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Great Place to Work 2010: A New FR Survey




            Inspired by the release of a national magazine’s list of “Top 100 Companies to Work For,” Flexible Resources wanted to find out what women think makes a great place to work. And here’s what they told us:


Being valued and trusted is what matters most, and trust is what ultimately leads to flexible work arrangements. 


Making the most money didn’t make anyone’s list.


            Flexible Resources, Inc. is a staffing and consulting firm based in Stamford, CT that has for 20 years created flexible work arrangements at the professional level, in all types of companies, from small start-ups to the Fortune 500.


            Flexible Resources says that often companies tout ‘family friendly’ policies but in reality they don’t exist because they are left to the discretion of individual managers with no mandates in place.


            “We have always seen companies that brag about having on-site childcare and liberal maternity leave policies, but on a day-to-day basis they require long hours in the office, with no latitude for flexible hours, job-sharing, or working from home,” says Flexible Resources co-founder Nadine Mockler.


            “So we wanted to obtain the ‘inside story’ of work-life policies, told by the women who work there, not by the HR department.”


            Flexible Resources recently surveyed via email more than 4,000 candidates (nearly all female) and received responses from just over 400, a 10 percent response rate. We asked them:

  • What was the best company you ever worked for, and why?
  • What work/life benefits did they provide that really worked?


            While the types of companies are widely varied, the responses strike a common theme:   What does ‘being valued mean?’


            For most of the respondents, it means being appreciated, being thanked, being trusted. And it appears that trust is the essential ingredient in allowing employees to work flexibly, meaning employees were generally free to work from home or other remote locations, and create their own hours, because these companies placed the highest value on results over face-time.


            Sometimes being appreciated meant as small a gesture as having free coffee and breakfast every day. But nearly all respondents said work-life benefits topped the list.


            “It really seems less about the money these days and more about the balance and benefits, especially with the high percentage of both parents working,” one woman said.


            Some of the responses were based on past work experiences, and in some cases, the circumstances at the particular company may have changed.

            Here are some of our findings:

  • Bristol Myers-Squibb – “A true 9-to-5 job even with both parents in senior positions, paid maternity leave, and on-site childcare were cited;
  • Pepperidge Farm – A contract worker there told us: “The people around me appreciated what I did and told me so. The employees seemed happy to be there and had regular contact and dialog with upper management.”


Another respondent cited Pepperidge Farm “they truly valued the work output and quality over hours logged at the office and showed a profound interest about improving us as professionals.

  • Unilever – Women with ‘a fair amount of responsibility’ were allowed to work three/four day work weeks, and work from home.  And Sun Products – a Unilever spin-off—has extended those benefits by allowing women to continue their careers “in a position that does not require five full days in the office.”
  • At a retail sales position at a major women’s clothing brand, one woman told us that despite making close to minimum wage she still loved her job because it gave her the flexibility she needed to continue her freelance writing;
  • Proctor & Gamble – “Allowed telecommuting following maternity leave and ability to leave early when necessary.”
  • Pepsi – Work from home, flexible hours, and an on-site gym
  • Deloitte & Touche – Cited as “cutting edge” in work-life balance
  • Liz Claiborne – One former employee and a new mom gets almost melancholy when citing here benefits here like 3 months’ paid maternity leave, generous sick pay and vacations and emergency child care services.


Small companies included:

  • HRH Construction – When interviewing for a position here, the candidate reported that during her interview she told the company about here 3 pre-school children and the HR person offered a flexible work arrangement right on the spot.
  • Hoffman Education – The company’s current managing director cites an “entrepreneurial environment” for permitting her to work a part-time flexible position that enables her to also handle additional consulting projects on the side.