Best Employers for Work-Life Balance in 2010

Best Employers for Work-Life Balance

What company was the best employer for work-life balance in 2010? It depends on whom you ask.

This year, I was surprised to discover the number groups that created their own list of the best employers for work-life balance (and other issues related to it). I wrote about a few of them here at Life Compass over the last year.

10 Best Employers for Work-Life Balance

In February, I wrote about the 10 Best Employers for Work Life Balance, as determined by Fortune Magazine, which ranked SAS as #1. One of the Best Companies for the 13 years Fortune has been counting, SAS boasts a laundry list of benefits — high-quality child care at $410 a month, 90% coverage of the health insurance premium, unlimited sick days, a medical center staffed by four physicians and 10 nurse practitioners (at no cost to employees), a free 66,000-square-foot fitness center and aquatic center, a lending library, and a summer camp for children.

Working Mother Best Companies to Work For

Over the summer, Working Mother released its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, along with the Top 10 Best Companies to Work For.  For 25 years, Working Mother has ranked America’s companies for their family-friendliness and the benefits they provide for working mothers including schedule flexibility, telecommuting and temporary part-time work options, and programs to help women achieve greater work-life balance.  Among the top 10, in alpha order, were:  Bank of America, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, Ernst & Young, General Mills, IBM, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, WellStar Health Systems.

10 Happiest Holiday Retailers

Achieve Your GoalsIn November, I found a list of the 10 Happiest Holiday Retailers from  This report is based on almost 100,000 independent company reviews submitted by visitors to to evaluate levels of current and past employee happiness in the following categories:  growth opportunity, compensation, benefits, work-life balance, career advancement, senior management, job security, and whether the employee would recommend their company to others.  Top company on this list was Costco. I guess this gives me another reason to feel good about being a Costco member!

Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces in America

Also in November (National Adoption Month), the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption announced the Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces in America, This list highlights 100 employers in America that offer the best adoption benefits to their employees.  The rankings are based on the maximum amount of financial aid or reimbursement that is offered, along with the amount of paid time off given to employees when they adopt. The late Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s fast food chain, was a strong advocate for adoption.  Which is one reason why the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption sponsors this list, and presumably why the Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, Inc. is in the #1 position.

Best Practices for an Employer to Promote Work Life Balance

So, what do these top work-life balance companies have in common?  And what can other employers learn from them about promoting work-life balance in their organizations?

As I survey the lists, a couple of things stand out:

  • Flexible scheduling – Allowing employees to work a schedule that suits them best for a particular day, based on their personal needs.  For example, allowing them the ability to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.  Or being able to take time off for personal errands, kids activities, or personal projects.
  • Telecommuting – Giving employees the option to work from home, a coffee shop, or other location outside of the office or workplace. Some companies allow people to do this permanently.  Others allow it once a week, or for special projects.
  • Investment in personal growth and development – Providing funding for an employee to get a degree, attend workshops, complete professional certification programs, or get coaching for both their professional work and personal growth.
  • Concierge Services – Offer employees services that help to simplify their personal life, like on-site child care, cleaning service, shopping service, providing meals, etc.
  • Care – When employees know that their boss genuinely cares about them and is concerned not just about their work performance but their personal life, that translates into goodwill that money can’t buy and carries over into how the employee treats their fellow employees and customers.
  • Fun – Many of these companies provide a “fun” work environment.  This doesn’t mean that things are all fun and games.  But it does mean that people find appropriate times to have fun, and celebrate, while they work.  It could mean allowing employees to wear jeans on Friday (or everyday), or wearing a sports jersey of their favorite team on game day, or holding contests or special events that bring people closer together as a team.

I’m keeping my eyes open for the 2011 lists of the best employers for work-life balance.  Do you think your employer could make the list?  Why or why not?

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