SAS Institute, National Instruments top list of companies with good work-life balance

More name-brand companies like Yahoo and AOL are also included

Sixteen of the top 25 companies offering a good work-life balance are technology companies, according to a new ranking from the job site Glassdoor, with the SAS Institute and National Instruments leading the pack.

The SAS Institute, which makes business analytics software for industries ranging from casinos to oil and gas providers, occupied the number-one spot on Glassdoor's third annual ranking of the top companies for work-life balance, up from number four last year. National Instruments, which makes automated test equipment and virtual instrumentation software, was ranked second.

Other enterprise IT companies such as Slalom Consulting, Mentor Graphics, FactSet and Agilent Technologies also ranked high on the list. Other companies offering consumer services and products, like Yahoo, AOL, Nokia and MasterCard, were also named.

It is not surprising that SAS topped the list. The Cary, North Carolina-based company provides a dedicated work-life department staffed by eight full-time social workers who provide services to employees, for free, that include support services for child development, aging and elder care, and advising for the college search process.

The department offers 140 work-life consultations per month, on average, the company said. Last year, 5,500 SAS employees, family members and retirees attended nearly 200 seminars and webinars offered by the department.

"It's not just cultural -- we have a team here that's devoted to teaching work-life balance," a company spokeswoman said in an interview. The company's work-life department has been in operation for more than a decade. SAS also offers a summer camp program for children of employees, on the company's main campus in Cary, North Carolina.

SAS ranked fourth on the Glassdoor list last year.

Companies had to have at least 50 approved work-life balance ratings in the past year to be considered, said the online jobs community site, which lets employees write anonymous reviews. More than half a million company reviews were submitted to Glassdoor during the past 12 months, the site said. Work-life balance ratings are based on a five-point scale, with 1 being "very dissatisfied," 3 being "OK" and 5 being "very satisfied."

On the Glassdoor site, employees also filled out a pros and cons section to explain why they gave the rating they did, such as noting that the company offered flexible scheduling, or that their manager understood that they had a life outside of work. This was factored into the rankings, but the list was primarily based on the 1-5 scale, a Glassdoor spokeswoman said.

For Glassdoor's ranking, SAS achieved a work-life balance rating of 4.5 out of a possible 5, while National Instruments scored 4.3. The number three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11 companies on the list, which all achieved the same rating of 4.1, were: Slalom Consulting, MITRE, Orbitz Worldwide, Scottrade, Mentor Graphics, FactSet, Agilent Technologies, Nokia and MathWorks.

National Instruments could not be immediately reached to comment on the ranking. The Austin, Texas-based company, however, does provide a dedicated training professional within each major business function, who works with supervisors and employees to drive development opportunities and career satisfaction, according to the company's website.

Seattle-based Slalom Consulting, which ranked third, touts its local consulting model as a key contributor to its healthy work-life balance. Consultants work only with companies based in the city where they live, removing the stress of being always on the road, said John Tobin, Slalom's co-founder and president, North America.

Yahoo, at number 16, made the list for the first time. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made headlines last year with a change in policy that prevented employees from working from home. But maternity and paternity benefits were recently extended at Yahoo to give mothers four months of paid leave and fathers two months.

Technology's growing ability to keep people connected 24/7 is making it tougher to maintain a healthy work-life balance, a Glassdoor spokeswoman said.

The company's data support that argument -- the average work-life balance rating on the site has dropped from 3.5 in 2009, to a 3.4 in 2011, to a 3.2 thus far in 2013, the spokeswoman said.

Technology giants Apple, Google and Facebook did not make the list.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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