Fat paychecks, light workloads, and endless vacation days don't necessarily add up to happy employees. In fact, the most content workers in the U.S. credit their bliss to first-rate employee incentives, ample benefits, career advancement programs, and great work-life balance. The companies that have been the most dedicated to cultivating and advancing these things in the past year have seen employee happiness soar.
The jobs site CareerBliss.com just announced the winners of this year's "Leap Awards," which honor the companies that have made the biggest strides to improve employee happiness year-over-year. CareerBliss evaluated more than 50,000 company reviews and ratings it received from employees nationwide to determine the top 50 deserving companies. All assessments are derived from 2011 and 2012—and to qualify for the list, each company had to have at least 10 reviews each year.
"We feel it is important to recognize the companies that have seen significant growth in employee happiness," says CareerBliss's chief executive, Heidi Golledge. "There are few organizations that honor incremental improvement, and we feel this is vital for both employees and companies to understand what drives improvement in workplace happiness."
CareerBliss asked the respondents to evaluate ten key factors that contributed to work happiness, including work-life balance, one's relationship with the boss and co-workers, the work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and job autonomy.
Respondents valued each of these things on a 5-point scale, and indicated how important each was to their overall happiness at work. These numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each company. These averages were compared to last year's numbers to find which companies had improved the most.
The employer with the greatest jump in employee happiness year over year: Google. The Internet search, cloud computing, software and advertising giant saw a 36.7% leap from last year.
It's no surprise Google employees are so happy. My colleague Meghan Casserly recently reported that in addition to free haircuts, gourmet food, on-site doctors and high-tech cleansing toilets, Googlers are now offered death benefits. Casserly writes: "Should a U.S. Googler pass away while under the employ of the 14-year old search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. Even more surprising, a Google spokesperson confirms that there's 'no tenure requirement' for this benefit, meaning most of their 34 thousand Google employees qualify."
CareerBliss chief technology officer Matt Miller says Google actually took a dip in employee happiness last year, but made great strides in 2012. "Employees stated that the support they get, rewards they receive and the overall way they work were all areas that they felt happier with this year," he says.
Golledge says she was surprised that Google's was at the top of the heap this year. "It had ranked No. 1 on our happiest companies list in 2010 and had dropped off in 2011," she says. "We are excited to see the growth from the year prior as we know the Google culture has a renowned impact on employees."
In the No. 2 and No. 3 spots are SuperMedia, a Dallas, Texas-based publishing and Internet company, and Unisys, a Pennsylvania-based IT firm. SuperMedia employees rated the place they work 20.7% higher than the year prior, while Unisys employees were 20.1% happier.
"Every employer who receives a Leap Award should take pride in their workplace happiness initiatives," says Golledge. "Even though we are coming out of a recession, it is good to see companies putting their efforts into providing a great environment for their employees. These efforts in workplace happiness will ensure that their employees will be around for years to come, as happiness breeds loyalty."
She says CareerBliss finds each year that work-life balance is a key factor in determining employee happiness. "Employees want to know that they can balance their career with their family and personal life. Often this reigns over things like salary. Having programs that allow managers to offer employees flexibility can be a key component in creating a happy work environment. In addition, we see career advancement programs have a big impact on overall employee happiness. Often employees will take a job for a lower salary, if the company provides a comprehensive program and mentorship programs which will help grow their career. Employees want to learn, develop and sustain a successful career path."
Workplace happiness is the core of CareerBliss' mission, Miller adds. "From both ends of the spectrum, an individual's happiness at work will create happiness throughout all areas of their life, and likewise a company with a happy, motivated workforce will see exceptional results in its products and services."