There was a time when 10 to 16 hour days of manual labor for up to six days a week was standard — when compensation for that work usually wasn’t enough to feed or house a family, so every member of the family had to work. No standards existed to protect the safety of workers. Opportunity for professional development was an inherited privilege.

And haven’t we come a long way since then?

Every company has its own method for caring for employees. Plenty of companies have their own employee retention ideas, and yet some still believe employees are plainly a means to an end. More numbers are showing the benefits of an engaged workforce.

Today, we aspire for the eight-hour workday. Employees are entitled to lunch breaks and yearly vacation policies. Employees are treated with greater respect and encouraged to offer feedback about their experience working for the company, to management and sometimes directly to the public.

So how do companies view their employees today? Below are quotes by some of today’s most influential business leaders:

On the Company-Employee Relationship

“What is clear is that business leaders must commit to champion change – to be transparent about their goals for change, to align their incentives systems to drive the change, and to make sure their work environments are flexible in a way that allows men and women who choose to work to be able to achieve all of their potential.” – Beth Brooke-Marciniak, the Global Vice Chair of Public Policy for EY

“Part of company culture is path-dependent—it’s the lessons you learn along the way.”- Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

“Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield.”  –  Marcus Buckingham, Author and Business Consultant.

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace..”  – Doug Conant, former President and CEO of Campbell Soup

We want responsible people who are self-motivating and self-disciplined, and we reward them with freedom. The best example is our vacation policy. It’s simple and understandable: We don’t have one. We focus on what people get done, not on how many days they worked.”  – Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”  – Anne M. Mulcahy, former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation

”As a leader, you have to be authentic and constantly connecting with employees.”  – Jeff Immelt, Chairperson and CEO of General Electric

”Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinekmotivational speaker and author of Start With Why

“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”  – Jack Welch, former chairperson and CEO of General Electric