Fortune released their 100 best companies to work for survey last month and the winner was a company that not everybody would have heard of, SAS. Not the airline which is better known but the privately owned software company in North Carolina.
If thinking about cool tech companies to work for, most people would think of high-profile Google but SAS beats Google by 3 places and in fact Google modeled their people policies on the older SAS (founded 1976).
Besides being privately held, there are a couple of other peculiarities about SAS such as the founder CEO who has been the CEO since he founded the company and still enjoys huge respect in the industry.
106,000 pieces of art, a hotel on campus (equivalent to a Four Seasons) hotel, masseurs and a day hospital for day-to-day medical visits all make up the uniqueness the company. Another peculiarity is the average weekly work hours which are 35, well below the minimum 60 hour work weeks in Silicon Value. Jim Goodnight, a programmer himself, understands that after 7 or 8 hours it’s hard to stay productive.
The company has always had a no layoff policy although people can get fired for poor performance. Talking about GE and Jack Welch, Goodnight disputes Welch’s claim that he fired the lowest 10% of GE staff each year. “He said that in his book but I don’t believe he ever did it… you would end up with a hugely unmotivated staff and it would cost a fortune to fire that many people every year”, says Goodnight.
You can view a detailed interview with Dr. Jim Goodnight and Rich Karlgaard the Publisher of Forbes Magazine recorded in November 2009. The Fortune article announcing the 100 best companies gives more details and lists the other companies.