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How does a company make the Top Workplaces list? By inspiring employees.

“Top Workplaces put the employee at the center of things and focus on creating the right environment to unleash potential and inspire performance,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage, the Wisconsin State Journal’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

This is the first year the Wisconsin State Journal partnered with Exton, Pa.-based Energage to determine the Madison area’s Top Workplaces. The results are based solely on a scientific employee survey process.

Starting in July, the Wisconsin State Journal welcomed anyone to nominate companies as Top Workplaces. Energage also reached out to companies. In all, 779 employers in the region were invited to take part in the process. Any employer was eligible, as long as it had at least 35 employees in the Madison area (Dane, Sauk and Columbia counties). Employers could be public, private, nonprofit or governmental. There is no cost to enter the Top Workplaces program.

For this year, 38 organizations agreed to take the survey. Combined, they employ 14,313 people in the Madison area. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 11,315 responded, either on paper or online. For this year’s winners list, 27 Madison-area employers earned recognition as Top Workplaces based on the employee feedback.

The employee engagement survey of 24 questions gathers responses regarding issues relating to workplace culture:

  • Alignment – where the company is headed, its values, cooperation
  • Connection – employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful
  • Effectiveness – doing things efficiently and well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas
  • My Manager – cares about concerns, helps employees develop
  • Engagement – motivation, retention and recruiting
  • Leadership – confidence in company leaders
  • The Basics – pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations

Employees consistently rate issues of “connection” and “alignment” most important to them, while statements related to pay and benefits rate less important.

Employers are ranked among groups of similar size to most accurately compare results. Within those size groupings, companies are ranked, and those that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces. Energage also determines special award winners based on standout scores on specific survey topics.

If you wonder why a particular company is not on the list, it might be because it chose not to participate in the survey, or because it did not score well enough in the survey process. Sometimes, Energage disqualifies employers based on questionable results detected through statistical tests it runs to ensure organizations are accurately administering the survey.

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