Few of us are able—let alone willing—to work for free. But if the need to earn a living is what drives us to work, when it comes to job satisfaction, it’s seldom about the money.
Last month research by Indeed found nearly 9 out of 10 British workers don’t regard salary as the most important thing to look for in a job. Instead most attached far greater importance to a healthy work/life balance. Of course, this means different things to different employees; from a good holiday allowance and sociable working hours through to being able to leave work worries behind at the end of the day.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the employers who are leading the way—creating a league table of those offering their staff the best work/life balance in the country, as scored by the employees themselves.
Based on employer ratings and reviews on Indeed Company Pages, 15 employers were selected—in both the private and public sector—that consistently received the most praise.
Transport for London in the fast lane
The winners came from all sectors and in a range of sizes, demonstrating that offering a good work/life balance is not the exclusive domain of one category of businesses. However, when the numbers were crunched, Transport for London (TfL) emerged as the leader of the pack when it comes to offering the best work/life balance of any UK employer.
The organisation’s 27,000 staff, who work across TfL’s myriad branches from the London Underground to rail, bus and river services, are evidently impressed by the work/life balance on offer at the organization.
Another public sector organisation, the University of Leeds, sits in second spot, just ahead of the world’s most valuable company Apple, the leading performer from the private sector.
While Apple is not the only multinational titan on the list—Kumon, GlaxoSmithKline, Thomson Reuters and American Express all feature—we also see a large number of British companies receiving high ratings, too.
UK success stories include John Lewis, who previously topped our best retailers to work for in 2018 cracking the top ten, alongside Unilever (4th), Jobcentre Plus (8th), Lloyds Banking Group (13th) and Rolls-Royce (15th). Eighteen months ago the aero engine maker ranked top overall in an Indeed survey of the best employers in the country, factoring in not just work/life balance but also salary and perks.
Offering great work/life balance could be a differentiator for employers
It is widely accepted that all workers—and especially millennials—will have to work for longer than previous generations. Equally, Britain’s record high levels of employment mean many employers are fighting an ongoing battle for talent. In order to recruit—and retain— good people, employers may need to think outside of the box and get creative with what they are offering.
While being considerate to staff needs is common sense for employers, our reviews data provides particular insight into what separates a good employer from a great one, showing in detail how those that are getting it right are empowering their staff to find the best balance between work and their private lives.
Who’s the best for work/life balance?
“Every journey matters” according to TfL’s slogan but it is equally clear that every employee matters too, and that they appreciate their employer’s approach in this regard.
The 27,000 staff help oversee more than 31 million journeys across TfL’s network every day, with roads, trains, buses, taxis and waterways all falling under the company’s vast umbrella.
TfL continues to expand and to modernise. The Elizabeth Line will open later this year, while a 24-hour service across some London Underground lines started in late 2016.
While the organisation is committed to “keeping London moving,” its modern and healthy mindset when it comes to its staff sees it leave the rest behind in offering the best work/life balance in the country.
As one employee put it, TfL is “a great company to work for, very flexible with families and always accommodating.”
Employing around 8,000 staff, the Russell Group university outperforms all its peers and ranks second in the whole country for work/life balance.
The academic institution has been running for close to 200 years if you trace it back to its Leeds School of Medicine roots in 1831, and it currently oversees around 25,000 undergraduate and 9,000 postgraduate students, making it the fifth largest university in the UK.
Academically, Leeds certainly boasts a rare level of prestige. It has helped to produce six Nobel laureates, while its alumni range from the political elite such as former Cabinet ministers Jack Straw, Clare Short and Baroness Warsi to musician Mark Knopfler and double Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee.
It is routinely ranked in the top 15 universities in Britain and the top 20 in the world for graduate employability, but it is its own staff who appear to be happiest with the balance in their working lives.
“The pay and work ethic is always of a high and appropriate standard,” says one employee. “…both students and staff are excellent co-workers and there are always plenty of opportunities for shifts.”
The tech titan has grown out of Silicon Valley to become one of the most dominant brands in the world, and the most valuable company on the planet.
A market leader in personal computers, mobile telephones, tablets and other smart technology products and services, Apple’s enormous global reach has clearly not compromised its approach to its staff.
It employs 1,400 people in the UK and is currently developing a new headquarters at Battersea Power Station, with plans to relocate there upon its completion in 2021.
Apple has long defined itself as being one of the most progressive companies in the world when it comes to its products and this extends to how it treats its employees.
One happy employee described their experience with the company in glowing terms: “Everyone in my team cared deeply about the work they do and it brings me great happiness every day to see the things that each of them achieve as they move off into the world.”
The world’s largest consumer goods company has its headquarters split between London and Rotterdam but should be regarded as a British success story.
It owns more than 400 brands and employs around 160,000 people globally, 2,500 of whom are based in the UK. Close to 50% of those in management positions are female.
The company has always prided itself on its integrity and on its pioneering spirit, and on promoting a “people first” mentality across its operations, so it’s unsurprising to see it performing so well in the work/life balance stakes.
Indeed was told by one employee how “work life balance is very strong here and the company holds a very vibrant working culture, with the countless events and activities held.”
The tuition network originated in Japan, but has spread around the world in the last 60 years and now boasts more than 4.5 million enrollments globally.
Focusing on maths and reading among young students, it is the UK’s largest supplementary education provider, while its franchise model allows its staff a high degree of autonomy and flexibility.
With 24,000 centres across 50 countries, Kumon is an international success, and its UK staff could hardly hold it in higher esteem.
Reflecting on their experience working for Kumon, one employee had this to say: “It’s a great place to work when starting in the tutoring industry… it is easy to fit working here within a busy schedule.”