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Burning out? Here's the UK's top 20 companies for work life balance

Posted by Jill Cotton

PR and Marketing Manager, EMEA

Last Updated October 20, 2021

‘Work-life balance’ has been a buzzword of the COVID crisis but research by Glassdoor has found that employees are confused by what the term means and are looking to reclaim the phrase for themselves.

To understand current attitudes on the topic, we analysed more than 600,000 reviews from employees across 2021 and identified the top companies for work-life balance in the UK.

Key Findings

  • Tech companies offer the best work-life balance while the hospitality, travel and retail sectors fall short.
  • Burnout is still a big issue with discussion in Glassdoor reviews on the topic increasing 128% since April 2021.
  • Two-thirds of UK workers in full-time employment say that what they want from the balance between work and home has changed since the pandemic began.
  • 7 in 10 think the modern definition of work-life balance is the ability to switch between work and personal activities throughout the day.

No Simple Solution to Work-Life Balance

The research* found there to be no clear consensus between employees in the UK on what is needed to achieve harmony between home and work.  For a third (36%), flexible working hours are key whereas 32% want choice in where they work. A reduction in the working week and generous time off was also popular but there was little consistency across gender, age or other demographic.

With two-thirds (66%) of workers intending to make changes to improve the juggle between home and work in the future, Glassdoor has compiled the top 20 companies from across the UK who have ranked highest for work-life ratings on the site.

20 Highest Ranking UK Companies for Work-Life Balance in 2021

According to research by Glassdoor's Economic Research team, the top 20 UK companies for work-life balance in 2021 are:

Rank Employer Work Life Balance Rating  Industry
1 Office for National Statistics  4.58 Government
2 Softcat 4.48 Tech
3 Arm 4.47 Tech
4 Sky Betting & Gaming 4.46 Tech
5 Mastercard 4.45 Finance
6 Bank of England 4.42 Finance
7 Dell Technologies 4.41 Tech
8 FirstPort 4.39 Real Estate
9 Sage 4.34 Tech 
10 SAP 4.33 Tech
11 Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs  4.32 Government
12 Anglian Water  4.3 Utilities
13 Radius Payment Solutions 4.27 Telecommunications
14 Cisco Systems  4.26 Tech
15 Google 4.24 Tech
16 The Very Group 4.24 Retail
17 Barratt Developments 4.22 Construction
18 Salesforce 4.22 Tech
19 npower 4.21 Utilities
20 Nationwide Building Society 4.19 Finance
Note: Only companies with over 50 work-life balance ratings between January 1, 2021 and September 28, 2021 are included. Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (www.glassdoor.com/research)

All the companies on the list are highly rated for work-life balance due to employee feedback and specific measures the organisation has put into place to combat burnout and allow for a better work life balance. Examples of company policies include:

  • A year-round wellbeing programme at Sky Betting & Gaming including additional days off and an in-house gym
  • Flexible start/finish times and part-time and job share options at Softcat
  • Employees at Arm have access to the workplace mental health app which has bitesize materials and exercises from productivity to sleep stories.
  • A ‘How to thrive’ toolkit from Sage, designed to support employees’ wellbeing
  • The ‘pledge to flex’ from SAP offers 100% flexible and trust-based workplace as the norm, not the exception 

The Industries Getting The Balance Right and Wrong

Tech companies make up nearly half of our top 20 list, largely due to their long-standing approach to flexible working. At the other end of the scale, Glassdoor research found the hospitality, retail and travel sectors have the lowest work-life ratings. These industries have faced a tough time through the pandemic as they were hit hardest by the multiple lockdowns and have been less able to adapt to remote working for employees. However there are many examples within the reviews of employees who have been able to strike a work-life balance that works for them. 

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance

As we’ve seen, there’s no single answer to achieving harmony between your professional and personal lives. So why not try a combination of the below:

  1. Be transparent with your team about burnout and mental health. Leaders can empower employees to feel comfortable speaking up when they’re struggling and should lead by example.
  2. Set boundaries. Plan a firm “end time” on your calendar each day. Scheduling wellbeing activities like dinner with your kids, exercise or meditation can help hold you accountable.
  3. Plan a holiday, or a staycation, and remember to utilise your holiday allocation.

Conclusion

“The companies topping our work-life balance list share one important characteristic: they offer a diverse range of options that allow employees to create a balance that works for them as individuals,” comments Glassdoor’s EMEA Economist Lauren Thomas.

“Mental health continues to be an important discussion for workers but the sharp increase in mentions of burnout across our reviews suggests that companies need to do more to meet the needs of their workforce.  As ‘The Great Resignation’ continues, it's helpful to remember that there are many companies out there that recognise the importance of work-life balance for employees, and Glassdoor can help uncover the companies making a difference.”

Glassdoor Methodology

The list of highest ranking companies was compiled by analysing hundreds of thousands of reviews left by full-time U.K. based employees between 1 January 2021 and 28 September 2021. All companies on the list had at least 50 work-life balance reviews during their period.

Survey Methodology

*This research, undertaken by Censuswide on behalf of Glassdoor, surveyed 2,017 UK employees who work full time between 6th-8th October 2021.

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