Paul Blom has gone the traditional route trying to find workers for his Right at Home senior services company through job fairs and hiring sites.

However, the CEO can’t find enough employees using those methods, so he also has tried Craigslist and posting notices in public buildings.

From experience, Blom knows his company has set up the right mix of work/life balance, benefits and appreciation for his employees, so he just needs to get them through the door.

“We believe that our best caregiver is someone who doesn’t even realize they want a job, but once they hear what we do, and what an impact it has on the seniors we serve, they decide they want to be a part of it,” he said.

Right at Home is third among midsize companies ranked this year on the Star Tribune’s lists of Top Workplaces. And Blom is not the only executive who has had to step up recruiting efforts in a tight job market.

Cole’s Salon and Spa, second on the midsize list, has tripled its recruiting efforts, now working with 10 cosmetology schools instead of one or two.

Yet both companies have created cultures where retention is less of an issue. Comments on the surveys done for Top Workplaces by the Star Tribune’s partner, Pennsylvania-based Energage, bear that out. At Cole’s, 58 of its current 370 employees have worked there more than 20 years.

Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage, said his company’s research has shown that Top Workplaces’ culture makes a difference.

“Top Workplaces outperform average organizations on many levels, but one key distinction stands out: Leaders of Top Workplaces see the competitive advantage of creating a workplace culture where employees are highly engaged. And they make culture a strategic priority, day in and day out,” Claffey said.

He said culture is the “only remaining sustainable competitive advantage.” Employees, he said, will walk if an organization does not live up to mission statements and stated values.

“Failing to focus on culture is how leaders lose their jobs and how companies cease to exist,” he said.

National surveys show that less than one-third of employees are engaged at work, Claffey said. But among the 47,000 organizations Energage has surveyed over more than a decade, Top Workplaces achieve almost double that engagement rate.

“Companies that score in the top 10 percent on our surveys see engagement levels above 85 percent,” he added.

Of the 361 companies surveyed in Minnesota this year for the Top Workplaces program, 56 had engagement rates of 75 percent or higher.

Minnesota companies typically score higher on Energage surveys than the rest of the country. That’s true again this year. They only scored below the national average on benefits, which is a sign of a tight economy in which workers can shop around.

“They have a more positive workforce … than what we see in the rest of the country,” Claffey said.

Energage research nationwide shows that companies need to score higher across the spectrum to reach all generations, Claffey said.

Baby boomers and Gen Xers tend to think about the potential of their companies, while millennials surveyed pointed toward direction of the company and appreciation of employees, he said.

“We’ve gone through the big recessions to the recovery, and now the job market has gotten extraordinarily tight,” Claffey said. “The level of emphasis on culture and employees is probably as high as it’s been in 10 years.”

This year, Energage received surveys from 72,205 employees at 361 Minnesota companies for the Star Tribune’s Top Workplaces program. The response rate was the best among the 50 markets surveyed by Energage.

The top 30 large (page 11), top 50 midsize (page 15) and top 70 small companies (page 22) were ranked based on the results. An additional 119 companies met Energage’s Top Workplaces national standard (page 25).

The employee survey seeks responses on 21 statements covering seven areas, including organizational health factors that measure how well employees are working together toward a common cause:

Alignment: where the company is headed, its values, cooperation.

Effectiveness: doing things well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas.

Connection: employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful.

My manager: cares about concerns, helps learn and grow.

In addition, the survey asks employees about other factors:

Employee engagement: loyalty, motivation and referral of the company to others.

Leader: confidence in company leadership.

The basics: pay, benefits, flexibility.