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The rise in remote work has not only led to a fundamental change in how we perceive work, but the shift towards hybrid and flexible work has also triggered an increased awareness for employee wellbeing and how to promote it. Topics such as mental health and work-life balance have taken center stage.
Despite the increased flexibility in the way they work, remote workers often report that they struggle to strike a balance between work and life. For instance, research conducted by Statista shows that 25% of remote workers in 2022 say that their biggest struggle with working remotely is not being able to unplug - up from 18% in 2020.
While there are many things companies can do to improve work-life balance in remote teams, there also is an easy way for employees to reduce the chances of feeling stressed and burned out, and that is by choosing a career in an industry that is notoriously pleasant to work in. So, if you’re wondering which industries offer the best work-life balance, here’s a little overview. But first of all, let’s have a quick look at what the best industries for work-life balance have in common.
There are several aspects that make for a healthy work-life balance. First and foremost, finding work-life balance is all about bringing work and personal life into harmony to make sure that work doesn’t rule over freetime, family obligations and more. Finding fulfillment and purpose in both work and personal life is equally important, as is the establishment of clear boundaries between work life and personal time.
When trying to compile a list of the best work-life balance industries, it’s necessary to take into account several different factors. Industries that are employee-friendly and thus provide for a good life-work balance are those with:
Low stress levels
Regular working hours
No high-pressure work environment
Low turnover rates (to be seen as an indicator for a good work-life balance)
Possibility to disconnect after work (instead of employees having to be available at all times)
Flexible working options (including remote work and work from home)
Exciting opportunities for personal development and career growth
Responsibility and purpose (to create personal fulfillment)
Admittedly, money isn’t everything, but relaxing after work and taking a nice holiday is definitely much easier if your job is well paid. Plus, not having to stress about financial security is always a booster for mental wellbeing.
In addition to these objective criteria, there are, of course, many rankings for the best work-life balance jobs and the best work-life balance companies, which can be used as an indicator as to which industries are doing well when it comes to providing good conditions for employees to balance work commitments and family obligations.
Now, without further ado, let’s look at the industries that offer the best work-life balance.
The insurance sector may not be the first one to come to mind when thinking about employee work-life balance, but upon closer inspection, one comes to the conclusion that employees in this sector are actually set up pretty well.
Flexible working hours are pretty common and thanks to technology, even insurance workers can nowadays work remotely. What’s more, being able to make a positive impact on other people’s lives is a sure way to make work meaningful and find purpose in what one does.
Add the expected growth in available jobs and the high level of professional training and development opportunities and things are already looking pretty rosy for insurance workers who, in addition, also tend to have quite a lot of freedom when it comes to organizing their own work.
No wonder that the insurance industry received a 3.6 out of 5 rating in Glassdoor’s “Work-Life Balance in the U.S. during COVID-19” survey, which made it the 5th highest rated industry for work-life balance during the pandemic. And if the low turnover rates are anything to go by, employees seem to be pretty happy in the insurance industry. Zippia found that the finance and insurance sector was among the industries with the lowest turnover rates in the U.S. in 2020 - only beaten by the state and local sector and the government sector.
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The low turnover rates in the public sector (24% in the U.S. in 2020 according to Zippia) are just a mirror image of what is generally perceived as a more relaxed working environment. Employees in the public sector aren’t under the same pressure as those in the private sector, where companies are usually more revenue-driven and under higher pressure to deliver.
Employees working for the government usually don’t have to be afraid of having to put in extra hours either, since cases where matters need to be dealt with urgently are quite rare. In return, public sector employees generally benefit from additional perks and benefits, as well as special workplace policies that specifically address work-life balance, such as flexible working, career breaks and more.
Therefore, employees searching for the least stressful industries to work in should definitely add the public sector to their list.
One of the key tasks of HR is taking care of employee wellbeing in any possible form, be it by offering mental health programs for remote employees or by making sure staff clock off at a reasonable time. It’s also the human resources department that has all the insights into mental health issues and burnout rates in the company - and the resulting staff turnover.
This increased awareness of the importance of a healthy work-life balance is the reason why many HR professionals try to set a good example and practice what they preach in their own lives. Also, in a survey conducted by Glassdoor on behalf of Reboot Digital PR, HR was the industry with the second highest rankings in terms of work-life balance.
The main reason one could consider marketing as a good industry for employees seeking work-life balance is the amount of flexibility it provides. Most marketing professionals only require a laptop and a stable internet connection to do their job, which makes the sector well-suited for remote work and even allows for workations.
In fact, a survey conducted by Balance the Grind AU found that 88% of companies in the field supported flexible work hours and remote work. And research carried out by Emolument showed that 49% of employees working in marketing were satisfied with their work-life balance - 25% even said they had a great life-work balance.
The last industry which should definitely not be missing in any listing of the industries with the best work-life balance is the tech industry. In fact, the tech sector might even be considered to be THE best industry for work-life balance per se, for numerous reasons.
With their knowledge of and access to technology, tech workers are known for always finding a way to make work smarter and decrease their workload through tools, which means they usually get to finish work on time. Plus, jobs in the tech industry are said to be less stressful than those in other sectors, since they typically involve very little to no contact with clients and projects can mostly be managed autonomously.
No wonder 52% of workers in IT & Software Development that were surveyed by Emolument considered their work-life balance to be satisfactory, while 19% even said work-life balance was great in their career. This positive perception is probably also linked to the fact that tech workers generally receive great benefits from their employers - especially since there is a strong demand for tech talent and companies need to offer attractive employee benefits and compensation packages.
Depending on which ranking or survey you go with, you’ll find that the industries that rank as the best for work-life balance differ greatly and that some of the top-rated industries are actually quite a surprise. For instance, other than the tech and insurance industry, the Glassdoor work-life balance survey also saw the real estate and finance industries being among the top ranks.
Considering that these sectors are known for brutal working hours, demanding clients and a lot of hard work and commitment, seeing them listed as top-rated for work-life balance might be astonishing for some. And sectors such as the supply industry for gas and electricity are probably not among the expected candidates for great work-life balance either.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are industries which stand out in terms of work-life balance because working conditions and stress levels are so bad that balancing life and work becomes almost impossible.
Along with the best industries for work-life balance, Glassdoor Economic Research also published a ranking of the 5 lowest rated industries for work-life balance, which are (in this order): retail; restaurant industry; transportation and logistics; arts, entertainment and recreation; manufacturing.
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