By Maria Anton

The Wall Street Journal together with Winning Workplaces just published its third annual article spotlighting the 15 small businesses with the best workplace perks for employees.

You might be surprised that they could find 15 workplaces with good environments in today’s economy. But the Journal points out that many of the companies covered did lay off people or cut pay this year.

Each company profiled uses different methods to reward its workers, but what struck me reading through all of them was that the biggest focus was on employee retention. A cynic could say that in the current employment climate, employees should be happy simply to have jobs—and many entrepreneurs do take this wrong-headed view. However, the 15 companies in this article aren’t complacent. Despite the economy, they’re actively working to keep their employees on board.

Several companies profiled offer training programs, ranging from mentoring and cross-training to encouraging employees to take outside classes and reimbursing tuition costs. Others offer profit-sharing or transparency as to the company’s finances to help workers feel like they have more of a stake in the business. Some offer flexible schedules to accommodate personal needs; one even offers three free meals a day to employees and their familes. And one working to keep employees around in the larger sense by offering a generous fitness and wellness program, and financially rewarding those who participate.

The reason for all this effort? “If there’s anything we’ve learned the hard way, it’s that turnover hurts profits and customer service,” says one entrepreneur profiled in the article.

Enabling workers to explore their skills and interests, learn more about what they love to do, and do it on behalf of your company, however, benefits everyone involved.

Check out the full Wall Street Journal article to get some ideas of your own about what your business could do for its workers.