Where are the Happiest Shift Workers in the US?

When businesses use Homebase as their time clock, we ask employees to rate their shift when they clock out. 

We recently analyzed over 6 million shift feedback scores to see if we could find out where and when employees have the best shifts. Homebase time clocks are primarily used by local businesses, so this data reflects the employee happiness of small businesses across the United States.

First, we looked by geography.

What cities have the happiest employees?

For these rankings, we looked at metro areas with over 20,000 shift feedback scores to get an accurate sample. When an employee clocks out at the end of their work day, they’re asked to rate their shift and provide comments to their manager. We considered an employee happy if they rated their shift 4.5 or 5 stars.

Here are the top 10 cities with the happiest shift workers, based on our data:

  1. El Paso, TX
  2. Miami, FL
  3. San Diego, CA
  4. Riverside, CA
  5. Fresno, CA
  6. Orlando, FL
  7. Honolulu, HI
  8. Tampa, FL
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. Charlotte, NC

10. Charlotte, NC

Taking the 10th spot in our list of happiest shift employees, Charlotte is filled with reasons to be happy. Known as an emerging metro area with a melting pot culture, US News, the real estate site that publishes the “Best Places to Live” list annually, ranked the city 20th in this year’s set and described it as “manageable” when it comes to housing prices, living expenses, and even climate. 

US News gave Charlotte a score of 7 out of 10 based on Desirability, Value, Job Market, Quality of Life, and Net Migration. 

9. Memphis, TN

Memphis is the second-largest city in the South after New Orleans and is filled with happy shift workers, according to our research. The city’s cost of living is 17% lower than the national average. Median home and rent prices are even lower. Memphis’s average housing expenses are 34% less than the national average, with a median home price of $228,326 and median rent of $715.25. 

8. Tampa, FL

With its combination of laid-back beach life and metropolitan amenities, the happiness of hourly workers doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. The city also boasts some of the shortest commute times in the state of Florida, with an average time of 18.7 minutes compared to the state’s highest commute in Land O’ Lakes, which has an average commute time of 39.5 minutes.

The average is also much lower than the US average, which is currently sitting at 26.9 minutes. Plus, residents enjoy a cost of living that is 5% lower than the national average. 

7. Honolulu, HI

Workers in Honolulu are paid an average of $26.38 an hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is around 6% above the national average of $24.98. US News described Honolulu as a city that is “regularly identified as one of the country’s happiest places” thanks to its island vibe and diverse culture. 

6. Orlando, FL

As the home to the Happiest Place on Earth, it would make sense that hourly workers are happier. With beautiful weather, a plethora of amusement parks, and plenty of recreation opportunities, there are plenty of mood-boosting activities for residents to enjoy. While the housing cost is slightly higher than the national average, there is no state income tax because the lodging taxes paid by Florida’s 110 million annual visitors makes up for those dollars. 

5. Fresno, CA

Fresno may have high unemployment rates and hot weather, but hourly workers are most likely happy in the city due to its affordability. A 2017 survey found that residents can live comfortably in the city with an annual income of $44,500, which, when compared to the $70,000 you’d need in San Diego and $110,000 in San Francisco, is very low. 

4. Riverside, CA

This Inland Empire city boasts a major public university and relatively affordable housing. According to the awards listed on the city’s website, Riverside is a city with a growing millennial population, a city where “everyone wants to live,” and one of the safest cities in the country. 

3. San Diego, CA

Sunny San Diego is ranked as the 36th Best Place to Live in the U.S. by US News thanks to its high desirability, job market and quality of life scores. The average hourly wage is much higher than the US average as well, with an average rate of $27.93. This is a healthy 12% higher than the national average of $24.98. 

2. Miami, FL

The vibrant metro of Miami is considered to be on its way to becoming one of the largest international business hubs in the world and is a major leader in finance, commerce, culture, and entertainment. In 2019, it ranked 7th in the US in terms of business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement. It boasts the largest urban economy in Florida and the 12th largest in the US. 

1. El Paso, TX

Hourly employees in El Paso are no doubt the happiest in the nation thanks to the affordability of the Texas metropolitan area. In fact, in 2018 Forbes identified the city’s cost of living as the lowest in the country. The cost of living is currently 87.2 based on a US average of 100, the average home sells for $130,700, and the average rent cost is $992, so even though the average hourly wage is 25% below the national average, a little goes a long way in El Paso. 

What industries have the happiest and unhappiest employees?

  1. Beauty and Personal Care
  2. Retail
  3. Restaurants

According to our data, employees in the beauty and personal care industry are the happiest workers, with retail, health care and fitness, and charities, education & membership close behind. 

Beauty and personal care employees rated 82% of their shifts 4.5 or 5 stars. Retail workers rated 78% of their shifts similarly positive, while 75% of restaurant employees rated their shifts positively.

While it’s hard to say for sure, our guess is that beauty and personal care employees probably have more on-the-job socialization with both their customers and their coworkers. 

What company sizes have the happiest and unhappiest employees?

The smallest companies in our study had the happiest employees. Businesses with five employees or fewer had the highest shift satisfaction, with 80% of shifts rated 4.5 or five stars. Most likely, these employees may feel a closer connection to the business owners as well as their customers. 

On the flip side, only 73% of employees at companies with 23 or more employees rated their shifts highly. 

What shifts do workers like the most?

If you want to visit a business when the employees are in their best moods, visit before 12:00pm.

Regardless of the day, employees who clocked out of their shifts at 11am and 12pm rated their shifts the highest, with over 90% of employees giving their shifts 4.5 or five stars. 

Most likely, they’re able to avoid the brunt of a lunch rush, and they still have the bulk of their day ahead of them when they’ve clocked out. 

What day of the year are workers the happiest? The most miserable?

We looked at shift feedback ratings across the 2018 calendar year, mapped against national holidays. 

Christmas Day had the highest shift satisfaction score, with 84% of employees giving their shift 4.5 or five stars. There were probably fewer customers, and the customers that did visit were likely feeling a little more empathetic. 

Strangely, Presidents’ Day had the lowest shift feedback score of any holiday during the year. Customers probably don’t consider Presidents’ Day a major holiday, and those that are working are probably also disappointed that they don’t have the day off. 

So what does this all mean?

On the whole, hourly workers in America are rating their shifts decently well. But there’s certainly room for improvement. 

According to a recent study conducted by The Conference Board, around 54% of surveyed employees reported being satisfied with their job, which is up 3% from last year’s results. However, employees cited being less satisfied with their jobs’ growth potential, which is one of the largest driving factors in job satisfaction.

Furthermore, over 60% of employees said they were unhappy with the recognition practices, performance review process, and communication channels at their business. 

As a customer, what can I do to make sure the people helping me are having a good shift?

There are a lot of ways to make someone feel appreciated, even if you’re their customer: 

  • If it’s tipped work, tip generously. In a lot of places, the minimum wage for employees who are eligible for tips is dramatically lower than even the meager federal minimum wage. 
  • Always remember the golden rule: Treat others how you’d like to be treated yourself. Think about how you’d feel if you were in their shoes and act accordingly. 
  • Did you have an exceptional experience with an employee? Ask to speak to their manager—and tell them what a great job their staff member did. 

As a business owner, how can I ensure the happiness of my employees?

Consider these tactics to empower employees and increase satisfaction with their work and happiness on the job:

  • Implement a policy or practice in place to recognize your employees and validate their success, such as a simple shout out for a job well done. 
  • Create a clear path for success in each role. Encourage employees to grow by providing formal mentoring, rewarding good performance, and encouraging personal growth time (meaning allowing employees to take time to learn new skills) for each staff member. 
  • Maintain an exciting, passionate culture to motivate your team to be happy to come into work every day. Help tighten the bond among employees by planning annual events, or even just weekly trips to a local restaurant to form a sense of belonging. 
  • Create an open environment for communication and feedback. Let your employees know they can come to you to discuss any issues they have and that you are willing to listen and work through the problems.  

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