News & Politics

Great Places to Work: Introduction

Looking for a better job? Here are 60 employers that offer generous pay and benefits, interesting work, flexible schedules, friendly offices, and the chance to learn and grow.

How did we choose the Great Places to Work?

We designed a survey, then made it available to any company—large or small, for-profit or nonprofit. We advertised the questionnaire in the magazine, on our Web site, and in newsletters.

Once a company had filled out the application, we asked that a random and sizable sample of its employees take a separate online survey. Companies could not see the responses from employees. Both surveys were designed by Leora Lawton of TechSociety Research in Berkeley, California.

We reviewed more than 225 companies, nonprofits, and government agencies, and we read more than 16,000 employee surveys. Most workplaces that applied believe in being good places to work and are a self-selecting group, so decisions are not easy.

We paid particular attention to turnover data, whether there had been layoffs, and employee-referral rates (you don’t recommend a company to a friend if you don’t like it). We weighted employee satisfaction heavily: Great benefits don’t mean much if people don’t like working there.

We compared like with like—large companies with other large firms, small with small, nonprofit with nonprofit.

We narrowed down the nominees and visited many of the contenders. A visit often revealed what we couldn’t see on paper—for example, walls covered in company awards and employee photos.

In the end, our Great Places to Work all scored very well on flexible schedules, good pay and benefits, employee development, interesting work, employee recognition, supportive managers, open communication, and collegial staffs.

Just because a company isn’t listed doesn’t mean it’s not a good place to work; many companies don’t participate. Many that did apply but didn’t make this list are still doing a lot right.

Have an organization you want to nominate for next time? Send an e-mail with the subject line “Great place to work” to

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.