Methodology: How the results were obtained
To answer the question of what makes a good workplace, the Chicago Tribune went to a crucial source: the employees.
On behalf of the Tribune, WorkplaceDynamics LLP of Exton, Pa., a workplace survey specialist, conducted an engagement survey of Chicago-area employers with at least 100 employees. The Tribune did not pay WorkplaceDynamics; the firm undertook the scientific survey for its research and business purposes.
To find organizations most likely to participate in a top workplaces survey, the Tribune used print and online advertising to accept nominations from workers, bosses and others. WorkplaceDynamics followed up, making calls directly to organizations. In total, 1,629 companies were invited to participate. Of those, 254 companies completed the survey, allowing WorkplaceDynamics to identify the top 100, divided into three categories: small (fewer than 250 employees), midsize (250-999) and large (1,000 and more). The surveyed companies employ 171,463 people in the Chicago area, of which 121,128 received surveys and 80,519 responded.
The firm surveyed employees using paper and online surveys. Employees responded to a set of statements about their feelings toward their workplace, using a seven-point scale. The statements focused on issues such as the direction of the company ("I have confidence in the leadership of this organization"), execution ("At this organization, we do things efficiently and well") and connection ("My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful").
A numerical value was attached to each statement, allowing WorkplaceDynamics to create an overall score for each company. Afterward, WorkplaceDynamics ran a series of statistical tests to look for any questionable results. The firm said it generally disqualifies a small number of employers based on these tests.
Selection of Top Workplaces
WorkplaceDynamics conducted and compiled the top workplaces list and delivered the top 100 results to the Tribune. In addition, there were 27 companies that achieved a Top Workplaces designation based on achieving the minimum national standard thresholds based on survey responses from more than 4,200 companies and 990,000 employees during the last 12 months.
The top 100 list is 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 list of companies not designated a Top Workplace was kept confidential by WorkplaceDynamics.