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Best Workplaces in Technology – Bringing Work-Life Balance to the Forefront

 Best Workplaces in Technology – Bringing Work-Life Balance to the Forefront

Best Workplaces Employee well-being

Technology and work-life balance… one is often blamed for a lack of the other. But at the Best Workplaces in Technology they are proving the two can work together very well. Indeed, factors related to work-life balance are rated very high among employees at the companies on our list making it a key cultural advantage and one that all organizations can emulate.

Work-life balance is a universal pursuit and it goes hand in hand with the push for overall workplace wellness. It is key to self-care and it allows people to bring their best selves to the responsibilities of work and home. When this balance is upset, it zaps energy, contributes to stress, and causes people to disengage. And disengaged people aren’t happy, fulfilled or productive.

Can work-life balance be achieved? Let’s take a look at what the Best Workplaces in Technology are doing to achieve their success and how their employees are responding.

Work-Life Balance and Real Time Off

Not surprising, providing sufficient time off from work is a necessary condition for achieving work-life balance.  

95% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Technology agree:

“I am able to take time off from work when I think it’s necessary.”

In practical terms this means providing the basics like sufficient paid holidays as well as adequate leave time and time off for personal reasons.

A very popular program for promoting work-life balance at the Best Workplaces in Technology is an unlimited vacation policy. These policies typically recognize that outcomes are more important than ‘office time’ and they underscore the trust these organizations have in their employees to get their work done.

At Properly, to promote work-life balance they empower their employees to take vacation when they need it and therefore don't put a cap on the number of days allocated. They know their employees work hard, and it's important that they take time to step back and take a break in order to maintain their mental and personal health, so they foster a culture of completely "disconnecting" when on vacation.

Another feature at many of the tech companies on our list is to provide extra time off and/or generous leave time as a way to encourage time spent away from work on a regular basis. This practice includes personal days, sick days, as well as regular work-free time throughout the year like the days between the Christmas and New Year statutory holidays.

 Bridgit employees enjoy ‘Four Hour Fridays” throughout the year. And at Coconut Software they have a four-day work week (called Cabana Days) where they work regular business hours Monday to Thursday and people are encouraged to take Fridays off to rest, recharge, and do the things that make them happy.

Parental leave top-ups are a common practice at the technology organizations on our list. These policies are very inclusive and extend to supporting spouses and even caregivers, allowing employees to take the time they need to make the transition smooth when welcoming a new family member.

At 7Shifts, they are proud to help their team grow their families. They provide a top-up of maternity/pregnancy/parental benefits for permanent, full-time employees as well as a flexible return-to-work schedule consisting of a three-day work week at full salary for the first month back to work.

Some technology companies are getting creative with their leave time practices and using leave to recognize performance as well as tenure. Getting time off of work is a gift that everyone appreciates!

At AppCentrica they offer a mini-retirement program for employees every three years. This is an extended vacation (six weeks) as well as a bonus to fund their adventure. This offers their people the chance to travel, relax, gain perspective, and recharge. Les Logiciels Kimoby has a similar program where every four years of continuous service, they offer four consecutive weeks of paid time off, in addition to employees’ existing vacation.

Work-Life Balance and Caring For Your People

Ultimately the decision to improve work-life balance for your people comes from a sincere appreciation for what they do and who they are. When you care for people you make decisions that are in their best interests, you use empathy and compassion as your guide versus following a strict policy. The Best Workplaces in Technology understand this balance and their people recognize it:

95% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Technology agree:

“People care about each other here.”

94% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Technology agree:

“My manager shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee.”

This depth of caring leads to practices that have work-life balance at the core because they recognize that people are much more than the jobs they do. Key to this philosophy is a commitment to flexibility and helping people find the right balance for themselves. Here technology is very helpful in terms of providing the collaboration tools necessary to ensure smooth transitions from home to office and places in between.

 ‘Work from Anywhere’ at BrainBox AI allows employees to literally work from anywhere (relative to the needs and deliverables of their team) giving them true autonomy and flexibility and the opportunity to bring a healthy change to their life and a positive outlook for work.

MobSquad has adopted a hybrid approach enabling employees to work remotely or from the office based on their respective preferences. Offices are equipped to promote productivity and ease interaction with teams and clients.  For people choosing to work from home, MobSquad provides a comprehensive suite of tools to facilitate a productive virtual work environment. As part of this they also provide virtual onboarding, care tools for employees’ health and wellbeing, as well as virtual learning tools to promote continued professional development from anywhere.

Organizations on the list also have a wide range of flex and personal day programs that allow people to take time off when they need it without worrying about continuity of pay. This alleviates the financial stress often associated with unexpected time-off needs and encourages people to recognize when they need to take some time away from work.

Genesys facilitates work-life balance with their Open Time Off policy. Starting day one, Genesys employees are able to request and take the vacation or sick time they need without worrying about how many days they have available. When someone needs time away from work, a day to re-energize or take care of personal business, a week or more for a family vacation – they discuss it with their manager, agree to the dates and take the time. It’s that simple.

Cisco Systems Canada Co. offers Critical Time Off (CTO), a program that gives employees paid days off to deal with a sudden, unexpected circumstance that requires their immediate and full attention so they don’t have to use their paid vacation days. Whether an employee is dealing with a death in the family, a loved one’s illness, or even a natural disaster, CTO makes it easy for employees to assess and address the situation without worrying about work.

Work-Life Balance and Work-Related Stress

One of the main impediments to finding work-life balance is simply having too much work. The technology sector is no stranger to a high-stress, intense work environment and the Best Workplaces pay attention to this by ensuring their people have quality time at work as well as outlets for relieving stress.

93% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Technology agree:

“My manager does a good job of assigning tasks and coordinating people.”

94% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Technology agree:

“You can count on people to cooperate.”

92% of employees at the Best Workplaces in Technology agree:

“This is a fun place to work.”

It’s important for employers to be aware of workloads and for team members to be willing to help out as needed so that no one person or department gets overwhelmed. Helping people understand the importance of cooperation and instilling a ‘we are all in it together’ culture is fundamental for everyone achieving the balance they need. As an employer you can put in place practices that help people manage their workloads and find time for concentrated work as well as downtime.

Points has a daily ‘No-Meeting’ zone that ensures people are able to disconnect over the lunch hour. Influitive Corporation has a no meetings on Friday policy.

Sensei Labs ensures their team makes use of modern digital tools to manage their workload and collaborate. They even have a ‘no email’ policy where employees use their internal communication platform and Microsoft Teams to communicate rather than sending unnecessary emails.

At Softchoice their ‘Work. Your Way.’ philosophy establishes the principles of flexibility to balance priorities at work and at home. This includes allocating time for focused work and respecting that other people need to as well; ensuring that meetings are necessary, productive and include the right people; and when work is done, their people recharge and disconnect, and help others do the same.

A discussion of work-life balance isn’t complete without talking about the ways organizations can facilitate and encourage healthy stress relief. This can mean a wide range of programs from employee assistance programs and reimbursement for mental health practitioners to fitness challenges and meditation spaces. Fun and camaraderie play an important role too as activities that bring people together, in and out of office, can have a large impact on balance.

Introhive has a wide range of fun in-office events (happy hours, holiday parties, regular get together, release parties) and their offices are equipped with snacks, fully stocked fridges, board games, and ping pong tables which encourage their people to take breaks and engage with one another to break up the day.

At Pixieset, they value playfulness and deliberately invest in opportunities to foster a fun and positive environment for their diverse team. Each quarter, they plan and invest in key initiatives that are multi-faceted and resonate with everyone including delightful surprises, fun celebrations, educational opportunities, business updates and community service. In addition, they have regular neighbourhood meetups, virtual coffee chats, Friday beer-hours, barbecues, and sporting events always on the go.

Work-life balance is a necessary component of the modern workplace. It allows people the time and space they need to be their best and in turn you get the best from them. Work-life balance is what creates a strong, vibrant, and robust workforce, and whether you offer formal programs or simply have a caring philosophy, what’s most important is that your culture and practices let your people know you care about them, that you are interested in their wellbeing, and that you support their need to rest, relax and recharge regularly.

If you’re not already using the Great Place to Work survey, reach out to us to learn about how we can help you understand factors related to work-life balance and more, and become eligible for one of our Best Workplaces lists.

About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® makes it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Clients apply our insights, advice, and tools to fuel the vision, decisions and actions that drive business performance. 

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Nancy Fonseca
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