Tech Company Job Satisfaction Led by LinkedIn: People Like to Work for Successful Companies

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Research firm PayScale issued a report based on queries of tech company employees about, among other things, job satisfaction. The results largely confirm the old belief that people are happier working for successful companies and less satisfied working for ones perceived as troubled. Who does not want to work for a winner?

At the top of the PayScale’s list of winners is professional network company LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), which recently went public. It has distinguished itself from other tech IPOs launched in the past year because Wall St. believes LinkedIn actually has a business. Institutional investors are much less certain that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN), say, have operations that are sustainable, at least when double-digit percentage growth is the benchmark. And LinkedIn’s shares are up more than 50% over the course of the past year. Facebook and Groupon are both in trouble, as far as investors are concerned.

LinkedIn gets a job satisfaction score of 100. To put that in context, the lowest rating among the 21 companies mentioned in the report is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ). HP has lurched from disaster to disaster since it bought Compaq in 2002 after a bloody boardroom battle. HP’s employee satisfaction rating in the PayScale study was 58. It is amazing that the number is not much lower. Coincidentally, HP’s shares are more than 40% lower over the past year.

The survey included some real surprises. The biggest one was that Apple’s rating (NASDAQ: AAPL) was so low. It had a an employee satisfaction rating of 78, which is lower than Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) 80. Apple has been the darling of the tech world since the launch of the iPhone. But the minions at Apple may not be happy at all. The New York Times recently ran a front page piece about how poorly Apple’s retail rank and file are paid.

Other surprises in the survey are that Nokia (NYSE: NOK) did so well and IBM (NYSE: IBM) did so poorly. Nokia has come about as close to extinction as a large consumer electronics company can get. Yet the handset company has an employee satisfaction rating of 74.

IBM’s rating is 64, despite its impressive success over the past several years. The reason its rating may be so poor is that it has lowered the size of its U.S. workforce and moved tens of thousand of jobs overseas. IBM is an exception to the successful company equals satisfied employee rule. People who work at successful corporations but fear for their jobs view their circumstances as troubled.

Douglas A. McIntyre