Keeping Employees Without Breaking the Bank
With unemployment at or near an all-time low in the Silicon Valley--some Silicon Valley professionals have been circulating jokes around the water cooler that the only way to measure high tech unemployment is to count people in their cars on their way from one job to the next--the SAS Institute really stands out for its ability to attract and hold its employees. The average rate of employee turnover per annum in Silicon Valley companies is 25 percent, though SAS boasts a turnover of less than four percent. How do they do it?
SAS, the largest privately held software company in the world ($1 billion in annual sales), believes in working from the ground up to keep its employees happy. The company employs very few external contractors and very few part-time staff, so there is a strong sense of teamwork throughout the organization. Most of the people who work there work there full-time. They feel that their time investment is worthwhile, and that the investment is one that is shared by almost all of their co-workers. And, while it may seem surprising at first glance, SAS does not provide stock options or exorbitant bonuses to any of its employees. The company views these types of benefits as bribes.
Instead of outside and part-time contracting, and in lieu of heavy bonuses, SAS has turned to some less tangible--in terms of paychecks, at least--benefits to keep its employees happy. The company offers on-site daycare, a full indemnity health insurance plan to all full-time employees, state-of-the-art equipment and technologies, and on-site recreational facilities. What's more, SAS works every day to engender a feeling of trust and respect among all employees and leaders, and actively seeks opportunities to provide challenging work for teams and individuals. The company acknowledges that employees' home lives are separate from their work lives, and even strives to help them achieve this all-important separation. Looking for proof? In an industry that is famous for cots in offices, SAS offers a 35-hour workweek.
SAS believes that "being nice is good business." It seems that they're right--the organization estimates that low turnover saves $70 million each year in employee replacement costs. They've even won awards from the Employee Services Management Association for their employee-centered programs.
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