If asked to name some of the country’s most desirable employers, you’d probably list off names like Zappos or Google – innovative employers that frequently gain media attention for their focus on workplace happiness. However, who did Google turn to when building their Googleplex campus? SAS – a North Carolina-based software company that many people outside of the software industry still haven’t heard of.
Despite possessing one of the most outstanding employer reputations and making it to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For every year for more than ten years (during which they snagged the number one spot numerous times), for the most part, SAS hasn’t received loads of press attention. But what makes SAS so special?
SAS’ 300-acre compound is like something out of a dream for many of us. For one, it touts a 66,000 square foot recreation and fitness center where employees have unfettered access to a billiards hall, sauna, weight room, gymnasium, hair salon, among other perks. There’s also a massage parlor that offers everything from Swedish massage to myofascial release. Best of all – employees can pay for such services (which are already priced low) with pre-tax dollars.
Elsewhere on the grounds, you’ll find a car detailer, UPS depot, solar farm, meditation garden, book exchange, dry cleaning services, and not one, but two subsidized daycare centers. They even offer their employees three cafeterias serving up a wide array of colorful meals! For a vast majority of the workforce, it’s almost an unfathomable work environment. Which prompts the question: why? What could possibly make a company go to such extreme and generous lengths for its employees?
CEO Jim Goodnight has a philosophy that’s as straightforward as they come: treat employees like they’re making a difference… and they will.
Touting more than $3 billion in annual worldwide revenue, the results are clear. Not only does SAS have happy, productive employees, but they’re top talent that actually sticks around. With an average tenure of more than 10 years, their turnover is less than one-tenth the standard rate for the software industry – 2 – 3% vs. the industry average of 22%!
Jenn Mann, SAS Vice President of Human Resources, describes the full circle effect as such: “At SAS, our goal is to offer meaningful work for our employees, an empowering management philosophy and a world-class work environment that includes services and benefits to make employees’ lives easier at work and in their personal lives. This allows them to be motivated, creative and innovative in our software development.”
In other words, SAS provides their employees with endless perks, and in return, their employees give SAS an unwavering commitment that delivers great products. It’s a very holistic approach – and one that’s a dramatically naturalistic juxtaposition to Goodnight’s more systematic, data-driven mind, but there’s no arguing its efficacy.
As endless innovation and creativity have transpired into commodities of their own and as the nature of the economy prompts recruiters to again vie relentlessly for top talent, companies that wish to thrive need to begin more effectively fulfilling their employees on both personal and professional levels. However, they cannot do so under pretenses of duress. Rather, like the culture indoctrinated by Goodnight himself, it must be as natural a philosophy to adopt as common sense. Think I’m kidding? The numbers will prove it.
To learn more about SAS, check out this feature on 60 Minutes: