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Workers At Long Island Target Store Vote On Unionization
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According to the jobs site CareerBliss.com, Target is the employer with the greatest jump in employee happiness over last year.
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updated 9/6/2011 7:20:44 AM ET 2011-09-06T11:20:44

Fat paychecks, light workloads and endless vacation days don’t necessarily add up to happy employees. In fact, the happiest employees 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 250,000 company reviews and ratings it received from employees nationwide to determine the top 50 deserving companies. To qualify for the list, each company had to have at least 50 reviews.

“The Leap Awards are important because they highlight change in our workforce,” says CareerBliss’s chief executive, Heidi Golledge. “Recognizing companies that have made great leaps to improve employee happiness in the areas of work-life balance, career advancement programs, benefits and senior management is a pivotal part of creating happy, long-lasting work environments.”

CareerBliss asked the respondents to evaluate the 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.

Forbes.com slideshow: Companies doing the most to make their employees happier

Each respondent valued each of these things on a 1-to-5 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: Target. The second-largest U.S. discount retailer saw a 12 percent leap from last year. “Across all factors CareerBliss monitored, Target demonstrated strong, positive employee feedback in every field, with the strongest employee happiness in senior management and compensation,” says CareerBliss chief technology officer Matt Miller. “As a large retailer, Target suffered layoffs in 2009 and a slow 2010, which impacted the level of overall employee happiness. Fortunately, Target is rebounding now and keeping its employees happy.”

Other big-box retailers that made the list include Wal-Mart (No. 5), Macy’s (No. 6), and Home Depot (No. 8). Discount giant Wal-Mart saw an 8.8 percent increase in employee happiness from last year, while Macy’s saw an 8.5 percent change. Trailing close behind, the home-improvement retailer Home Depot saw its employee happiness jump 8 percent.

“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.”

Among financial services companies, American Express, Wachovia, Fidelity Investments, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America made the cut, all earning spots in the top 20. American Express, the New York-based company best known for its credit card business, had a 10.4 percent leap in employee happiness, putting it at No. 2. Wachovia (No. 3) employees were 9.2 percent happier, while Fidelity (No. 10), Merrill Lynch (No. 13) and Bank of America (No. 16) saw employee happiness rise 7 percent, 6.4 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.

“We find each year that work-life balance is a key factor in determining employee happiness,” says Golledge. “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 says. “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.”

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© 2012 Forbes.com

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