Which companies give you the best work/life balance?

New survey reveals top ten


Work-life balance signpost

Following yesterday's introduction of new employment rules, all workers now have the right to ask their employer for flexible working and to have that request carefully considered.

"It's about time we brought working practices bang up to date with the needs, and choices, of our modern families," said deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. "Today is a crucial milestone in how we can help people balance their family life with work and caring responsibilities."

Some companies, though, have long been offering their staff a better work/life balance. A new survey from job website Indeed.com indicates that tech companies and charities tend to be the best.

"Jobs are no longer just about the 9-5; they play an essential role in people's lives, so it's crucial that they are right for an individual across a broad range of criteria," says David Rudick, Indeed.com's vice president, international markets.

"Beyond work-life balance and flexible working, job culture, security and the team are all essential factors that people take into account when looking for a place to work."

At the top of the list, Google has - literally - made a science out of work-life balance, starting a century-long research study of over 4,000 staff. The company has long promoted flexible working schedules and has famously comfortable and sociable offices.

It recently began an experiment in Ireland whereby staff are expected to leave their work devices at the front desk when they leave the office for the day. "Googlers reported blissful, stressless evenings," says the company's senior VP of people operations Laszlo Bock.

Meanwhile, it's hardly surprising that charities should try and keep their staff as happy as possible. "We encourage sensible and healthy work patterns and offer flexible and practical arrangements allowing for personal circumstances," says the British Heart Foundation.

The British Red Cross aims to be as accommodating as possible to staff that want flexible working, saying it'll consider requests on a case-by-case basis, for example for home working, job share or part-time work.

And Oxfam, too, offers flexible working: core hours, which must be spent in the office, are 10 to 4, with the remainder variable by agreement.

"It is becoming increasingly clear to employers that job seekers are looking beyond financial benefits to find the one job that truly provides the right fit for them," says Rudick. "It's great to see that the companies on our list are already making moves to support these needs and hopefully the new legislation will encourage other employers to follow suit."

Britain's top ten companies for work/life balance
1 Google
3 British Heart Foundation
4 Vale
5 Johnson & Johnson
6 British Red Cross
7 Oxfam
8 Volvo
9 Roche
10 Sony Electronics