Get a Work-Life Balance: You Can at These Top-Rated Companies

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As if the overall economy lately hasn't been grim enough, our personal economic lives have grown grimmer in some ways, too: We're working too hard, and our lives often feel out of balance.

Work life balanceOn average, Americans are working 11 more hours per week than they did in the 1970s. Among men and women in professional and managerial positions, a whopping 38% of men and 14% of women work 50 hours or more per week. Making matters worse, the average American income, adjusted for inflation, has declined by 13% since the 1970s.

"Americans report sharply higher levels of work-family conflict than do citizens of other industrialized countries," says The Center for American Progress. "[F]ully 90% of American mothers and 95% of American fathers report work-family conflict."

Does Your Employer Encourage Work-Life Balance?

Fortunately, the situation isn't grim everywhere. A recent study from the Society of Human Resource Management found that 24% of organizations have a formal work-life balance policy in place, and 52% have an informal one.

Such policies most commonly discourage working when sick or on vacation, or working more than a set number of hours per week. Many also discourage workers from answering emails and returning calls during their off-time.

For working parents and those with other dependents to care for or other responsibilities in their lives, having flexible hours or the ability to work from home some or all of the time is another valuable contributor to work-life balance. Unfortunately, according to the SHRM report, only about 10% of companies with balance policies address flexible work arrangements.

Best Companies for a Balanced Life

The folks at the jobs and career community have released their second annual list of the Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance. Here are some noteworthy companies on the list:

Top Companies for Work-Life Balance
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Get a Work-Life Balance: You Can at These Top-Rated Companies

Rated No. 1 overall for offering its employees the best work-life balance, MITRE is a non-profit company specializing in systems engineering, information technology, operational concepts, and enterprise modernization. Its employees have raved that, "Work-life balance is very real and everyone is encouraged to take time off and keep their work hours under control." And, "MITRE walks the talk in work life balance. We work with smart respectful colleagues. We have flex hours and good benefits." In the career section of the company website[S1] , it notes, front and center, that, “MITRE also provides flexibility in the workplace by offering benefit programs like the Flexible Work Arrangement Program and Paid Time Off Bank. These programs help employees navigate successfully between their responsibilities to home life and their professional responsibilities at work.”

Rated No. 4 overall for offering its employees the best work-life balance, SAS is a business software specialist, and is one of nine companies making the list for two years in a row. On its website[S2] , the company notes that, “SAS has created an environment that fosters and encourages the integration of the company's business objectives with employees' personal needs.” Its employees have commented, “"SAS offers countless benefits (not just health insurance) like aquatic center, onsite childcare, subsidized meals at the onsite cafes, gym, and list goes on and on and on." And, "SAS is very thoughtful in looking at ways to improve your work/life experience."

Rated No. 8 overall for offering its employees the best work-life balance, social network LinkedIn (LNKD) is in the business of connecting professionals with each other and employers with prospective employees. The company tends to workers’ minds and bodies with benefits [S3] such as educational and inspirational speakers, yoga, and “plenty of organic fruit.” A recruiter at the company has said, “I love the workout sessions and work-life balance that is encouraged.”

Rated No. 9 overall for offering its employees the best work-life balance, FactSet Research Systems (FDS) provides financial data to the investment industry. Its website’s career nook explains [S4] that, "Our company's culture attracts and nurtures employees who want to help out and kick back." Employees have commented: "Excellent benefits and extremely flexible scheduling (i.e., if you need to work at home, take time for a medical appointment). Length of work week is extremely reasonable (40-45 hrs. per week typically)."  "Work-life balance is the best in the industry."

Rated No. 12 overall for offering its employees the best work-life balance, Orbitz (OWW) is a travel specialist with a page [S5] on its website entirely dedicated to its work-life balance commitment, noting that, “We work on the leading edge. But we also find time to connect with each other,” and listing a host of employee interest groups centered, for example, around biking, parenting, martial arts, Nintendo gaming, and gay-lesbian-bi-transgender issues. Employees have praised it saying, "Very open on flexible working -- as I have a young family, that counts for a lot." And "Work from home perks are really nice, where managers are supportive and open to work from home."

Rated No. 22 overall for offering its employees the best work-life balance, the company once headed [S6] by Mitt Romney is a key player in the management consulting business, known for generous compensation but also very demanding hours. One worker noted that, "Work-life balance -- obviously consulting stinks but at least Bain tried (weekly health checks, meetings on how to make life better)." Bain offers [S7] part-time and job-sharing options, and even sabbaticals and leaves.

Facebook (FB) is notable for being one of the companies that dropped off the list in 2012. It held the No. 7 spot in 2011. Facebook maintained a high score, though, and would likely make a list of top 50 companies. At, an employee in 2010 summarized [S8] a bunch of benefits of working there: "Never go hungry, always have clean clothes, … management focused on employee satisfaction, … flexibility in work hours." With the company now public, many employees are likely far richer than they were in 2010, too.


Motley Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of LinkedIn, but she holds no other position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of LinkedIn and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of LinkedIn, Facebook, and FactSet Research Systems.

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