Over the years I have heard several business owners refer to the no asshole rule, which means having no employees that are... well, assholes. While this rule might not ensure that you have the best and brightest working for you (here are some ways to find resilient employees), it does ensure that you have nice people. Depending on your culture, this is a key ingredient in work culture where employees, customers and vendors are treated nicely. Also, not having to deal with an annoyance like assholes when just trying to get the job done is challenging enough.
In a recent issue of BusinessWeek, there was a good piece on how Zappos is selling classes on creating a winning culture. (When I say winning, the company was recently acquired for a bit less than one billion bucks). At the end of the piece was a reference to David Brautigan, who runs a heating and AC repair business and attended a Zappos seminar. David decided to fire 12 employees who were not being nice and "things got better." He also rewarded those who were being nice (trust me, getting rid of the assholes was probably reward enough). With unemployment around 10%, it is not only a great opportunity to trade up with respect to talent, but with respect to "niceness" too.