The Hartford Courant and Fox CT last week released their list of “Top Workplaces” in the Greater Hartford area.

In a column accompanying it, columnist Dan Haar suggests the ingredients that go into a good place to work: Passion, Freedom & Direction. He states:

One common thread is a system that shows respect for employees and customers alike, with a clear sense of direction, whether that means doing a better job managing behavioral health caseloads for the state (ValueOptions, Connecticut) or growing stock value a breathtaking 18-fold in less than five years, as Virtus Investment Partners has done.

But it’s more than just systems and strategies. Employees are not just dedicated to the business, to the team, but to the particular craft that they perform, with passion. The whale trainers love training whales, assisted-living program coordinators love working with elderly clients and the healers love healing.

It is about identity and it is not interchangeable. In short, it’s not just a job.

Now, I’m under no illusions that awards like these are mainly vehicles to boost advertising revenue.  The contests are far from scientific.  (Indeed, I’d argue that these surveys make the U.S. News college rankings look like Nobel Prize-winning scientific studies.)  Heck, Connecticut Magazine has its own list of “Great Places to Work”.

But there is clearly something to be said about how some workplaces are able to build a culture that employees find rewarding.

A Harvard Business Review article from earlier this year — which compiled research over a three year period — suggests that there are six attributes to a successful company:

We call this “the organization of your dreams.” In a nutshell, it’s a company where individual differences are nurtured; information is not suppressed or spun; the company adds value to employees, rather than merely extracting it from them; the organization stands for something meaningful; the work itself is intrinsically rewarding; and there are no stupid rules.

I haven’t seen any study that suggests that companies that get on such list are less likely to get sued by former employees. But that doesn’t mean that employers should simply give up; rather, having a place where your employees are happy to work at, surely is a way to reduce exposure to potential employment law claims.