Methodology: How the survey was done

November 30, 2011

The Baltimore Sun partnered with WorkplaceDynamics, a Philadelphia-based HR metrics firm, to determine the region's top workplaces.

Beginning in June, The Sun ran articles and advertisements encouraging employees in the region to nominate their companies as top workplaces. WorkplaceDynamics then invited those companies, as well as other organizations in the region, to participate in the program.

Anyone could nominate a company. The sole requirement was that the organization employ at least 50 people in the Baltimore metro area. The company could be public, private, nonprofit or governmental.

To pick the top workplaces, WorkplaceDynamics went straight to the experts — the employees.

In total, we invited 1,245 companies to participate and we surveyed 117 of them.

The surveyed firms employ 32,607 people in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Receiving questionnaires were 24,106 Baltimore employees, of whom 15,625 responded, either on paper or online.

The surveys included 23 questions, covering the topics of:

•Direction — where the company is headed, its values and leadership

•Execution — how the company is getting to where it aims to go

•Career — opportunities for growth, training

•Conditions — appreciation, meaningfulness, work/life flexibility

•Managers — who listen, inspire confidence, and help their employees

•Pay and benefits — fair compensation

•Engagement — retention, motivation and referral

The most important statement for Baltimore-area employees was "I believe this company is going in the right direction." The statements about pay and benefits were among the least important statements.

While pay and benefits are important, they are more "table stakes" for top workplaces. Paying more money does not make a bad workplace better.

After the surveys were completed, WorkplaceDynamics ran statistical tests to look for any questionable results. It disqualified a small number of employers based on those tests.

Employers were then categorized into size bands because smaller employers tend to score higher than midsize employers, and midsize employers tend to score higher than large employers.

The employers were ranked within their size band based solely on employee responses to the survey statements. The top employers in each size band were then selected as the Top Workplaces in the Baltimore metro area for 2011.

We also determined a list of special awards based on standout scores on specific survey statements.

You may wonder why your employer is not on the list. One possibility is that the company took the survey and scored too low. Another is that it chose not to participate. We hope that next year more Baltimore-area employers take the time to survey their employees and see where they stand.

Doug Claffey, CEO, WorkplaceDynamics

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