Weekly Wrap: Employees Rank Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance

Glassdoor, the website that encourages employees to give the inside scoop on their companies, has an interesting new survey out on the Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance (2013).

This list, according to Glassdoor, recognizes “the highest rated companies for work-life balance over the past year, entirely based on employee feedback.” To qualify for the rankings, “companies must have at least 50 work-life balance ratings on Glassdoor within the past year and at least 10 the year prior.”

It’s been an interesting year surrounding the issue of work-life balance, with decisions by Yahoo and Best Buy fueling a great deal of debate about the merits of flex work and all manner of flexible workplace practices.

Glassdoor’s data finds that, overall, “the average work-life balance rating has dropped from a 3.5 in 2009, to a 3.4 in 2011, to a 3.2 thus far in 2013. (Ratings are based on 5-point scale: 1.0 = very dissatisfied, 5.0 = very satisfied).”

Top 5 companies for work-life balance

2012-07-19 GDR-Top25_Work-Life_2012-OptAThis would seem to indicate that in the larger scheme of things, employees are less satisfied with what their organizations are doing when it comes to work-life issues. That’s a little surprising to me, given how big the discussion about work-life balance and flexible work arrangements has gotten, but perhaps someone else has a better analysis of why these Glassdoor number seem to be moving in the wrong direction.

At any rate, here are the Top 5 companies on Glassdoor’s third-annual Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance list:

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  1. SAS Institute (work-life balance rating: 4.5)
  2. National Instruments (work-life balance rating: 4.3)
  3. Slalom Consulting (work-life balance rating: 4.1)
  4. MITRE (work-life balance rating: 4.1)
  5. Orbitz Worldwide (work-life balance rating: 4.1)

Glassdoor also notes that there are 11 companies “cracking the  the Top 25 for work-life balance for the first time in this year’s report, including Yahoo (No. 16; work-life balance rating: 4.0), MasterCard (No. 18, 3.9) and NetApp (No. 25, 3.9).

What’s interesting about this is Yahoo’s inclusion on this Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance list, particularly given the controversy this year when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer decided to eliminate flexible work arrangements at the struggling Silicon Valley company starting July 1. Read into that what you will, because frankly, I really don’t know what to make of it.

This list is all based on employee rankings, and given the volume of those that Glassdoor gets, this is probably about as reliable a way as any to measure the “best” workplaces for work-life balance. And if you have a better way of measuring this, or a better survey to point to, I’d love to hear about it.

Of course, there’s more than the best companies for work-life balance in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Your worst employee nightmare. The Wall Street Journal wrote this week about how “a resentful subordinate can create havoc in your work life by bad-mouthing you, concealing critical information or excluding you from meetings. He or she could even get you fired.” They added: “No one tracks the frequency of subversive behavior, which occasionally occurs when an ambitious subordinate fails to land the executive’s job. But revamped organizational structures, the increased popularity of “open door” management and decreased worker loyalty likely have exacerbated the problem lately, career experts suggest. “The lines of authority are not clear. People have more than one boss, and there are cross-functional teams,” says Dee Soder, a New York executive coach. All of which makes it easier to be subversive today. “The people who get hurt by this stuff are not paranoid enough,” warns Joshua Ehrlich, a New York leadership coach.
  • Full employment? We may not see that in the U.S. again. Columnist Robert Samuleson writes in The Washington Post that “We may never — or at least not anytime soon — regain “full employment,” meaning an unemployment rate between, say, 4 percent and 5.5 percent. It is now four years from the recovery’s start, and the number of jobs is still 2.2 million below the pre-recession peak. Since World War II, this has never happened. … Economists are searching for an explanation, and one recent candidate seems surprising: high tech. It’s usually seen as an engine of growth, but the spread of automated processes and robots has actually acted as a drag on job creation and has kept the unemployment rate high (7.6 percent in June), argue Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Digital technologies, they contend, have enabled companies to cut costs, increase productivity (i.e., efficiency), improve profits and slash payrolls. They expect more of the same.”
  • Why does everyone suck at job interviews? Fast Company magazine says that job interviews are a “strange ritual” that nobody is good at. So, they give 5 Reasons Why Everyone Sucks at Interviews that points to an earlier New Yorker post on Why Brainteasers Don’t Belong in Job Interviews. Take a read, because I know you’ll find it interesting.
  • Yahoo’s first year under Marissa Mayer. There were lots of reports this week that took a look at new CEO Marissa Mayer’s first year at Yahoo. As both the San Jose Mercury News and The Wall Street Journal point out, the stock price is way up (by 70 percent) even though she hasn’t cracked the company’s big revenue problem just yet. And as The Journal notes, “Ms. Mayer has attracted attention as much for workplace issues as technology.”
  • California SHRM conference coming soon. I’ve never been to the California state SHRM conference, but I think this year I finally will attend my home state’s annual SHRM meeting from Aug. 26-28 at the Anaheim Convention Center. You can go too, if you live in or near the (somewhat tarnished) Golden State, but make sure you register by July 31 so you get in under the deadline.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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