If companies could bottle and sell what makes their employees happy and productive, they’d make a fortune. However, there are some staffing firms who may not have done exactly that but have created cultures that make their employees feel valued. That approach has consistently boosted the bottom line.

And this is not a new phenomenon. Workforce aficionados have been talking — for the last 50 years — about why engaging employees is serious business. We are in a very tough industry. Accusations of commoditization are often levelled, there’s a scarcity of talent and it’s hard to stand out. The staffing firm’s competitive advantage: talent. It is no surprise that staffing firms are pulling out all the stops to keep their workers engaged.

And it’s not about doling out perks. That’ so passé. But large paychecks alone are not going to keep them motivated working 60-hour weeks. Instead, as these stories illustrate, it’s about listening and providing clear job paths and growth, career development, meaningful work, flexibility, camaraderie, et al. Employees at staffing firms like what they do. Organizations big and small need the right mission that resonates. It has to be interwoven with fun, benefits and cool perks.

How do you get it right? This year’s Best Staffing Firms to Work For grand prize winners tell us. You can read their stories at bestfirms.staffingindustry.com.