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Methodology

How we chose the Top Places to Work

The Globe's Top Places to Work survey honors employers who care for their most valuable resource: The people who work for them.

Those people - nearly 75,000 employees of the organizations ranked here - told us that their employers pay well, offer progressive benefits and creative perks, allow the flexibility needed to have good lives both at work and at home, embrace the diverse backgrounds of their employees, and offer a promising future to all of their workers.

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The Globe invited 1,076 employers to participate in the 2011 Top Places to Work survey. Of those, 237 organizations employing a total of nearly 200,000 people 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 121,000 employees at those companies, and received completed surveys from 73,813 individuals. Each was asked to grade their organization’s performance according to 24 distinct statements, ranging from “New ideas are encouraged at this company,’’ 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:

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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 managershave a good understanding of what the company needs to do to succeed, and are they sharing information well?

Managers: Do managers listen to employees and help employees to do their job, to learn and to grow?

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 employees.

All companies were then ranked within their size band.

In order to determine how many organizations were eligible for each size band -- small, medium, 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.

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