The 26 happiest companies in America: What makes a company 'happy'?

Business Insider takes a look at US employers who provide a nurturing, productive environment for their workers.

Robert Galbraith/REUTERS/File
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote address at Facebook F8 in San Francisco, California, in this file photo taken March 25, 2015.

Facebook fanatics may be lonelier, but it turns out Facebook's workers are some of the happiest employees in America.

That's according to a Business Insider survey that found Facebook tied for the top spot in its list of the 26 happiest companies in America.

Facebook tied with two other companies, Eversource Energy, a New England energy provider, and Domtar, a paper company, for the highest level of job satisfaction, the key factor considered in Business Insider's list.

The surprise: While technology companies typically score high on such lists, there were only three tech companies on Business Insider's list, including Google.

The sector that racked up the most spots on the list? Energy, with nine companies on the list.

So what makes a company "happy" - and why are happy employees key to building a successful business?

"Happy organizations not only attract and retain high quality employees, but also get consistent and high levels of performance," said Paul Thurston, associate professor of management at Siena College in Loudonville, NY. "Managers within these organizations help their employees to develop their talents and operate at their full potential. The end result is employees who are engaged in their work and find ways to help their organizations achieve long term success."

"Every morning when I go in, I feel like the luckiest guy on earth for ever landing a job here," writes a Facebook data scientist in Menlo Park, California, on Glassdoor.

That enthusiasm may be one reason why Facebook is one of America's success stories.

Job satisfaction, it turns out, is good for both employers and employees. Happy workers are productive workers and productive workers help boost a company's bottom line.

The reverse is also true: disengaged and disgruntled employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion a year in lost productivity, according to analysis by the Gallup Organization.

That's why more companies today are focused on promoting professional happiness, which has become something of a science. 

According to career networking site CareerBliss, eight factors make a company "happy." They include: work-life balance, an employee’s relationship with his or her boss and co-workers, office environment, job resources, compensation, opportunities for professional development, and company culture.

Also important, according to Business Insider's analysis of Facebook, is work that offers a sense of purpose.

When PayScale, Business Insider's data partner for the survey, asked Facebook employees,"Does your work make the world a better place?" some 81 percent of Facebook employees said yes.

And while compensation is important - an experienced employee at Facebook makes $135,000, about 17 percent above market rate, according to Business Insider - it isn't everything.

As Steve McClatchy, founder of Alleer Training and Consulting, told Fast Company, a happy workplace is one that is committed to perpetual improvement - both of the employee and the company. "It’s one that supports employees in achieving goals, letting them fail, and learn from that," he said.

The good news: Even non-Facebook workers can find and improve job satisfaction, even in their current position.

Experts at Psychology Today and Fast Company suggest workers customize their jobs to maximize their strengths and pursue their passions.

In the end, it doesn't matter what company an employee works for. No matter where they work, the happiest workers get involved, ask for what they need, don't stay in one role for too long, seek additional training and classes, and find something in their work from which to draw motivation and meaning.

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