Since 2020, companies and their employees have been on an emotional rollercoaster in the wake of the pandemic and a precarious economic outlook that have altered work- and home-life routines.
And the 10th edition of The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Top Workplaces provides organizations an opportunity to receive free, unfiltered feedback from their employees so they can see how they stack up internally, as well as in comparison to companies of similar size.
“It really is an employees’ market right now,” said Bob Helbig, spokesman for Energage, the suburban Philadelphia outfit that conducts the employee surveys as research partner for the Union-Tribune. “We’re seeing record participation in Top Workplaces all over the country because companies want that third-party validation, a sort of seal of approval from their employees, that this is a great place to work.”
All it takes to participate in Top Workplaces is for someone to nominate a particular company by going to http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/nominate or by phone at (619) 780-3999.
Energage then contacts the businesses and if they agree to take part, employees receive an anonymous survey that takes about five minutes to complete. Employees read about 25 statements — such as, “My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful” — and rank them on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
Responses to the surveys are kept confidential, with Energage sharing the results to companies in private.
“There is anonymity in the process and it goes to the heart of what we try to do, which is to help organizations improve,” Helbig said. “It benefits companies to know in which areas they have some strengths and in which areas there’s room for improvement.”
There is no cost to take part. Anyone can submit nominations — employees, management and even people who are not employed at a given company. Nonprofit organizations, companies in the government sector and private businesses are all eligible, provided they are located in San Diego County and employ at least 50 people.
The deadline for nominations is June 24.
“You need to know where your employees stand and you need it measured in a scientific way,” Helbig said. “This is all we (at Energage) do. We don’t do anything else except survey employees about their sentiments about work.”
The top performers will be revealed in a dedicated section in the Union-Tribune in November and recognized at a special event. Companies are broken down by size: Small (50 to 149 employees), midsize (150 to 499 employees) and large (500 and more).
Last year, 141 organizations in the San Diego area took part in the survey, with more than 16,000 employees filling out the questionnaire.
Energage conducts Top Workplaces surveys for media clients in 61 markets, including the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Denver Post.
“We really feel that employees are in the best position to judge whether their organization is operating at its best,” Helbig said.
Power Digital, a marketing company with an office in Old Town, has taken part in the survey and received recognition for being a great place to work.
“I would tell a CEO of a company who may be on the fence about taking part (in Top Workplaces) that it is a great opportunity to learn more about your company as well as a way to create new business leads with clients,” said Power Digital CEO Grayson Lafrenz. “The insights pulled from our survey allowed us to identify our strengths and weaknesses as a company which ultimately provided us with an opportunity to become better for our team members and our clients.
Energage expects to survey about 3 million workers across the country this year. So far, the results indicate some dissatisfaction on the job front.
Employee engagement — measured by motivation, loyalty and the incidence of workers likely to recommend their workplaces to others — has slipped to 61.6 percent in the first three months of this year, compared to 65.3 percent in 2020.
In April 2020, 88.6 percent of workers surveyed by Energage said they would encourage workers to join their organizations but in September 2021, the figure dipped to 81.8 percent.
“Employees are not being shy about giving candid feedback about their organizations,” Helbig said. “Companies that have a history of listening, of articulating and making decisions based on what they’ve heard (from employees) are in really good shape.
“The flipside is if you are running a company where you’re acting like people should feel lucky to have a job and lucky to be there, that wears thin and people are going to assess their own talents and satisfaction. If they can’t find it where they’re at, they’re going to look for it somewhere else.”
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