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Happy employees = happy shareholders, study finds

A happy workplace culture apparently translates into better stock returns.

A new research study found that employees who genuinely like coming to work every day may have a positive impact on a company's stock performance. Now, the big question is: Does the opposite hold true as well?

Do companies with unhappy employees exhibit poor financial performance? The answer, the report finds, is yes, indeed.

Robert Daly | Getty Images

Employee sentiment is an increasingly valuable factor that investors are using to determine the health and amount of risk that may be associated with a company's financial future.

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This new report from Glassdoor Research, "Does Company Culture Pay Off?," explores the trends and correlations between company culture and stock performance of public companies.

"Based on our multiyear analyses, we find a meaningful economic link between intangible company assets, such as employee satisfaction and broader stock market performance, among publicly held companies," said Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor's chief economist and author of the report, in a prepared statement.

"Like any financial asset, a satisfied and engaged workforce is a highly valuable attribute of companies," he said. "Since companies infrequently release internal survey data to investors, public sources of information, like company reviews and third-party 'best of' lists, are proving to be valuable predictive tools of financial performance."

The report analyzed the correlation between company culture and stock price performance using some of the largest public companies named on its inaugural list of the 50 best companies to work for, first released in 2009.

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Stocks of public companies on the inaugural 2009 Glassdoor list were bought in 2009 and held through 2014. This portfolio of companies with high employee satisfaction returned 243.3 percent versus the return of 121 percent during the same period.

(Check out Glassdoor's 2015 list of the top 50 companies to work for.)

Additionally, the study looked at 30 publicly traded companies with the lowest overall company ratings. They were evaluated for stock returns. The report shows companies that are lower rated from an employee perspective significantly underperform the market.

Between 2009 and 2014, the S&P 500 earned a return of 121 percent. By contrast, a ratings-weighted portfolio of low-rated companies earned just 91.5 percent, underperforming the S&P 500 by 29.5 percent.

"This provides further evidence of an economic link between employee satisfaction and company financial performance," Chamberlain said.

—By Jim Pavia, CNBC senior editor at large

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