These Were The Best Places To Work In the U.S. This Year

After calculating millions of employees’ opinions, this is what the best places to work and the happiest companies have in common.


Editor’s Note: This article is one of the top 10 Leadership stories of 2015. See the full list here.


Research and development, marketing, and infrastructure often dominate a business’s investment budget. But did you know that companies have spent about $720 million a year trying to measure and boost employee engagement, according to analysis of the market from Bersin by Deloitte?

Despite these efforts, many workers remain less than thrilled to head to work. Gallup found that 51%, were still “not engaged,” and 17.5% were “actively disengaged” in 2014.

But some companies have cracked the code on engagement, causing their employees to crow about their positive culture and all-around merit on a number of different factors. Two rankings have just been released that extol the virtues of these companies, in the words of their own workforce.

The 2016 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards for the Best Places to Work and CareerBliss’s 50 Happiest Companies in America for 2016 analyzed reams of employee reviews to see which create the work environments that resonate the most with their employees.

Glassdoor sifted through more than 1.6 million company reviews in which employees
were asked to anonymously share the pros and cons of working for their employer, as well as rate career opportunities, compensation and benefits, culture and values, senior management, and work-life balance on a scale of one to five. To place among the Best Places to Work for large companies, they had to have at least 1,000 employees and rate at least 3.51.


First timer Airbnb swept the ratings to rank No. 1, overtaking Google, which lost its top spot and fell to No. 8. Other newcomers include Expedia (16), Delta (21) and Red Bull (46). It’s worth noting that of all the companies in the top 50, only four stayed on the list for eight consecutive years since the awards were first given in 2008. They are: Google, Apple, Bain & Company, and Chevron. Click here for the full list.

For its 6th annual ranking, CareerBliss analyzed thousands of confidential independent employee reviews ranking their employers on a scale of one to five on 10 key factors that impact overall employee happiness including: their relationship with management and the company CEO, compensation, workplace environment, growth opportunities, satisfaction with job role, and overall workplace setting.

Health care as an industry dominated the Happiest Companies rankings. UnitedHealthcare landed the No. 1 spot followed by biotech giant Amgen Inc. and global pharmaceutical corporation Novartis International AG. Tech companies made the grade but were not as highly rated. Adobe placed ninth, Google at 18, Microsoft was in 38th place, and Apple brought up the rear at 48. A full list of the top 50 companies is here.

Common Themes Among The Best And Happiest

Glassdoor’s CEO Robert Hohman says this year’s winners have much in common, according to their employees, including mission-driven company cultures, great career advancement opportunities, a sense among employees that their work has impact, and amazing benefits and perks. “Employees at Best Places to Work report feeling valued at work, a sense of community, and excitement for their company’s business outlook,” he adds.

CareerBliss found that the consistent themes among the 50 companies that made their 2016 list included career development support, a positive relationship with managers, and a strong company culture.


Management’s Role In Boosting Engagement

Hohman points out that for its debut ranking, Airbnb employees reported a mission-driven culture and enjoy great perks and benefits, including a $2,000 travel stipend per year in Airbnb credit. “Hubspot employees report a high confidence in business outlook (the company went public in 2014) and a transparent culture in which management regularly asks for feedback and takes action based on employee input,” Hohman notes.

In the CareerBliss survey, one UnitedHealthcare employee explained the value of having an employer invest in their career development. “UnitedHealthcare is very organized and has an excellent intranet for learning more about the company and furthering your education,” this employee said.

The Perks of Offering Good Perks

Companies expanding benefits and perks, especially parental leave options, have made headlines in recent months, says Glassdoor’s Hohman. “Employers on our report like Facebook, Adobe, and Zillow all have unique offerings for new parents,” he points out. According to employees on Glassdoor, Facebook offers four months of paid parental leave plus thousands of dollars in “baby cash” to new parents, while Zillow allows new moms traveling to ship breast milk. “These are all attributes that employees at these companies have cited as benefits of working for their employer over this past year,” he says.


On the CareerBliss platform, one Adobe employee noted: “The company has great perks for their employees that include company parties, outdoor activities, indoor pool and ping-pong tables, and a computer gaming room. They also have a great cafeteria that provides excellent food.”

Don’t Forget The Fellowship Of Coworkers

We know from previous research that those coworkers with whom we spend a large part of our waking hours have the ability to impact our happiness at work. Friends in the office have the potential to make us as happy as earning $100,000 more per year.

Heidi Golledge, cofounder of CareerBliss says, “This year we noted that employees once again stated that compensation is important, but far beyond a paycheck is the relationship they have with their coworkers and manager that defines a happy workplace for them.”

One employee of Texas Instruments said, “I enjoyed working with my department and with the people on my team,” along with flexibility and good pay, to which Golledge says, “This goes to show that in many cases happiness cannot be bought.”

Similar results surfaces on Glassdoor’s surveys. An interaction designer at Google wrote: “Everyone works together to achieve big and have fun while doing it. The perks are unbelievable (food, massage, gyms, discounts, etc.) but the best part is being surrounded by such amazing talent. It’s truly inspiring.” 


Is It Possible To Be Happiest And Best Place To Work 100% Of The Time?

Both surveys indicate that no company is perfectly happy or perfectly satisfying to all employees all the time. Indeed, the top two rated companies on Glassdoor hovered at 4.6 out of a possible five, while those ranked between 21 and 43 all tied, scoring four out of five. On CareerBliss, top ranked UnitedHealthcare came in at 3.67 out of a potential five, while many other companies hung in at around 3.55.

For CareerBliss’s Golledge, happiness is a work in progress. “We believe that every employer and employee has the ability to find and create work environments that foster happiness and success,” she says.

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.