Detroit, the Bronx and Sacramento may not be the first places that come to mind when you think about where you’d be happiest—but it turns out those three cities are where some of the nation’s most contented young professionals are, according to online career site Careerbliss.com.
Its list of the 20 happiest cities for young professionals is based on analysis from thousands of employee generated reviews between 2010 and 2011. Young professionals, defined by CareerBliss as employees with less than 10 years’ experience in a full-time position, were asked to rate eight factors that affect workplace happiness, including growth opportunities, compensation, benefits, work-life balance, career advancement, senior management, job security and whether they would recommend their employer others.
They valued each factor on a five-point scale, and also indicated how important it was to their overall happiness at work. The numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each respondent, and then sorted by location to find which cities had the happiest workers.
“In our research, CareerBliss found that young professionals take career happiness very seriously,” says the company’s chief executive, Heidi Golledge. “Typically, they will continue to keep their résumé active on job boards just in case something more fulfilling comes along, and they are typically two to three times more likely than their parents to jump jobs for more career happiness. In short, they take the right to pursuit happiness to heart and will typically not stay at a job with poor conditions for very long, and they will even relocate to get out of an unhappy work environment.”
If you’re looking to move to a happier place, you might consider Redmond, Wash.
Heading the list of the cities with the happiest young professionals, Redmond earned an overall score of 3.835. Workers there expressed the most optimism in the Benefits category, which scored 4.260.
The city, located just east of Seattle, is best known as the home of the tech giant Microsoft—which could be responsible for making so many employees in the area happy.
“In terms of young professionals, Redmond features a large number of technology jobs, partly due to the location of Microsoft,” says CareerBliss chief technology officer Matt Miller. “Microsoft’s outstanding benefits ranking, as well as its status as a company its employees would recommend to others, helps elevate its ranking. We also found that Redmond ranked No. 1 in compensation for young professionals, which is very important for those starting out in the work force.”
Things are also sunny for young workers in Florida. Fort Lauderdale and Orlando round out the top three cities, with overall scores of 3.665 and 3.635, respectively.
Elsewhere on the list are Detroit and the Bronx. “The CareerBliss data showed that young professionals in Detroit enjoyed their work-life balance and the opportunity to work at companies they would recommend to others,” Golledge says. “However, job security in Detroit lowered their overall score and kept Detroit from the top spot. Many young professionals who were hit hard by the recession are moving to locations such as the Bronx and Detroit to get jobs and start building their résumés, and they are finding once they are there that the larger companies there have something to offer, and they end up staying with those companies for longer than expected.”
It is not always a generous paycheck that keeps the young workforce in one place. Experience can be just as important, if not more, as it can help to fast track their career path.
“We find that salary may rate lower for a young professional who is willing to take less money for a chance to grow their career and gain experience. They see this as more important to their long-term career success,” Golledge says. “In our data, we see that work-life balance, quality senior management and career advancement opportunities are very important to young professionals looking to grow in their respective fields. We have also seen a shift recently with young professionals who in the last few years have wanted to work at a company that has more than simply a money focus. A company that has philanthropic aspirations and a good work life balance seems to be able to draw the best talent from the young professional candidate pool.”
“The CareerBliss Top 20 Happiest Cities for Young Professionals offers employees and employers a chance to see what truly creates a happy work environment for young professionals,” Miller says.