Whatever you might think about Washington — and in these politically charged times there is no shortage of opinions — the nation’s capital can be a pretty good place to work.

We know this because for the fourth straight year we teamed up with the survey firm Workplace-Dynamics to quiz people about their employers and discovered 150 organizations that merited mention in our annual roundup of Top Workplaces.

The curious thing about this year’s list is that the companies rated highest were not just government contractors, national associations and law firms — yes, those organizations are represented again — but also businesses from the region’s burgeoning service sector.

Our cover story this year examines how some of the standouts make such work a career and not just a paycheck. One thing is obvious: They focus on their people, typically an organization’s greatest asset.

Perhaps that’s why the people who work for top employers in greater Washington tend to be more positive, feel better about their pay and have greater work-life flexibility than others nationally. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that their company is headed in the right direction.

That sense of progress can be critically important to workers. The people who work at high-functioning workplaces tell us year after year that what matters most to them, more than their pay or benefits, is that they feel appreciated by management and have confidence in their leadership. They want to work at a company that enables them to reach their full potential — something three-quarters of those surveyed say is true about their current place of work.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Compared with top workplaces elsewhere, employees tend to find Washington-area organizations lagging in the formal training they offer. We also trail others in fostering a sense of interdepartmental cooperation. Six in 10 acknowledge they’ve considered jumping ship, possibly a sign of just how strong the job market is here, where unemployment sits at less than 4 percent.

As Doug Claffey, the chief executive of WorkplaceDynamics put it, the best workplaces are always looking to get better.

“After all, it’s a journey, not a destination,” he said.

DAN BEYERS