Nominations are now open for the 2019 Star Tribune Top Workplaces.

This is the 10th year for Minnesota's Top Workplaces, a partnership between the Star Tribune and Pennsylvania-based Energage. Anyone can give a nod to a company at or by calling 612-605-3306.

The nomination deadline is Feb. 22.

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 this month and running through March.

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

Last year, Energage surveyed 72,205 employees at 361 companies in Minnesota to come up with ranked lists of small, midsize and large companies, as well as a list of firms that meet national standards.

The results showed Minnesota has a high bar when it comes to workplace issues. Of the companies surveyed, 56 had employee engagement rates of 75 percent or higher.

Human resources experts say the higher the engagement, the easier it is to recruit and retain employees, which over time saves companies money.

Employee engagement comes in many forms, and companies where employees praise the culture might be very different from one another.

For example, if a company has a robust training program, regular evaluations and team meetings, it may appeal to more outgoing people or those who need steady feedback.

Another company may expect its workers to be self-starting and does not have regular check-ins, but communicates effectively what's going on and how valuable employees' contributions are. More introverted or self-disciplined people may feel right at home at this business, as long as they feel their independence and work is appreciated.

The key, experts say, is for businesses to refine their culture and values, own them and communicate them. If they don't — causing workers to be unsure of how the company does business or why they don't fit in — then employees are less likely to own their work or spread the firm's story in a positive way.

These factors can make the difference in employee engagement and retention, which are even more important in a tight job market. Studies have shown that engaged employees can affect the bottom line. A 2016 Gallup poll found that companies who scored in the top 25 percent in employee engagement were 22 percent more profitable than those companies in the bottom quartile.

Companies on the Star Tribune's 2018 Top Workplaces lists ranked high in cultural attributes. The top five factors that employees favored last year: their companies' values aligning with their own; feeling appreciated by employers; workplaces that address their concerns; having a sense of meaningfulness; and managers who help employees do their jobs well.

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, that 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.

Catherine Roberts • 612-673-4292