Nearly 700 people attended The Washington Post’s first-ever Top Workplaces awards ceremony. (David Kennedy for The Washington Post/David Kennedy for The Washington Post)

In the four years Capital Business has been in existence I’ve had a lot of time to hone my elevator pitch. Actually, I have several spiels, depending on the audience.

One of my favorite go-to’s is to tell people Capital Business can help you navigate our fast-changing economy. Employers these days are no longer so loyal to employees, and employees are no longer so loyal to their employers. Who wouldn’t appreciate a publication that can make sense of all that churn?

Indeed, that theme has provided lots of fodder for stories. But it hit me the other week that perhaps my assessment of the modern day workplace was a bit too simplistic.

Even in the depths of the Great Recession there existed many workplaces that measured the relationship between employer and employee by more than just the dollars in a paycheck.

You can meet a great many of those companies in our first-ever Top Workplaces special report. We teamed with the employee survey firm WorkplaceDynamics to query employees about the places they work. The organizations that received the most favorable feedback earned a spot on our top workplaces list.

Last week, we hosted the honorees at an event we hope to make an annual affair. Nearly 700 people filled the community room here at Capital Business headquarters (a.k.a. The Washington Post) and it was a pleasure to meet so many who love where they work.

You can learn a lot about what makes a good workplace when you put together a list like this. Nearly all the organizations offer a generous range of benefits, yes, but what makes these workplaces stand out is often how they view their role outside the office.

Many are involved in good works, rallying employees for a cause or supporting workers in their choice of community service. Often, they bend over backwards to accommodate family needs or special time off.

More than anything, what distinguishes top workplaces is the sense among employees that their leaders are engaged, and employees know where their organizations are headed. It sounds easy, but so many companies can fail at such basic communication.