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Top Places to Work | Methodology

How we chose the Top Places to Work

November 8, 2009

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THE EMPLOYERS YOU see on the Globe 100’s Top Places to Work ranking take care of their people. They make sure employees are compensated, are presented with the opportunities and the tools to build strong careers, and are able to enjoy a rewarding work life and environment.

But you don’t have to take it from us. Just ask the workers themselves. That’s what we did.

The Globe invited more than 1,000 employers to participate in the second annual Top Places to Work. Of those, 269 organizations 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 160,000 employees at those companies, and received completed surveys from 86,000 individuals. Each was asked to grade their organization’s performance according to 24 distinct statements, ranging from “This organization demonstrates it values employees during difficult times ’’ 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. The top companies for diversity were determined based on initiatives they have in place.

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 workplaces were defined as those with 250 to 999 employees; and large workplaces were those with 1,000 or more workers.

All companies were then ranked within their size band.

The results were compiled in the three charts that list the top 10 small, midsize, and large employers.

For the master list, the one that ranks all 100 Top Places to Work, the scores were weighted within each size band so that the most exceptional organizations appear at the top of the list.

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Methodology

More coming Sunday

Pick up The Globe and go to boston.com/topworkplaces on Sunday, Nov. 8 for the top 100 list and more.