How to cultivate a World's Best Workplace culture


SAS employees having fun on campusSAS has always focused on the employee experience, and it’s been a part of our founder’s philosophy since day one. It may sound cliché today, but when we started this trend over 40 years ago, others noticed. Jim Goodnight, our founder and CEO has always said, “If you treat people as if they make a difference, they will make a difference.” Earlier this month, SAS once again ranked in the top 10 on  the World's Best Workplaces list showing that this philosophy is still true today.

We empower our people and provide a world-class work experience because it’s the right thing to do for our employees, but it also makes business sense. The way we treat our employees, is the way they’ll treat our customers, and Dr. Goodnight believes at the most basic level - we exist to help others. That’s why, at SAS, we’re here to help each other, so that we can in turn help our customers and be by their side to solve tough business problems. We exist for everyone who is trying to make the world a better place by empowering and inspiring with the most trusted analytics.

So, what is it that makes our analytics software so amazing? It’s really the people behind our product. Dr. Goodnight - a developer himself - understands that creative people love a challenge. They like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from solving a problem — whether technical, artistic, social or logistical. He knows creativity doesn’t happen on command and that knowledge workers need to be able to use their curiosity to innovate.

How does curiosity fuel innovation at SAS?

Innovation is at the heart of who we are and what we do. It’s what keeps us moving forward, always asking, “What if?” Dr. Goodnight developed a unique approach for cultivating innovation many years ago and it still drives us forward today. He wrote about it with co-author, Richard Florida, in a Harvard Business Review article called Managing for Creativity. Here, he talks about how we believe in helping employees do their best work by keeping them intellectually engaged and by removing distractions. We give our people the tools they need to do their work and provide them with resources to integrate work and life.

Brainstorming at the Social Innovation SummitYou know that ever growing to-do list that’s always on your mind? Things like getting your children to school on time, your parents’ health, or your regular “life maintenance” list like getting groceries for dinner? We want our people to enjoy what they do at work, as much as they enjoy their life outside of work, and to have the flexibility to integrate their work and life. We know happy, healthy people have a passion for life, and bring that energy to work.

That’s why we offer a multitude of programs and services all over the world that help our people tackle life challenges, so that they can come back to work and invest their time and energy in being curious, asking big questions, and sparking innovative answers. We also believe it is our leaders’ responsibility to provide employees with meaningful work and to help put that work into context. Everyone wants to understand the relevance of what they do and feel they are making a difference no matter what their role is. When people feel truly cared for, it creates loyalty and the enthusiasm to do their best work.

Innovation is also coming up with new ideas and then bringing them to life – anticipating what your customers might need before they ask for it. That takes creativity and passion. I’m fortunate to see first-hand how passionate our employees are about what they do, whether it’s using our solutions to detect fraud or help doctors provide better solutions to patients — our technology touches the world every day, and we’re proud of the work we do. And finally, we engage customers as creative partners because we know that the process of listening to our customers also leads to innovation.

We’re never done innovating at SAS. We’re always looking ahead, while staying true to who we are. SAS is transforming as we continue to help others by embracing emerging technologies such as AI, cloud and open source to empower everyone to innovate with analytics.

Great analytics. Great workplace.

There’s no doubt that SAS is a special place. We have amazingly talented people,SAS is among the top 10 2019 World's Best Workplaces the best analytics technology and great customers. We pioneered analytics technology, and we pioneered workplace culture. We’re proud to be recognized as one of 12 Great Place to Work Legends who have been on the list for over 20 years and as a Fortune Top 10 World’s Best Workplace.

We paved the way for progressive benefits like subsidized child care, on-site primary healthcare services, fitness facilities and wellness counseling. But it goes deeper than the benefits, because a ping pong table doesn’t make a company a great place to work. It’s our unique culture of trust, flexibility and our values that allows me and my coworkers to work when we feel most creative and fit work into our lives - not the other way around. I can take a 7 a.m. conference call with Europe from my home and then go into the office to brainstorm with the people who have my back. Then I’m able to flex my schedule to leave earlier in the afternoon if I have something to check off my own “life maintenance” list - all without ever feeling like I have to punch a clock.

What I value the most is that our culture acts as a support system and family. Some of us have experienced tragic life events, myself included, and this unique culture is unlike anything I have experienced or can begin to put into words. Not only do you have the flexibility to deal with life’s circumstances, but you have the support of your extended SAS family in every way.

In this competitive talent market, opportunity is always knocking. We are not only in a competitive industry where our customers have choices, but our employees do too. But it’s difficult to find a culture like SAS. Ask some of your friends about their work experiences. Do they feel a true connection to the culture, and have a genuine passion for their projects, customers, and the people they work with every day? While many companies are trying to reverse engineer their culture to keep employees happy, healthy and engaged, we’ve been doing it all along. And we’ll continue to make this a priority. Because here, your curiosity matters – and when you join us, you can be a part of something extraordinary.

My experience is that we all want to protect our culture and the drive that's made us great all along. We want to continue making this company a great workplace for each other and continue creating the best software for our customers. Because no matter what area of the company we work in, our passion and curiosity fuels our work, drives innovation, and ignites our collective creativity.

Are you ready to make SAS a part of your story?


About Author

Jenn Mann

Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Jenn Mann leads a global HR organization that acts as stewards of the SAS culture and engages a diverse workforce of more than 14,000 employees. She's responsible for developing and guiding SAS’ talent management philosophy, as well as articulating the organization’s strategy for acquiring, developing, rewarding and retaining the best talent.


  1. Well articulated, Jenn!
    It takes a village to raise a child; It takes a committed workforce to cultivate world's great workplaces!
    Proud to be here!

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