How important is trust to a business? The authors of the annual “100 Best Companies to Work for in America,” published annually in Fortune magazine, have found that “trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces,” says Barb Dartt, business consultant with Salisbury Management Services in Portage, Mich.

In addition, independent financial analysts have repeatedly found that, over time, these companies financially outperform their counterparts. The Web site www.greatplacetowork.com reports that investing in the top “100 best places to work” each year from 1998 to 2006 resulted in a return of 14.16 percent versus 5.97 percent for the S&P 500.