With widespread turmoil in the workplace illustrated by teacher walkouts in many states, the fall of Toys R Us and the #MeToo movement, it’s probably fair to say that there will be little uptick in the U.S. job-satisfaction rate when the numbers for 2018 are crunched.

Low pay, financial instability and disrespect, experts say, are just a few of the reasons a sizable number of workers have dismal attitudes about their jobs.

The good news is that the Conference Board’s job-satisfaction rate in 2017 rose for the sixth straight year, up from 42.6 percent in 2010 during the Great Recession, when jobs were scarce and many employees were forced to take anything. Now, with the jobless rate at a 17-year low, a tight labor market has put workers in the driver’s seat: To woo and retain the best and brightest workers, employers are creating conditions to make them feel validated and happy.

Still, the bad news is that too few American workers are benefiting. Only about half of U.S. workers feel good about their jobs — 50.8 percent, to be precise — substantially below the peak of 61.1 percent in 1987. So there’s still a long way to go.

But thankfully 150 Washington-area job sites are establishing employee-affirming cultures where the vast majority of employees are highly engaged and satisfied with their work, as evidenced by the results of our fifth annual Top Workplaces survey.

Of the 341 Washington-area employers surveyed this year by Energage (formerly WorkplaceDynamics) for the Top Workplaces program, 52 had engagement rates of 75 percent or higher. Nationwide, according to Energage, less than a third of employees are engaged at work.

As you’ll see in the stories over the next few pages, workers care about getting a fat paycheck, but it’s far from the most important factor in job satisfaction.

Perhaps these workers in the survey put it best: “People are thought of as people, not merely robots who perform a certain function.” And: “My manager truly cares about my career growth and helps me to achieve my goals.”

One shortcoming of the survey is that, while we selected 65 out of 203 small entries and 55 out of 104 midsize entries, we have only 30 out of 34 large ones. We need many more large employers to enter to make our list as competitive as possible. If you’re a large employer that didn’t participate in the survey, please consider entering next year.

We hope you’ll enjoy our coverage. We also hope it spurs ideas and that more employers will consider replicating these best practices.

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