“You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed your employees’ expectation of management.” — Howard Schultz

This statement from the CEO of Starbucks says a lot about how to build a Top Workplace.


With an approach to managing workers like that, it’s little surprise Starbucks often ranks among the best places to work in various listings and as one of the most admired and ethical U.S. companies.

Not bad for a service company where workers make on average $11 a hour. While that’s not much above the Maryland minimum wage, Starbucks offers generous benefits, what it calls a “special blend” of bonuses, 401(k) plans, health/medical/dental plans, parental and sick leave and even tuition reimbursement.

Energage explains how it conducted the Top Wrokplaces survey for The Baltimore Sun.

But Starbucks’ ability to retain and develop talent goes beyond great benefits. As Coppin State’s Ronald C. Williams points out in the closing column, the company fosters a strong workplace culture that engages employees in a mission that transcends serving up Americanos and frappuccinos “to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

While the company has erred from that mission as it did this year when two black men were arrested in one of its Philadelphia cafes while waiting for someone, it was quick to right things and was praised for that response.

Part of that approach starts with Schultz, which is why The Baltimore Sun again chose to highlight the leaders who stood out among this year’s Top Workplaces.

We asked the top leaders among the large-, midsize- and small-employer categories questions about their leadership style and how it contributes to making their organizations Top Workplaces.

For the eighth year in a row, The Sun collaborated with Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee research and consulting firm, to survey employees and analyze the data to identify the Baltimore region’s Top Workplaces. Energage, whose mission is to help employers create places where people want to work, conducts similar surveys for other U.S. newspapers.

Energage scored and ranked the results, dividing employers into the large, midsize and small categories.

We offer thanks to those companies that participated and to the leaders who offered their advice on running Top Workplaces. We hope you like this year’s magazine and, if you love your job, you’ll nominate your employer next year.

Meanwhile, if you want your workplace to make the list next year, Schultz offers some other advice:

"Treating employees benevolently shouldn't be viewed as an added cost that cuts into profits, but as a powerful energizer that can grow the enterprise into something far greater than one leader could envision."