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Top Places to Work | Methodology

How we chose the Top Places to Work

November 7, 2010

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THE ORGANIZATIONS RANKED on the Globe’s Top Places to Work have proven themselves to their most important constituency: their people. It was the employees who told us, through the survey, that these employers pay well, offer good opportunities, and strive to make room for staffers to have good personal lives as well.

Thousands of satisfied workers said so.

The Globe invited 1,160 employers to participate in its third annual Top Places to Work. Of those, 236 went all the way through the process, allowing us to conduct a confidential survey of their workers. Research partner WorkplaceDynamics of Exton, Pa., specialists in employee engagement and retention, contacted more than 133,000 employees at those companies and received completed surveys from 82,000 individuals. Each was asked to grade their organization’s performance according to 23 distinct statements, ranging from “I believe this organization is going in the right direction’’ to “It’s easy to tell my boss the truth.’’

In addition, all the employers were invited to complete a 12-question survey on workplace practices.

To compile the ranking, each employer was measured according to six factors:

Direction: Do employees have confidence in the leader of the organization? Do they believe it operates ethically and is moving in the right direction?

Execution: Do employees believe senior managers have a good understanding of what the company needs to do to succeed, and are they sharing information well?

Managers: Do managers listen to employees, praising superior work and making good use of people's skills?

Career: Does the company offer formal training and other opportunities to learn and grow, and does it reward good performance?

Conditions: Is the work environment free from hostility, and does the company help workers to balance career and family life? Does the company show its appreciation for employees?

Pay and benefits: Are workers fairly compensated?

Smaller employers tend to perform better in workplace surveys than midsize and large employers. One reason is the exposure employees have to an organization’s leaders. In smaller groups, employees tend to interact more with top management, giving them a greater sense of involvement.

All of the participating employers were placed into one of three size groups, based on the number of employees in Massachusetts, to account for the “small company effect’’ found in such surveys.

Small workplaces were defined as those with 100 to 249 employees, midsize as those with 250 to 999 employees, and large as those with 1,000 or more workers.

All companies were then ranked within their size band.

To determine how many organizations were eligible for each size band — small, midsize, and large — WorkplaceDynamics determined where there was a statistical drop in scores for large companies (the knee in the curve), and placed the cutoff point at the nearest multiple of five.

The minimum eligibility scores for midsize and small employers were chosen to be statistically consistent with the spread for large organizations.

The results were compiled in the three charts that list the top small, midsize, and large employers.

WorkplaceDynamics LLC 2010. The term Workplace Dynamics is a trademark of Workplace Dynamics LLC. All rights reserved.

The Boston Globe's Top Places to Work
Top Places in photos

Top Places in photos

Images from the top 5 large, midsize, and small employers.