In a tight job market, employees are more likely to question a workplace’s reputation, policies or benefits. Many will talk of “culture” when choosing an employer.

Those are the types of attributes that employees are asked about in surveys that lead to the Star Tribune’s Top Workplaces lists.

Nominations open on Jan. 7 for this year’s Top Workplaces, a partnership between the Star Tribune and Energage (formerly WorkplaceDynamics). For the past two years, Minnesota has had the most participation out of more than 40 Top Workplaces programs nationwide.

Anyone can give a nod to a company at or by calling 612-605-3306. The nomination deadline is Feb. 23.

Last year, Energage surveyed more than 2.5 million employees, 69,192 of them in Minnesota.

To make the final list, a company must have 50 or more employees in Minnesota and allow Energage to conduct five-minute, 24-question surveys with its workers starting in January and running through March.

After the surveys were tallied last spring, 252 employers scored high enough to earn honors: the top 150 workplaces, ranked based on employee feedback scores and by size, plus 102 National Standard Setters, which exceeded a national benchmark but didn’t score high enough to crack the rankings.

A special section showcasing the 2018 Top Workplaces winners will be produced in June, and a luncheon will be held to honor them.

This is the ninth year that the Star Tribune has worked with Energage on the project. The surveys cover seven areas, including these 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 me 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.

In 2017, Minnesota scored above the average on the survey for every factor except for retention. The score on that factor here was 1.9 percent below the nation’s average, which other surveys also have shown has to do with a tightening labor force.

One statistic that backs that up is the fact that satisfaction with pay is 5 percent above the national average — a sign of a more competitive market.

The market also was 3 percent or more above the national average for the absence of negativity in their workplace, the quality of communication and living up to set expectations.

As a whole, the 2017 Top Workplaces in Minnesota scored similarly to the previous year’s firms on the survey. That consistency is important, because surveys have shown that current workers are the best recruiting strategy for companies, especially in a tight economy.

For October, the Twin Cities tied with Nashville for the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.3 percent. Also, the number of job vacancies rose 26 percent in Minnesota in the first half of 2017, surpassing the number of unemployed people in the state for the first time since 2001.

So it is not surprising that the Twin Cities metro area ranks high on lists ranking the best places to look for a job. This fall, Glassdoor ranked it 13th.

It was seventh on Nerd­Wallet’s 2017 list, citing the unemployment rate of 3.1 percent leading into 2017, the median income of $48,249 and fairly competitive housing costs. Plus, NerdWallet considered the age of residents, citing the Twin Cities, where more than 20 percent of the population was between 20 and 29 years old.

The metro also grabbed the top spot on ZipRecruiter’s list, jumping seven spots from the company’s 2016 list.