands that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces.

Energage also determined a list of special awards based on standout scores on specific survey topics.

If you’re wondering why a particular employer isn’t on this year’s list, it could be because the company either chose not to participate in the program or did not score high enough based on the survey results.

“Fundamentally, we believe engaged employees drive productivity and results,” Claffey said. “We urge more Baltimore-area employers to measure what’s really happening within their organizations.”

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