10 Happiest Places to Work in 2016

A chef happily at work

Happy chef | Sergi Alexander/Getty Images

Most of us aim for a happy life. That means different things to different people, as happiness comes in different shapes and forms. But for the vast majority of people, having our basic needs met, and having a good dose of fun throughout the day, is more than enough to lead a satisfying existence. But when it comes to work? A lot of us hate our jobs – and it’s a source of disdain and misery for a huge percentage of the population.

There are a lot of jobs out there that are just bad. They may be inherently toxic in some way, or perhaps those who are employed in them are simply miserable due to the stresses of the job itself. In some cases, people just aren’t a right fit for a given position, and it slowly eats away at them.

No matter the reason, being dissatisfied with your job hurts your productivity, which can impact your co-workers, and ultimately, the organization you work for. For that reason, businesses have been looking into worker satisfaction more seriously than ever before, in an effort to make work a more pleasurable experience, increase employee retention, and build happier, more productive work forces.

Some companies do this better than others, obviously, and some industries are taking the lead. In places like Silicon Valley, for example, it’s not uncommon to find nap rooms, or fully stocked kitchens with free food in the workplace. You probably wouldn’t find those luxuries in areas where other industries are dominant – say, fishing villages along northern coastlines, or the oil fields of North Dakota. In the end, it’s all about attracting and retaining talent, using worker satisfaction measurements.

So, where are America’s happiest workers concentrated? Job search site Indeed recently conducted some research to find out. Though Indeed’s complete report outlines a number of things – including global perspectives on workplace happiness, and job satisfaction rates across America and Europe – it also came up with a clear and concise list of cities where America’s workers are the happiest.

A cursory glance at the list will tell you one thing: people love California.

“California remains a strong draw for talent, in part due to the tech industry, so it’s not surprising to see many workers in the state are invested in their jobs and show above-average levels of satisfaction,” said Tara Sinclair, chief economist at Indeed. “That said, happiness at work is often in the eye of the beholder, and the high rankings may also reflect cultural and social attitudes toward work in those cities.”

Here is the complete top 10 list.

10. San Jose, California

Source: iStock

San Jose, California | iStock

Not much of a surprise to see San Jose crack the list, as it’s more or less right near the heart of Silicon Valley. Workers are enjoying some incredible perks at big tech companies in the area, as mentioned previously, and taking home fairly high salaries relative to the rest of the country.

9. Riverside, California

Riverside, California | David McNew/Getty Images

Riverside, California | David McNew/Getty Images

Riverside is located on the outskirts of Los Angeles – a city which will make an appearance on Indeed’s list later. For that reason, there’s probably a lot of irradiated happiness from workers who work in the cities and industries nearby. What’s to love about Riverside? It’s warm, close to all sorts of natural beauty, and not too far from Disneyland.

8. Boston, Massachusetts

boston common and boston skyline

Boston, Massachusetts | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Boston is one of a few cities along the eastern seaboard to make the list, and as a startup hub with plenty of history and industry, it’s not too hard to figure out why workers there are so happy. Also, add in the number of high-ranking universities, and all of the culture that those bring to the table? You’ve got a winner.

Except those winters can be rough

7. Washington, D.C.

national mall washington dc

Washington D.C. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. is the center of a whole lot of industrial happenings, not to mention the federal government’s home base. That means there are a lot of well-paying, meaningful jobs to be had, with some significantly higher incomes than the rest of the country. Of course, stress does come into the picture at some point too.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans | Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

The only city on the list in the South, or even remotely close to the center of the country, New Orleans takes the sixth-place spot in Indeed’s rankings. New Orleans does have its own unique culture, which makes it a destination of sorts for many. That culture also pays off in overall happiness, it would seem.

5. San Francisco, California

Source: iStock

San Francisco, California | iStock

Just up the road from San Jose, San Francisco is another city benefiting from the influx of jobs and wealth into Silicon Valley, located just to the south. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful places in America, and its close proximity to nature, temperate climate, and high average incomes make for a good place to live and work.

4. Providence, Rhode Island

Source: iStock

Providence, Rhode Island | iStock

Providence is often overlooked, getting lost in the shadows of Boston and New York City. But it’s located on a prime piece of real estate, close to those two cities and more, as well as many beautiful natural areas. Don’t be surprised to see Providence become a popular destination for businesses and workers over coming years.

3. San Diego, California

San Diego at night

San Diego, California | iStock

It’s really hard to beat San Diego. California’s second-biggest city sure doesn’t feel like it, as San Diego can really be described as one of America’s premiere places to live and work. The weather couldn’t be more perfect, the beaches are pristine, and the economy is strong – supported with a big military presence, and port.

2. Miami, Florida

Source: iStock

Miami, Florida | iStock

You’d be happy too if you lived in Miami, where life resembles a Jay-Z music video. Well, maybe not for everybody – but workers in Miami are extremely satisfied. Miami is yet another city in a very warm, tropical climate with plenty of opportunities for recreation and sight-seeing.

1. Los Angeles, California


Los Angeles, California | Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

“As for Los Angeles,” Indeed’s brief says, “not only does it come out top, but the best-reviewed jobs reveal a diverse mix that undercuts the stereotype of the city as a place obsessed with superficial glamor. The happiest job is ‘personal assistant,’ while roles such as  ‘creative director,’ ‘production assistant’ and ‘teaching assistant’ also rank highly.”

L.A. gets a tough rap from a lot of people, but a ton of people flock there from all over the country. It’s a huge city, with lots of opportunity and connections to be made. For those reasons (and more), Los Angeles is home to America’s happiest workers.

Check out Indeed’s complete Job Happiness Index for more.

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