work life balance

Actually, let’s just lead with the top 15:

1. Keller Williams Realty
2. Coldwell Banker
3. Cisco
4. Kaiser Permanente
5. Google
6. Capital One
7. Century 21
9. Northrop Grumman
10. Pfizer Inc.
11. American Express
12. Fidelity Investments
13. Dell
14. Lockheed Martin
15. Johnson & Johnson

Whoa, the top two are real estate firms?

Makes sense.

Real estate agents work no set schedule, generally-speaking. You can argue this two ways: either they have limited work-life balance because they’re “always on the clock” or, conversely, they were doing work-life balance before work-life balance was a hot buzzword.

If you know any real estate agents, chances are you realize it’s the latter.

Work-life balance isn’t some hot new trend for companies to embrace. It’s been around for generations. And, per Towers Watson research, it’s actually the third-most strategic move companies can make.

So what does Keller Williams do specifically?

With about 900 offices and 139,000 agents around the world, Keller Williams is the largest real estate franchise by agent count. The company is known for its profit-sharing system, its focus on training and the work/life balance employees are able to achieve.

“As an individual contractor you determine your work day,” says one employee, who also comments on the company’s training programs. “Each day offers learning and continuing education about culture and opportunities.”

“There is complete flexibility in your schedule and unlimited earnings potential,” adds another agent.

How about Coldwell Banker?

Coldwell Banker has more than 90,000 agents worldwide and boasts a strong record of social responsibility.

And in a world where employees are increasingly expected to stay connected at all hours, this company bucks the trend.

One employee describes working for Coldwell Banker as “not the type of work you need to take home with you.” She adds, “if real estate isn’t your passion it won’t drain you of your desire to pursue whatever is.”

“One of the things that I like about working here is flexibility,” another employee adds. “I get the chance to work from home at least once a week. And that makes a difference.”

It does make a difference.

Shouldn’t tech firms be higher in these results? Ball pits? 

Tech firms don’t have the monopoly on work/life balance programs, but they do often create innovative solutions to support employees.

Third-place Cisco offers flexible work, a “fun fund” to support celebrations and entertaining activities. Not only that, but birthdays are a day off for employees.

Fifth-place Google (ever heard of them?) provides new mothers with paid leave of up to 22 weeks; fathers and adoptive parents receive between 7-12 weeks.

How can companies get better at work-life balance?

It requires this thought flow:

  • We hire people and pay them some money that we’d probably rather keep for our bonuses.
  • These people have lives outside of this place and need to attend to those.
  • The goal of work at the most basic level is productive achievement of goals.
  • Because people are different, those goals will take different amounts of time to achieve for each person.
  • If a person can achieve their goals in 10 hours as opposed to 40 and wants those extra hours for him/herself, that’s fine.
  • Why is that fine? Because the goals were achieved, and that was the point. The point wasn’t making sure he/she was around the next 30 hours.

In short, it’s about how work is contextualized and tracked.

And it’s about caring about people.

72M ratings and reviews can’t be wrong, right?

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]