For the past 25 years, Great Places to Work Institute has studied workplaces and cultures to create happy employeesthe FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, which includes notable companies that outperform competitors from an employee satisfaction and culture standpoint. They use this information and compare it to business performance to ultimately offer a list of aspirational company environments that others can strive to recreate if they are focused on improving employee morale, individual performance, and making their company a great place to work.

For 2014, the top five companies included:

  1. Google
  2. SAS
  3. The Boston Consulting Group
  4. Edward Jones
  5. Quicken Loans

Each company made it to the top through strategies that may differ, but the bottom line is that these companies have something in common – happy employees who feel that the company for which they work, provides a great workplace.

But, what does that actually mean? What is a great workplace?

Two researchers, Rob Goffee, emeritus professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School, and Gareth Jones, a visiting professor at the IE Business School in Madrid, set out to identify what it really takes to create an organization that operates at its fullest potential by allowing people to do their best work, therefore creating a great workplace.

Originally, the researchers found a link between authenticity and effective leadership, which translated into the fact that, “people will not follow a leader they feel is inauthentic” and “to be authentic, they [executives] must work for an authentic organization.”

After digging deeper into this concept, Goffee and Jones found six common imperatives that organizations need to have to create the best workplace.

Here are the six imperatives:

  1. Let people be themselves
  2. Unleash the flow of information
  3. Magnify people’s strengths
  4. Stand for more than shareholder value
  5. Show how the daily work makes sense
  6. Have rules people can believe in

This seems like common sense, but, there is one caveat. Even if a company strives to incorporate these imperatives, it might not be very easy and there could be hurdles hindering the development of the ultimate workplace – hindrances such as time, money, motivation, and the acceptance to breaking tradition.

The researchers break each imperative down and provide their findings in this Harvard Business Review article (preview) that gives some simple checklists that cover each category and help you identify if your company meets any of these imperatives, and where your company might be falling short.

To download the full article, plus two other interesting in-depth pieces of content on employee engagement, click here (registration required).

Read more: What’s the Workplace Equivalent of Making the Bed?