Juggling the demands of a career and personal life is no easy feat. In fact, maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle became especially difficult during the recession when employees were expected to do more with less--and even as things improve, the challenges persist.
Job search engine Indeed.com identified 25 of the biggest and brightest corporations that are going the extra mile to help employees achieve the elusive “work-life balance.”
To be considered for the list, each company had to have a minimum of 100 reviews on Indeed.com, and at least 1,000 employees (though most have a workforce that exceeds 10,000). This list excludes franchises, staffing firms, and government companies—but it does include international firms with over 100 jobs in the United States.
“Especially during the summer months, work-life balance is top of mind for employees,” says Mike Steinerd, director of recruiting at Indeed. “While some employees are headed off to enjoy a beach weekend, others have a hard time ignoring work emails [on their days off]. Work-life balance feeds passion for the workplace and contributes to a better overall work environment and morale. When there is a separation of church and state – meaning personal and professional life – employees feel more appreciated. In turn, they are happier, more committed, more productive, and therefore will likely stay with the company for a longer period of time.”
Colgate-Palmolive tops Indeed's list of the 25 best big companies for work-life balance. Founded in 1806, the New York-based consumer products giant currently employs over 35,000 workers.
“Work-life balance is often dependent on efficiency and professionalism; when management and employees are dedicated to their jobs and work hard during business hours, it gives them the flexibility to maintain a healthy personal life,” Steinerd says. “Past and present employees comment on the Colgate-Palmolive employer review page noting that management sets realistic expectations for employees, promotes time management skills and clearly communicates. In addition, Colgate-Palmolive offers some great benefits, such as flexible work hours, telecommute options, and nearby back-up childcare centers, which is a nice perk for work-at-home parents. As a result, Colgate-Palmolive has a high rate of employee retention, which is a testament to their culture.”
Wegmans, a major regional supermarket chain and one of the largest private companies in the U.S., ranks second on the list of the best big companies for work-life balance. Founded in 1916 in Rochester, Wegmans currently operates 81 stores (46 in New York State, 15 in Pennsylvania, 7 in New Jersey, 6 in Virginia, 6 in Maryland and 1 in Massachusetts), and employs over 44,000 people.
“Wegmans is a family-owned business, where management works to make employees feel independent and valuable,” Steinerd explains. “Wegmans has a reputation for working with part-time employees who are still students to create flexible schedules. The typical workday is fun and energetic, and employees develop great relationships with one another, which supports the overall feeling of family.”
Rounding out the top three is Coldwell Banker, one of the oldest residential real estate franchise systems in North America. Founded in San Francisco in 1906, the New Jersey-based company currently employs 82,000 agents worldwide.
“Real estate is a unique industry because employees often have the freedom to create their own hours, and Coldwell Banker is no exception,” Steinerd says. “Employees have characterized the company environment as having a ‘work-hard-play-hard’ type of attitude. For those people who are self-starters and independent workers, this is a great company.”
Steinerd says many of the companies on the list provide flexible work schedules and focus on teamwork. “Overall, the work environments tend to be friendly and the employees are determined to succeed, and there is the right balance of quality and quantity of work to be fulfilling.”
For example, Walt Disney is recognized for their focus on training and team building, as well as the happiness of their employees, Steinerd says. And Google is known for “promoting flexible schedules and personal and professional balance, where employees learn how to manage their time, multitask and collaborate.”
“We’re seeing more and more that work-life balance is playing a key role in how employers are attracting top-talent,” he adds. “Salary isn’t the only factor a potential employee is going to consider when they receive a job offer; they are often doing research on the company culture, looking at employer reviews and chatting with past or current employees. This is a growing trend we are noticing, so it’s important that employers create workplaces that foster work-life balance. This list showcases those companies that, according to previous or current employees, got it right.”
Other big companies that made the list: Johnson & Johnson, Motorola, Ford, and American Express. Here are a few things that those who didn’t make the cut can do to offer their employees better work-life balance:
- Ensure there is adequate vacation coverage, Steinerd says. “Too many employees take vacation but continue to work. Companies can either cross-train employees or ensure that managers within all departments are adequately covering the workload so employees can truly enjoy their vacations.”
- Offer flex-time, such as the ability to come in later or leave earlier to drop kids off or pick them up from daycare or other activities, such a sports practices, he says.
- Help employees work more efficiently, “which in turn prevents them from taking work home, and therefore allows them to enjoy time outside of the office.”
- Offer tuition reimbursement and/or a program that allows employees to take the necessary time off for classes.
- Ensure departments are adequately staffed to prevent employees from becoming overworked, Steinerd says.
- Provide on-site child care or develop programs that allow "new" moms and dads to work part-time (or work share with other employees) during their child's early pre-school years.
- Provide, or increase, paternity leave, he says.
- Offer perks and luxuries like gym memberships and on-site dry cleaning pick-up and delivery services to make your employees’ lives a little bit easier.
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