These 15 Companies Know How to Keep Employees Happy

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These 15 Companies Know How to Keep Employees Happy

By Ashley Bell, originally published on SnackNation

how to keep employees happy

Some companies just know how to keep employees happy.

You should be jealous of them. Research (and common sense) shows that happy employees work harder, work better, and work for you longer. Keeping your employees happy gives you more than just warm fuzzies; it bolsters your bottom line.

Jealousy aside, you can benefit from what other companies know about keeping employees happy. Unlike proprietary recipes or classified algorithms, you can steal these effective ways to keep your team happier.

Ready to be inspired? Here are takeaways from 15 down-to-earth companies that know how to keep employees happy.


1. Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

How they keep employees happy: setting culture “rules”

how to keep employees happy

Robert W. Baird & Co. boasts repeat placement on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.How does the financial services company do it? By weaving associate happiness into every aspect of their business. You’ll even find it prioritized in their mission statement:


To provide the best financial advice and service to our clients and be the best place to work for our associates.

But Chairman, President, and CEO Paul Purcell has an even more concrete rule to guide employee behavior which he likes to call the “no asshole rule.” The rule boils down to employees treating their co-workers with honesty and respect at all times…even if they’re grumpy. It turns out this simple rule breeds an office full of happy employees.

2. Bucketfeet

How they keep employees happy: feeding curiosity

how to keep employees happy

Photo belongs to John Keane via Flickr

Nothing invigorates a typical workday like learning something new…and relevant. Bucketfeet feeds its employees’ appetites for knowledge with a monthly learning series on topics relevant to their mission. The perspective of guest speakers keeps creativity thriving and employees inspired. It’s like attending the most inspirational session at a conference every single month…and with no travel necessary.

3. Cole’s Salon and Spa

How they keep employees happy: giving them ownership


Cole’s uses an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) to help employees get, and stay, invested in the business. Through the plan, Cole’s employees own a whopping 44% of the company. The salon’s employee happiness rate and low turnaround proves employee ownership vital to every kind of business. When employee feel invested, they don’t just walk away.

4. 2U

How they keep employees happy: by working hard, and playing hard

how to keep employees happy

Photo provided by 2U

High employee ratings on landed this education technology company on theWashington Post’s Top Workplaces 2015 list. 2U offers the usual menu of employee happiness offerings from holiday parties to casual clothes.

They shine above other companies by encouraging employees to make their own fun instead of waiting for company-sponsored events. This lead to a popular office basketball league. 2U also has an amazing annual company meeting where they send their entire company to Disney World.

5. Epic

How they keep employees happy: taking team building seriously

Photo belongs to Moyen Brenn via Flickr

Photo belongs to Moyen Brenn via Flickr

For most companies, team building involves a trip to a baseball game or maybe an all-day winery outing if you’re lucky. Epic takes team building much further (literally) with the “Epic Odyssey.” They send teams to other countries to soak up culture in ways that inform their business and build team skills in unexpected ways. Additionally, they offer a four-week paid sabbatical program that has taken employees to New Zealand, Tanzania, and Germany.

6. Qualcomm

How they keep employees happy: being flexible… and meaning it

how to keep employees happy

Photo belongs to Diego Andres via Flickr

Many companies tout flexible work options, but prove stiff when push comes to shove. Qualcomm doesn’t just offer its employees flexibility, it makes sure employees have plenty of flexible options to fit any schedule like telecommuting, compressed weeks, and job sharing. Compressed weeks let employees load up on hours to get one day a week off and job sharing frees up time by letting two employees split the work load of one full-time job.

It pays off! According to a’s analysis, Qualcomm enjoyed one of the biggest jumps in employee happiness year over year when compared to other companies.

7. AnswerLab

How they keep employees happy: offering unique allowances

Photo belongs to 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

Photo belongs to 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

Since AnswerLab focuses on digital experiences, they want to attract employees who know tech, use tech, and presumably love tech. Knowing that a love for tech motivates their employees, they offer a $400 tech allowance for employees to spend on whatever they want from devices to apps. They find it a small price to pay for learning, which they consider one of the four buckets (career, learning, wellness, and giving back) of employee happiness.

8. Institute for Integrative Nutrition

How they keep employees happy: keeping them fueled with the good stuff

Photo belongs to US Army Africa via Flickr

Photo belongs to US Army Africa via Flickr

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) goes beyond teaching employees what they should eat for wellness – they deliver it on a silver platter! All employees get a free, chef-prepared lunch every day, not to mention healthy breakfasts and snacks. And since they clearly value an integrative approach to health, they also offer free vitamin supplements and on-site massages, acupuncture, and chiropractic care.

9. Miller Auto Plaza, St. Cloud

How they keep employees happy: encouraging community involvement

Photo belongs to North Charleston via Flickr

Photo belongs to North Charleston via Flickr

Community philanthropy landed Miller Auto Plaza onto the Minnesota Star Tribune’s Top Workplaces list. From highway clean ups to food drives, Miller Auto Plaza and its employees have been involved with it all. The philanthropic focus provides a sense of well-being and fulfillment that keeps Miller’s employees happy.

10. Weebly

How they keep employees happy: considering convenience


Don’t take it personally when your employees beeline towards the door at the end of the day. They probably love their jobs, they just have stuff to do at home. Weebly hopped onto Greatist’s Healthiest Companies to Work For list by thinking about everything employees have to do at home…after work. They offer home cleaning and concierge services so employees’ thoughts aren’t plagued by chores they need to complete.

11. FullContact

How they keep employees happy: making vacation impossible to refuse


Business leaders everywhere extol the regenerative powers of taking vacation. The problem? It’s never really a convenient time for a break, so people put off vacation until it’s lost. FullContact makes sure employees recharge their brains by offering a vacation incentive of $7,500. Employees can only use it for vacation and they’re not allowed to check work emails while they’re on it.

12. MediaMath

How they keep employees happy: fostering autonomy


MediaMath’s employees spoke up to land them on Glassdoor’s Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For list. The company realized long ago that employee happiness runs deeper than the beer fridge. They’ve found that keeping employees happy means giving them some power. They build loose team structures so roles aren’t rigid and have even let employees re-write their own job descriptions.

13. Bain & Company

How they keep employees happy: promoting equality

Photo belongs to Sharon Mattheson-McCutcheon via Flickr

Photo belongs to Sharon Mattheson-McCutcheon via Flickr

Bain & Company has landed on so many top workplaces lists, you can bet they know how to keep employees happy. Bain & Co shines especially in rankings of equality. The Human Right’s Campaign gave it 100% on their corporate equality index. It also topped Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list for its flexible work schedules, assistance for new parents, and programs designed to advance women. Equality breeds respect, and respect breeds happiness.

14. Grasshopper

How they keep employees happy: using limited resources well

Photo belongs to Ginny via Flickr

Photo belongs to Ginny via Flickr

Happiest employee lists often highlight companies with expensive initiatives. Onsite gyms, pools, and tracks? Sure, all of those fitness options would make anyone happy.

What if you don’t have the resources for things like that? A list of companies with incredible employee perks featured Grasshopper, a company with no onsite gym. Instead, they have a Wii Room where employees can exercise virtually. The games still get employees’ heart rates up and release endorphins without breaking the bank.

15. Killer Infographics

How they keep employees happy: making it easy for them to speak up


Photo belongs to Gary Knight via Flickr

Killer Infographics knows what happens when employees can’t or don’t speak up about what’s bothering them: festering and inevitable explosions of anger. Even having “open doors” doesn’t mean that all employees will speak up. Some are too shy or they’re just too uncomfortable to voice their frustrations.

So, instead of the usual “open door” policies, Killer Infographics actively encourages employees to speak up using TinyPulse, a workplace survey tool. This gives everyone a chance to be heard, even if they’re not outgoing.


With so much food for thought on the topic of how to keep employees happy, you might feel a bit overwhelmed when you imagine actually implementing anything. Many employee happiness strategies spring from years of observation, discussion, and analysis of company culture.

SnackNation helps companies promote happiness around the office by delivering healthy snacks.

Snacks make employees feel appreciated and keep productivity up as they avoid the sugar crashes and food comas that come from eating junk food. To start helping your team feel even happier at work, take them up on their offer for a free sample box of SnackNation (just cover S&H).  

Do you know of other companies that know how to keep employees happy? Comment below to give them a shout-out!

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