If your company is one of the best places to work selected by the Great Place to Work Institute, then you just may have answered yes. The perks described are all actual offerings of a few of the best workplaces, respectively Zappos, Google, and DreamWorks Animation.

While benefits like these stand out as quirky or even eccentric, they often bring up two common questions: Are perks all it takes to create a great workplace? And perhaps more fundamentally, why do these businesses do it? Often people view the best companies to work for as distinguished by trendy perks, out-sized benefits, fun CEOs and top-tier financial rewards. While these grab people’s imagination, there is a more fundamental reason why these companies’ employees say they are great workplaces. In these organizations, something happens that transcends policies and practices. It isn’t what the companies are doing, but instead how they’re doing it.

Rather than a prescribed recipe of policies and programs, great work- places are built through the day-to-day relationships that employees experience. Employees believe they work for great organizations when they consistently trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.

"Employees believe they work for great organizations when they consistently trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with."

Essential tools

This fundamental definition was developed by Great Place to Work Institute through over 25 years of study and analysis of employees’ opinions at the best workplaces. Each year through its consulting and list creation work, the Institute applies and validates this definition through surveys and interviews with more than two million employees across 45 countries. It has proven universal and consistent year-over-year, country-to-country, and across companies of all sizes, industries, and employee populations. The policies and programs vary widely, yet the fundamental definition consistently proves true.

Programs and policies are essential: They are the tools that leaders and managers use to systemically create a great workplace that’s aligned with the organization’s business. But the selection and implementation of these practices make all the difference in whether they are successful in supporting the company’s goals.

Investing time and resources in people

Why does this matter? The relationships that create great workplaces affect companies’ success. At a great workplace, employee morale is high, turnover is low, and innovation flourishes. They enjoy loyal customers and a strong standing in their community. These organizations can also recruit and retain the most talented employees, because people want to work where they feel trusted and valued.

As a result, these organizations tend to thrive financially. Since 1998, independent financial analysts have compared profitability indicators of publicly-held organizations listed in the Institute’s annual “100 Best” list for Fortune with major stock market indices. The “100 Best” companies have consistently outperformed the stock market returns of the S&P 500 and the Russell 3000, achieving a three times greater return.

Regardless of whether your company is investing in extensive employee engagement strategies, working to improve its retention efforts, developing competitive reward and development programs, or just doing the minimum needed to keep things running—it is investing time and resources in its people. Choosing the right programs and policies that build trust will result in a more positive workplace for employees and greater success for your business.