Talent Management Spotlight: Working at SAS Institute

SAS Institute, a private company with headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, has frequently been named as one of the best places to work by Fortune and other media outlets.

Here’s what Fortune said about SAS Institute when ranking it number four on the list of the top 100 companies to work for in 2015:

Jim Goodnight, former statistics professor at North Carolina State, founded SAS in 1976 and is still a visible presence on the lush campus of this analytics software company. A team of 37 landscapers plant more than 3,800 flowers every year — and they are direct employees of SAS, not contractors. As such, they enjoy generous benefits, everything from onsite childcare, health and fitness centers, a pharmacy, and subsidized meals.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.02.53 AMSAS is a company focused on developing analytics software. The software is used to manage and analyze data. A few quick statistics about SAS: It was, as mentioned above, founded by James Goodnight who’s now ranked as one of the wealthiest people in the country. It’s made Fortune’s list of great places to work for 18 years, and in 2014 had a revenue of $3.1 billion.

In addition to Fortune’s list, SAS was also recognized as a 2015 Best Place to Work for Recent Grads by Symplicity Corporation. Reasons SAS was selected for the list include a work environment that provides inspiration and energy to employees and young professionals. SAS was also honored for creating opportunities for young people to continue to learn while moving ahead in their careers.

“SAS is thrilled to receive this recognition and is excited about what the next generation brings to our company,” said SAS Vice President of Human Resources, Jenn Mann, “They are highly intelligent, creative problem solvers, who love to co-create – a great fit for us!”

With 6647 U.S. employees last year, the company was also able to add 193 full-time employees.

Many analysts and reporters point to what they see as a correlation between the performance of SAS and the happy employees. For more than 27 years, the company has enjoyed record earning levels, making it an example for the concept that a happy workplace is also a successful one.

The Emotional Component

Emotionality isn’t something that’s often praised in the workplace, but that’s just what SAS and founder Dr. Jim Goodnight says is a crucial part of the talent management strategy.

During an interview with Fast Company, Dr. Goodnight pointed out the fact that respect and a sense of putting people and their feelings first are driving components of their success in terms of both talent and revenue.

The idea behind their people-based strategy is that employees are going to respond well when their employer shows them they’re important and have value.

The reporter from Fast Company went on to highlight four tenants of leadership that make SAS a standout:Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.06.53 AM

  • As mentioned above, valuing people above all else, including profit, is necessary. Even in the wake of the Great Recession when many software companies were laying off employees, Dr. Goodnight held a global webcast and said no one would be fired. Goodnight says that by calming fears and rumors circulating among employees, they were able to put the focus back on work.
  • The perks are important too. While SAS may not be as well known as Google by the masses, the Cary location features many of the things people covet on the Google campus. Some of these features include a spacious, modern gym, access to health care providers and free work-life counseling.
  • Trust is essential. Goodnight says he feels employees put their best foot forward in every possible way when there’s a sense of trust with management. This trust is built on concepts of transparent communication and respect. Employees are also given a lot of freedom when they’re at work.
  • The fourth important tenant of Goodnight’s talent management strategy is showing employees how much they matter to the company. Employees need to see the work they’re doing as valuable to take pride. That sense of pride then translates to a higher performance level.

Other Perks

While the overall culture is the primary feature that sets SAS apart, there are also some unique perks available to employees.

  • Child-friendly environment: Children are welcomed onto the campus of SAS Institute. There is an on-site subsidized daycare offered. If you want to have lunch with your children, there’s even a kid-friendly menu in the cafeteria.
  • Compressed work week: While many employees throughout the U.S. are working well in excess of 40 hours, at SAS the work week is officially 37.5 hours. That’s the max number of hours the company expects employees to work. While employees may have to come in on a weekend or stay a little late to finish up a project, they can then take time out on less hectic days. It’s a very flexible work schedule that seems to allow employees to remain happy and to flourish.
  • Get outside errands done on-campus: At SAS you can save yourself time spent running errands and completing regular tasks because so many of the things you need are located on site. You can take a visit to the hair salon, pick up your dry cleaning and even utilize the health clinic and pharmacy all without leaving the SAS campus. The company even arranges for a food truck to bring farmer’s market items straight to employees.
  • Private spaces: While a lot of businesses, particularly software and tech companies, are focused on the communal workplace right now, SAS is doing quite the opposite. Each of the nearly 14,000 employees has their own private office. As an employee, you’re encouraged to have fun and make your space your own.
  • Extracurriculars: You’ll feel like you’ve returned to high school again with the selection of extracurricular sports and activities you can participate in. Take your pick of everything from group exercise classes to competitive sports teams.

So what has led to this evolved and exciting talent management strategy at SAS? One reason many people point to is the fact it’s a private company with no shareholders. While this may hold true, it’s also important to realize this is something Dr. Goodnight has been dedicated to from the start. He and the company have seen tremendous rewards as a result.

October 2, 2015   Updated :October 5, 2015   hr analytics, SAS   

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