Top Workplaces know how to show employees they are valued and that their work is important.

At Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc., it's not uncommon for associates to tell their supervisors how things should be done.

Over the last few years, the Westerville company has made an effort to push decision-making down the chain, says Michael Swartz, CEO and president of the privately-held company that designs and produces electronic measurement instrumentation. It employs 133 people.

The purpose is two-fold, Swartz says. It allows the people most impacted by decisions to influence them, and it makes good business sense, he says. "We employ a lot of very smart people," he says. "In order to get an ROI on smart people, I have to have them making decisions."

The policy also helps increase employee confidence in their role in the company, which contributes to a positive work atmosphere, adds Thomas Bapu, a principal engineer who has been with the company since 1998. Central Ohioans want to work for employers where they feel confident about their future with the company, according to the Top Workplaces survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics for Columbus CEO. More than two-thirds of central Ohio workers surveyed cited feeling confident as a critical element of the workplace. They also want to feel appreciated and a part of something meaningful, according to the survey.

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Lake Shore also makes an effort to show its appreciation to employees, Bapu said. The company holds regular social functions and recognizes employees at its annual Movie Day event, where company leaders share information about the state of the company. After the update, the entire staff watches a movie together. The willingness to be transparent about operations helps people feel connected to the company, Bapu says. He also praised the company for promoting wellness to employees.

"They're interested in individuals. They're interested in the long term," he says.

At Homewatch CareGivers, owner Jon Hersh also puts effort into showing his interest in and appreciation for his employees. The Columbus company that offers home health services employs 54 people.

"We do lots of little things," he says. "We're constantly having parties. Any chance we get, we tell employees they are appreciated."

The company recently adopted a new paperless system for filing time sheets and other documents. It was a different way to show its appreciation to workers, Hersh says. The new system allows staff members to submit paperwork via their smart phone, which saves time and effort, he says.

"Our caregivers absolutely love it," he says. "Caregivers are not paperwork people. They want to spend their time caring for people."

Homewatch also tries to build employee confidence with an extensive on-boarding program and lots of training.

"People are much more comfortable when they are sure of what the expectations are," he says. The company also wins when employees are satisfied with their jobs, he adds. Job satisfaction "is everything," he says. "I can't have happy customers if I don't have happy employees."