How the 2017 Top Workplaces are determined

Strong senior leaders set the tone for high-performing companies. But when it comes to judging whether an organization is a terrific place to work, there’s only one audience that matters: the employees. For the eighth year, Philly.com partnered with Exton-based WorkplaceDynamics, the employee research and consulting firm, to determine the Philadelphia area’s Top Workplaces through employee surveys.

In September, Philly.com started running articles and advertisements encouraging people to nominate companies as Top Workplaces. WorkplaceDynamics invited those companies and other organizations in the region – 938 in all -- to take the employee survey. Any organization was welcome, as long as it had at least 50 employees in the Delaware Valley. Organizations could be public, private, nonprofit, or governmental.

WorkplaceDynamics surveyed 182 organizations that agreed to participate in the survey process. Those surveyed firms employ 86,605 people in the Philadelphia area. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 39,291 responded, either on paper or online. This year, 125 Philadelphia-area employers scored high enough to earn Top Workplaces honors. 

The employee survey seeks responses from 24 statements covering seven areas, including organizational health factors that measure how well employees are working together toward a common cause:

  • Alignment – where the company is headed, its values, cooperation
  • Effectiveness – doing things well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas
  • Connection – employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful
  • My Manager – cares about concerns, helps learn and grow

In addition, the survey asks employees about other factors:

  • Employee Engagement – loyalty, motivation, and referral
  • Leader – confidence in company leadership
  • The Basics – pay, benefits, flexibility

Statements relating to “Connection” and “Alignment” were among the most important to employees, while statements about pay and benefits rated among the least important. “Obviously, you have to treat people fairly and pay people well, but we find pay and benefits correlate least with employee engagement,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics.

To ensure organizations are playing fair, WorkplaceDynamics runs statistical tests to look for questionable results. It sometimes disqualifies employers based on those tests.

For the rankings, employers are placed into groups of similar size, because smaller employers tend to score higher than midsize employers, and midsize employers tend to score higher than large employers. Based on scores determined from the employee survey feedback, employers within those size bands that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces. WorkplaceDynamics also determined a list of special awards based on standout scores on specific survey topics.

If you’re wondering why a particular employer isn’t on this year’s list, it could be because the company either chose not to participate in the program or did not score high enough based on the survey results.

“Fundamentally, we believe engaged employees drive productivity and results,” Claffey said. “We urge more Philadelphia-area employers to measure what’s really happening within the organization.”