More than anything else, creating a great workplace takes a sense of direction.
How do I know that? Almost 23,000 local workers said so. They participated in the Tampa Bay Times third annual survey to find the area's top workplaces.
More than 70 percent of the collective workforce at the Top 75 Workplaces said a belief that their company was heading in the "right" direction was the most important factor in creating a great place to work.
The direction comes from the very top, the executives who establish a company's strong values and ethics. In two words: Leadership matters.
But it's not everything.
Company leaders need to ensure their workforce feels appreciated and has genuine career opportunities. That takes robust training programs and savvy managers.
It also helps if employees think their company's mission in meaningful. That explains why so many organizations in the education business make the list.
Shake in a heaping portion of new ideas and the ability to execute those ideas in a skilled and efficient manner, and you're getting close to employee Shangri-La, at least according the Times survey. Free food also helps.
The last ingredients are pay and benefits. It may surprise you that at the Top 75 Workplaces questions about fairness in pay and quality of benefits ranked low in importance.
One reason is that companies with lousy pay packages don't participate in top workplace surveys. Pay and benefits are a bit like the ante in a poker game — companies have to pay competitive compensation just to be in the game, says the Times survey partner, Workplace Dynamics. After paying the ante, the other factors become better predictors of a top workplace.
Turn inside and meet the winners. Employee or executive, you'll learn how 75 businesses in the area create top workplaces.