What Makes the Happiest Employees?


Jeff Gapinski

5 people in an office with smiles on their face and their hands raised cheering with happiness

Even without the shadow of the “Great Resignation” looming over most industries, it’s never a bad idea to be thinking about what makes employees happy and how your organization can emulate the companies that are known for positive environments. Is it just fun activities and delicious snacks or is there more to it?

From taking a look at Comparably’s recent release of their annual happiest employees list, it’s clear that delicious snacks don’t hurt, but it’s also a combination of work-life balance, meaningful perks, and clear company goals that fuels many employees’ happiness.

Of their methodology, Comparably CEO Jason Nazar said, “Comparably looks at a combination of metrics that contribute to happiness at work, from fair pay, benefits and clear goals to excitement for the company and the work itself. Despite the challenges of the past year-and-a-half, the top-rated companies on the list succeed at meeting the needs of their workers across these important factors.”

Ready to bring more joy to your workplace? Here are ten companies to learn a thing or two from when it comes to employee satisfaction.


HubSpot is a CRM platform based in Cambridge, MA. They offer benefits like unlimited PTO, maternity/paternity leave, and tuition reimbursement. One employee said, “Unlimited time off here is not a hiring gimmick. People take the time they need to recharge and leadership trusts the employees to do that.” Not only did Hubspot make the list for happiest employees, but they also top the list for large companies with the best work-life balance.


Adobe is “the global leader in digital media and digital marketing solutions.” They offer benefits like legal assistance, performance bonuses, and working from home. One employee said, “[There’s an] amazing vision for the company…I have confidence every day I step into work.” Having a well-defined roadmap and employees who know their role in reaching company goals contributes significantly to happiness at Adobe.


Microsoft is another legacy software company that made the list. In addition to the usual perks like bonuses and paid time off, they also separate themselves with the innovative work that their employees are asked to take part in. One employee said, “I love getting to solve technically complex issues for our customers and helping to make the world turn everyday.” At Microsoft, taking pride in challenging work that leads to real-world results is a difference-maker. 


Chegg is a hub for digital student services like textbook rentals and online tutoring. They take time off seriously with unlimited paid time off as well as summer Fridays and extra days around major holidays. One employee said, “They just gave us the whole Thanksgiving week off. I feel pampered.” With that philosophy, it’s no wonder they were also near the top of the list of companies with the best work-life balance.


ZipReruiter is an employee marketplace that you might have used when you applied for the job you have now. Employees cite the culture as a major reason for their satisfaction working there. According to one employee surveyed by Comparably, “There is so much cross-promotion across teams. We all have to collaborate with one another and there is no fight for recognition or credit. It’s truly all collaborative teamwork.” Everyone likes being on a team, especially one where recognition is freely shared and reinforced.


It’s no surprise that a company with as many resources as Google might inspire some ideas for keeping employees happy. Their differentiator seems to be the flexibility and trust they allow their employees. According to one employee, “If you don’t want to work from your desk, work from a couch, a stool, a coffee bar, a cafe booth, outside, wherever makes [you] comfortable. The enablement is unparalleled.”


Medallia is a customer service and employee software company. Along with typical benefits like vision insurance and tuition reimbursement, they also know how to keep their employees motivated through coaching and teamwork. One employee noted, “I never feel like I will not succeed. Success is constantly set up for me.” 


Elsevier, a publisher in New York, shows that who you work with is often as important as what you’re working on. One employee said, “All people are open-minded and looking forward to [finding] the best solutions, without losing the focus on work-life balance.” When everyone is on the same page, it’s a pleasure to go to work.


Peloton is a health and fitness company known for its in-home exercise bike. Their differentiator for many happy employees is the effect their products have on the lives of their customers. One employee said, “I’ve always wanted to work at Peloton and I am excited to market a product I so wholeheartedly believe in.” Seeing a product you’ve worked on measurably change lives is a great feeling.

Farmer’s Insurance

Insurance companies don’t make as many headlines as the sexier darlings of Silicon Valley, but Farmer’s is doing just fine in its employees’ eyes. Like Google, the trust allowed each employee is a big reason for this. One employee said, “I am very happy with the autonomy I am given as well as the new challenges each day.” 

Top takeaways from top companies

In analyzing the many great companies on Comparably’s 2021 list of happiest employees, there were some clear trends that you can use as inspiration for your own workplace. 

First of all, every company on this list takes time off seriously. In a world where burnout is a common factor in job dissatisfaction, showing your employees that you respect their right to a healthy work-life balance will lessen their stress and lighten their load.

Many of the employees surveyed also noted that they were happy when they could see tangible results from their work. Whether that’s the health effects of a Peloton bike or a software that helps a company like Peloton get their products in more people’s hands, being able to draw a line between work and real results is important.

Also, setting your employees up for success is a winning technique for long-term satisfaction. When they can see that you’re working just as hard to create the right conditions for them to flourish as they are, they’ll be able to look confidently toward their future at the company.

Lastly, we couldn’t help but notice that 70% of the companies mentioned in this article have Bevi machines! Dare we say smart water coolers and flavored and sparkling water are a big contributing factor to employee happiness and satisfaction?

What are your thoughts on what makes the happiest employees? We’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn!


Jeff Gapinski

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