Top Workplaces Methodology

The strategy behind the nation’s leading employer recognition program

Top Workplaces prioritize their people

No two Top Workplaces are exactly alike. In fact, they come in all shapes and sizes. 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.

Top Workplaces is driven by employee feedback

Who determines if your organization deserves a Top Workplaces award? Those who know the company’s culture best: your employees. The Top Workplaces program starts with capturing their feedback about what matters most. 

Top Workplaces begins with the Workplace Survey. Part of the Energage Platform, the research-backed employee engagement survey measures employee engagement and what drives it. 

The Energage Workplace Survey measures four culture themes:

  1. Align: Company values, direction, cooperation, meetings
  2. Connect: Employee appreciation, meaningfulness, potential, well-informed 
  3. Coach: Managers care, employee development, employee growth
  4. Perform: Execution, open-mindedness, innovation, clued-in leader

The research-backed employee engagement survey also measures:

  1. Employee engagement: Motivation, loyalty, referral
  2. Leadership: Confidence in the company leader
  3. Fairly valued:  Pay, benefits, training, expectations, work-life flexibility

Survey results are compared to our Top Workplaces benchmark. With more than 17 years of data from 27 million employee surveys across 70,000 organizations, your data is compared against the industry’s best-in-class.

The people science behind Top Workplaces

Survey statements are based 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 to ensure accuracy

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 employee 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 use a proprietary approach to determine the winners

Energage identifies which companies rise to the level of being a Top Workplace using a proprietary approach that combines our wealth of data and industry-leading benchmarks to ensure winners truly represent culture greatness.

We rely on the Energage Workplace Survey

This single, research-backed employee engagement survey qualifies your company for year-round Top Workplaces employer recognition, including national, regional, and culture excellence, and industry awards.


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

We partner with the nation’s most prestigious media outlets to bring Top Workplaces to 60 markets across the United States. Depending on the region, eligible organizations must have a minimum of 35 or 50 employees to participate. Companies can be public, private, nonprofit, educational, or governmental. As always, there is no cost to participate.

Go here to see the frequently asked questions.

Show the nation your company is an employer of choice

Get started today! Nominating your company to participate is the first step. The process is quick, easy, and there is no cost to survey your employees.

Energage and USA TODAY partner to publish Top Workplaces USA