Fortune’s recent “100 Best Companies to Work For” edition talks about corporate culture. In the rankings for this year, aided by surveys taken in a partnership with Great Place To Work, the key to the cultures of the top 100 companies is how the culture fosters relationships between management and employees. The surveys focus on what are called the Trust Index© Survey and the Culture Audit©.

“The best workplaces understand the factors that are truly valued by their people. They perpetuate policies, practices and behaviors that strengthen the employee-manager relationship. Employee retention improves, mitigating the costs of continual re-hiring of personnel.” –

Relationships are the key to any culture, and the setting, time, and authenticity that supports healthy relationships will also support strong results. We are ALL hungry to connect, to get to know one another and to be known – in virtually any setting. In my trainings and corporate retreats, people who spend hundreds of hours together each year know little about each other’s passions, emotions, and life stories. They’re not invited to bring their whole self to work, leaving behind their emotions and their most important relationships. The progressive and winning companies are the ones that invite employees to bring their “whole self” to work in order to create authentic relationships and a sense of community.

Create a culture of trust through improved relationships

Employees’ attitudes about management’s credibility, overall job satisfaction, and camaraderie among team members will foster and enhance relationships that lead to a culture of increased trust and loyalty. Delegation of authority, flat organizational designs, and fair conflict resolution foster empowerment and respect for senior leaders. Yet to do all these things takes more than a few policy changes. It takes focused communication and interpersonal relationship training.

Values-based policies and practices have a direct, long-lasting effect on employee morale, and can communicate management’s desire to foster an environment of common interests and values; making everyone feel as though they are a critical part of something bigger than a group of people gathered together for the purposes of selling stuff and making money.

How do you measure your investment in the culture of your company? Hours of training per employee? Annual investment in personal development? Mentoring programs? How do you really communicate your values and purpose to your team? Are you fostering the types of internal relationships that your team members are hungry for? If so, celebrate it. If not, what’s this costing you?