Top Workplaces Methodology

Get to know the strategies behind the nation’s leading employer recognition program

Discovering the nation's TOP Workplaces

No two Top Workplaces are exactly alike. In fact, they come in all shapes and sizes from just about every industry. But these standout organizations share one thing in common. They’re dedicated to people-first culture excellence, and they prioritize it day in and day out. So, how do we determine if your organization deserves a Top Workplaces award?  

Top Workplaces starts with one employee engagement survey

So, who determines if your organization is a Top Workplaces winner? Those who know you best: your employees. The Top Workplaces program starts with capturing their feedback on what matters most about your culture.

Participants of the regional and national awards programs must survey their employees using the Energage Workplace Survey. The research-backed employee engagement survey consists of 24 base statements that capture anonymous responses in four culture imperatives.

Energage Workplace Survey four culture imperatives:

  1. Align: Where the company is headed, its values, cooperation, effective meetings
  2. Connect: Employees feel appreciated, work is meaningful, working at full potential, clued-in to each other
  3. Coach: Managers care about concerns, are helpful, encourage employee development
  4. Performance: Execution, open-mindedness, innovation, clued-in leadership

The employee engagement survey also measures:

  1. Employee Engagement: Productivity, retention, recruiting
  2. Leadership: Confidence in company leaders
  3. The Basics: Pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations

Survey results are compared to our Top Workplaces benchmark. With more than 16 years of data from 27 million employee surveys across 70,000 organizations, your data is compared against the industry’s best-in-class.

The science behind determining Top Workplaces

Survey statements are based entirely on employee feedback

Top Workplaces are determined by feedback captured by the employee engagement survey. There are no essays, forms, or other organization-provided content that allows for subjective analysis.

Organizations must achieve a minimum response rate

Organizations must achieve a 35% response rate to be considered for the Top Workplaces award. For organizations with fewer than 85 employees, at least 30 survey responses are required.

We rule out questionable results

Energage statistical tests look for any questionable results and ensure organizations are accurately administering the survey. Sometimes, we have to disqualify a small number of organizations based on what we find or other factors such as a low response rate.

Organizations are grouped by size band

Participating organizations are categorized into size bands, from small to large or extra-large. We do this because of a phenomenon similar to “mean reversion,” where the larger the group of people, the less extreme their scores can be.

We rank companies within each size band

Organizations are ranked within their size band based solely on employee responses to the survey statements. The top employers in each size band are selected as Top Workplaces winners. We also determine a list of special awards based on standout scores on specific survey statements.

Survey responses are compiled and scored

Companies with the highest overall average scores (compared to like-sized companies) qualify as Top Workplaces.

Top Workplaces eligibility requirements

National Top Workplaces awards

National Top Workplaces includes annual and quarterly employer recognition, including USA, Industry, and Culture Excellence awards. To be eligible, organizations must employ a minimum of 150 employees. Companies can be public, private, nonprofit, for profit, or governmental. There is no cost to participate.

For national awards, employers are categorized in four size bands:

  • 2,500+ employees
  • 1,000-2,499 employees
  • 500-999 employees
  • 150-499 employees

Regional Top Workplaces awards

Working together with some of the most prestigious media outlets across the nation, there are regional Top Workplaces awards in more than 55 major U.S. markets. Depending on the region, eligible organizations must have a minimum of 35 or 50 employees. Companies can be public, private, nonprofit, educational, or governmental. Like the national awards, there is no cost to participate.

Have questions? Go here to see our Top Workplaces Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Show the nation you're an employer of choice

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