How Top Workplaces are Determined

High‑performing companies are successful because leadership is intentional about putting their people at the center of all they do. By prioritizing the employee experience, these companies out-produce, out-innovate, and out-deliver the competition. Top Workplaces represent the best of the best – and earning that distinction is no easy feat.

Because winning a Top Workplaces award is an outstanding achievement, we get many questions about the process, the science, and how it works. So, here’s a little information to help you understand it all a little bit better.

Top Workplaces participants represent an elite breed of company

First, it’s essential to realize that the companies that participate in Top Workplaces represent an elite breed of organization. Our research shows that these companies score, on average, 20 to 30 percentage points higher on employee engagement than the national average. Winning a Top Workplace award isn’t about beating average; it’s about outperforming organizations that have developed some extraordinary cultures.

Second, all Top Workplaces awards are based entirely on employee feedback. Employees can be both your harshest critics and your greatest advocates. You have to know what matters to them. 

That’s why the Top Workplaces process begins with the Workplace Survey, a research-backed employee engagement survey. It applies data captured from more than 70,000 organizations of all sizes, sectors, and locations during the last 15 years. In other words, there’s a lot of science and data behind it.

What the employee engagement survey measures – and why it matters

The survey is broken into three major parts. First, we ask questions related to employee engagement: 

  • Motivation: Are your employees motivated to give their very best each day? 
  • Referral: Are employees willing to refer others to work at your company? 
  • Commitment: Are your employees loyal, or do they spend time searching for a different job?

Next, we ask questions related to aspects that drive better employee engagement and better business results. At Energage, we describe these survey statements as “culture drivers.” A few examples include: 

  • Do people feel genuinely appreciated?
  • How strong are the company values? 
  • Do employees feel supported by their managers?

Finally, we ask about the Basics, which include pay, benefits, training, and more.

The proprietary formula that determines Top Workplaces

Energage employs many mechanisms to ensure the integrity of our Top Workplaces ranking process. A proprietary approach, we use a unique combination of employee feedback, well‑designed scientific measurement, and years of experience in big data to identify companies with truly remarkable cultures.

Top Workplaces are highly engaged, they deliver a great culture experience, and they take care of the basics. When employees tell us this through the survey feedback, we compare that data to our industry-leading benchmarks and measure how well similarly-sized companies score across all statements. This is how we confirm the companies that deserve Top Workplaces status. 

Winning companies earn the coveted gold badge

Top Workplaces winners can showcase the prestigious recognition to their employees and promote their status to the world. The award supports their employer brand reputation and boosts employee pride and morale. 

In addition to recognizing these premiere organizations in partnership with more than 55 of the nation’s most reputable media outlets, our national Top Workplaces program also evaluates qualifying companies by industry as well as critical aspects of culture excellence that matter to employees and job seekers. Some of these include:

  • Communication 
  • Innovation
  • Inclusion
  • Values
  • Appreciation


See who won the latest series of Top Workplaces National Awards.

View the reveal here:

Get Recognized as a Top Workplace!

Enter your email address to nominate your organization.

Energage and USA TODAY partner to publish Top Workplaces USA