Software giant SAS ranks at the very top of Fortunemagazine's "Best Companies to Work For" list, and with good reason. Not only does the company offer a bounty of perks -- top-notch health insurance, a state-of-the-art 66,000-square-foot fitness center and unlimited sick days -- but SAS has also built a foundation based on "trust between our employees and the company," according to CEO Jim Goodnight [source: Fortune].
Corporations built on trust actually listen to their employees. Atlas Container Corp., a Maryland-based manufacturer of shipping materials, lets its employees vote on major issues that shape the company, including health insurance, disciplinary policies and bonuses. But first, the company educates its employees about those issues to ensure they'll be informed voters.
Transparency is another important part of employee ownership. That means management doesn't keep secrets. Atlas does something that's virtually unheard of -- it opens its books, revealing its sales, costs and profits at employee meetings.
How can companies succeed when they relinquish so much control? Because motivated employees produce real results. Atlas' business has grown 25 percent for the past 10 years [source: Inc.]. Even though SAS doesn't pay the highest salaries in the industry or offer stock options, its turnover rate is unbelievably low -- just 2 percent -- compared with 22 percent for the average software company [sources: Fortune, CNN].