Forget free food. To keep workers happy, and productive, some employers encourage a balanced lifestyle—honoring flexible work policies and offering generous vacation time and sabbaticals. Others try to create a fun work environment or make the office more livable with fitness centers and even on-site child-care services. The jobs site Glassdoor’s 2012 ranking of the top companies for work-life balance is based on a survey of 385,000 employees in the past 12 months. Only companies with more than 500 employees were considered. Herewith, the employers that seem to understand best that work is only one of their employees' many priorities:

Photograph by Jennie Ross/Gallery Stock

Forget free food. To keep workers happy, and productive, some employers encourage a balanced lifestyle—honoring flexible work policies and offering generous vacation time and sabbaticals. Others try to create a fun work environment or make the office more livable with fitness centers and even on-site child-care services. The jobs site Glassdoor’s 2012 ranking of the top companies for work-life balance is based on a survey of 385,000 employees in the past 12 months. Only companies with more than 500 employees were considered. Herewith, the employers that seem to understand best that work is only one of their employees' many priorities:

Photograph by Jennie Ross/Gallery Stock

Best Employers for Work-Life Balance 2012

Firms That Understand Work-Life
Firms That Understand Work-Life

Forget free food. To keep workers happy, and productive, some employers encourage a balanced lifestyle—honoring flexible work policies and offering generous vacation time and sabbaticals. Others try to create a fun work environment or make the office more livable with fitness centers and even on-site child-care services. The jobs site Glassdoor’s 2012 ranking of the top companies for work-life balance is based on a survey of 385,000 employees in the past 12 months. Only companies with more than 500 employees were considered. Herewith, the employers that seem to understand best that work is only one of their employees' many priorities:

Photograph by Jennie Ross/Gallery Stock
No. 15 Slalom Consulting
No. 15 Slalom Consulting

Widely recognized for its positive work environment, tech consulting firm Slalom also was named the No. 1 midsize employer in Oregon this year by Oregon Business, which pointed out such benefits as a four-week paid sabbatical after three years on the job, a cash bonus tenure program, $2,000 per year for external training, an annual summer retreat, and regular social events.

Courtesy Slalom Consulting
No. 14 SIG Susquehanna
No. 14 SIG Susquehanna

Among the many perks at trading firm SIG: food, beverages, and snacks all day, medical help at on-site wellness centers, on-site gyms, dry cleaning and tailoring services, and even car repair and maintenance, according to the company, which is based in suburban Philadelphia. Workers can wear jeans and sneakers normally and shorts during the summer.

Photograph by Richard Newstead
No. 13 Novell
No. 13 Novell

“Novell has a great culture and facilities (on-site fitness center, cafeteria, credit union, etc.) in Provo, Utah, and offers a flexible work environment,” one employee wrote of the software company on Glassdoor.com.

Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg
No. 12 Orbitz
No. 12 Orbitz

One of the best things about working at Orbitz (OWW) : enviable travel discounts. The company, boasting a young culture, was named a best Gen Y employer in Chicago by Brill Street & Co. and has employee clubs that include the Xbox 360 Owners & Martial Arts Group.

Photograph by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
No. 11 Rackspace Hosting
No. 11 Rackspace Hosting

Rackspace (RAX) employees, or “Rackers,” as they call themselves, have an on-site fitness center, a learning program called Rackspace University, and a friendly working environment. The San Antonio company tries to build a fun culture with activities such as dodgeball tournaments, water slides, and parties.

Photograph by Noah Berger/Bloomberg
No. 10 United Space Alliance
No. 10 United Space Alliance

Working at Houston's United Space Alliance, which designs and develops space exploration products, gets you a good health plan, employee assistance programs, company activities, paid gym memberships, and flexible working programs that free up time for family, according to reviews on Glassdoor.com.

Photograph by Rex Features/AP Images
No. 9 FactSet
No. 9 FactSet

Financial data company FactSet Research Systems (FDS) organizes activities from sports and Scrabble to food drives and fundraisers. “FactSetters” also get free working lunch in the office, beverages and snacks all day, gym discounts, on-site massage and acupuncture, and confidential counseling services, according to the Norwalk (Conn.) company. New hires start with three weeks of vacation.

Photograph by Image Source
No. 8 LinkedIn
No. 8 LinkedIn

An ice cream freezer, free meals and snacks, an on-site gym, and shuttle from San Francisco are only a few of the benefits of working at LinkedIn (LNKD) in Mountain View, Calif. The company also has maintained a startup culture and has quick promotion cycles, reviewers point out.

Photograph by Paul Sakuma/AP Photo
No. 7 National Instruments
No. 7 National Instruments

National Instruments (NATI) in Austin, Tex., provides workers with tuition assistance for approved degree plans, an on-site, 24-7 fitness center, wellness programs, and a full health center staffed with a physician, nurses, and support staff. Employees also get 10 paid holidays and two weeks of paid vacation, according to company materials. Among the applications of NI products: controlling hydraulic systems on remote-operated vehicle on the ocean floor, as pictured.

Photograph Courtesy National Instruments
No. 6 REI
No. 6 REI

Outdoorsy culture is vital at Recreational Equipment Inc. (better known as REI), and the headquarters in Kent, Wash., organizes such lunchtime activities as bike rides, frisbee, running, yoga, and basketball. Employees receive 50 percent discounts on REI gear and trips discounted up to 30 percent, according to REI.

Matt Peyton/AP Images for REI
No. 5 CareerBuilder
No. 5 CareerBuilder

“We believe in having a life outside of work,” Chicago's CareerBuilder states on its jobs page. “Flexible work arrangements, education reimbursement, and half-day Fridays in the summer are just some of the perks our employees enjoy.”

Photograph by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images
No. 4 SAS
No. 4 SAS

SAS employees at the Cary (N.C.) headquarters get three weeks vacation per year, flexible working schedules, subsidized on-site child-care centers (with subsidized child care in regional offices), on-site summer camp for school age children, and on-site fitness and health centers.

Courtesy SAS
No. 3 Agilent Technologies
No. 3 Agilent Technologies

Agilent (A), a measurement technology company in Santa Clara, Calif., offers workers flexible time off and flexible work hours. It also provides an employee assistance program for confidential counseling, limited legal and financial assistance, and referral assistance for child and elder-care services (pdf).

Photograph by Amit Kumar/The India Today Group/Getty Images
No. 2 North Highland
No. 2 North Highland

Atlanta consultancy North Highland says that after gaining a certain amount of experience, consultants earn greater say about their assignments and travel, so their lifestyle “doesn’t include living out of hotel rooms and using a BlackBerry to stay in touch with family.” Employees also get such benefits as three to four weeks of vacation per year and tuition reimbursement.

Courtesy North Highlands
No. 1 Mitre Corp.
No. 1 Mitre Corp.

Certain Mitre locations maintain on-site fitness centers, locker rooms, outdoor recreation areas, health fairs, ergonomic evaluations, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. Employees of the not-for-profit organization, which manages federal research-and-development facilities, also receive as many as 23 days paid time off annually, eight holidays, and up to eight weeks sabbatical after seven years of service.

Courtesy Mitre