A better work-life balance is up there with a higher salary and a more fulfilling role in the list of things most employees crave. Gone are the days when many white collar workers were happy to show up at 8am, leave after 7pm and spend their evenings glued to a Blackberry.
But it’s a difficult thing for employers to get right. Letting people work flexibly can be a morale booster but the absence of fixed office hours can also leave workers with a feeling of always being on, meaning they can struggle to relax. Granting staff ‘unlimited’ paid holiday often means they will take less than they otherwise would, no longer feeling entitled to take their explicitly stated 25-30 per year.
Job site Glassdoor reckons it has found the 20 British companies that are doing it best. It's ranked them based on their work-life balance rating from UK employees that have posted a review of their company in the past year. Here’s the full list, and what some of their workers had to say:
20. Google. Work-Life Balance Rating: 4.0
Work-life balance for the search giant’s employees seems to vary heavily by role. ‘Work/Life Balance is a myth,’ wrote one employee. ‘In the end you are a small part in a huge machine where no one really cares.’
19. Rolls Royce: 4.0
'Good work-life balance, everyone leaves work by five.'
18. BAE Systems UK: 4.0
The defence company’s ‘focus is shifting more to flexible working patterns for both 'white' and 'blue' collar staff,’ said one worker.
17. Unilever: 4.0
'Great work life balance, ability to work remotely, get to work on some of the industry's biggest brands, great access to resources.'
16. Yell: 4.0
‘Work life balance is very good. Working from home is an option which can be really helpful.’
15. Rank Group: 4.0
'Management like to promote work/life balance, often suggesting I "go home" if I'm still working past 5.30.'
14. Mott MacDonald: 4.0
‘The work/life balance is pretty good however you do have to actively manage your workload or else it can quickly get out of control.’
13. TeacherActive: 4.0
'TeacherActive is a very sociable, forward-thinking, supportive and exciting company to work for. People here are genuinely interested in and care about others’ well-being, progress and success.'
12. Screwfix: 4.0
'Work-life balance is achievable working in Screwfix, the shop manager actually does everything that everyone else does. The job role is laid back as long as you get the work done.'
11. Procter & Gamble: 4.0
The FMCG giant scored highly but it’s apparently not a view shared by all workers: ‘Work/life balance is touted but not a reality for most middle managers. How can it be with 6 a.m. or midnight conference calls with colleagues in Singapore!’
10. Thomson Reuters: 4.0
'Very respectful, flexible and great learning ground for professional and personal development.'
9. Royal London: 4.1
'A clear focus on personal development and leadership comes from the top down supported by training and tools; all with the aim of creating a motivated, progressive and engaged workforce. While it has been existence for a very long time, the vibe is that of a young, energetic and caring business with a fantastic future ahead of it.'
8. Financial Conduct Authority: 4.1
'There is a much better work/life balance than in industry - as a former consultant, my hours were 07:00 to 19:00; here, my hours are more like 08:00 to 17:00.'
7. ARM: 4.1
Britain’s Most Admired Company has a ‘Significant focus on employee happiness, wellfare, diversity and inclusion,’ said one member of staff.
6. Cisco Systems: 4.1
'Amazing innovative people and huge ideas and opportunity to act on them. The flexibility and work life balance is great as long as you take advantage of the PTO (paid time off).'
5. Peninsula: 4.1
'Supportive management, role variety, great incentives, flexible working conditions - which have improved greatly over the past couple of years.'
4. HomeServe: 4.2
The Walsall-based home emergency insurance firm ‘Really live their values,’ said one worker. 'The Preston office is friendly and really has a family feel to it. The facilities are good and the flexibility is great,’ said another.
3. American Express: 4.2
‘Pros: Work Life balance in most teams (except crunch times),’ said one worker. ‘[We] get to leave early every last Friday each month.’
2. Lookers: 4.2
'There is a real push for progress at the moment and ambitions far further than best in the industry.
Current focus on investment in people is really clear to see with some progressive benefit offers and forward thinking training and development initiatives.'
1. Expedia: 4.3
‘Great environment where the management wants to improve and everyone has a [say],’ said one employee. ‘People are very supportive and they do a lot to keep their employees happy from flexibility on working hours to remote work etc’.