What a Great Place to Work

Just recently, SAS -- the sponsor of this site -- scored the top ranking on the "World's Best Multinational Workplaces" list from Great Place to Work. What's the secret to earning a spot in the Global Top 25 list?

If you ask Jim Davis, senior VP and CMO for SAS, it all comes down to one thing. And guess what? It's not about the data. It's about people, he explained in a blog post.

"We talk a lot about the importance of data as an asset, but employees are an important asset too," Davis wrote. In fact, he added, SAS CEO Jim Goodnight "has been famously quoted to say, '95 percent of my assets drive out the gate every evening.' "

It's a compelling line, isn't it?

In his post, Davis stated an obvious but often overlooked reality. It's a shame, he noted, "that more companies can't realize the benefits of cultivating the relationship between the company and the employee. We all spend a lot of time talking about how employees should treat customers well, but what about how the company treats employees?"

Analytics can improve an organization -- but only to the extent that it has the people in place to understand, use, and drive the data to create better performance.

Great Place to Work, the company that sponsors the competition, seems to understand this. The global human resources consulting, research, and training firm specializing in organizational trust ranks companies in 45 countries on six continents.

Robert Levering, co-founder of Great Place to Work, defines a great place to work as "one in which you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with."

What a top ranking on the Great Place to Work index really means is that a company cares about the work environment and cares about its employees. And that can pay off in data that even the most analytics-driven company can appreciate. Consider these facts:

On average, returning companies on the World's Best Workplaces list increased their revenue by 9% this year. Moreover, great workplaces are good for the economy as a whole: over the past 12 months, these 25 companies created 120,000 new jobs globally.

Accordingly, these companies excel at attracting and retaining top talent. Indeed, the number of applications the 25 companies receive is, on average, 11 times the number of employees that they have. Furthermore, voluntary turnover at 15 of the 25 companies was at 8 percent per annum, compared with the all industry average in the United States of 9.1%, according to CompData Service.

In addition, there is a high level of trust between employees and the companies on the top 25 list.

For the top five companies on the list -- SAS, Google, NetApp, Kimberly-Clark, and Microsoft -- employee survey scores increased by an average of 5 percent.

Global Top 25 list

The essence of a Great Workplace seems to span cultures and boundaries. For instance, Liselotte Jensen, deputy director of the Great Place to Work Institute Denmark, noted at an award ceremony in Copenhagen a few weeks ago that the Best Workplaces there have better rates of return than other companies in Denmark. "That's not surprising," she said. "Employees who thrive in their workplace are simply more motivated and it helps to create increased revenue and growth."

Worldwide, the good places to work have lower absenteeism and lower employee turnover -- data worth noting! But the more you dig into the data, the more something very human becomes apparent: Namely, the defining attribute of a great workplace is good management.

The companies on the list, like SAS, have clear strategic objectives, define goals for each employee, and invest in developing their employees. The data may drive results, but the people drive the data.

Do you agree? Can you cite other examples of companies that could be viewed as Great Places to Work?

Noreen Seebacher,

Noreen Seebacher, the Community Editor of Investor Uprising, has been a business journalist for more than 20 years. A New York City based writer and editor, she has worked for numerous print and online publications. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, New York’s Daily News, The Detroit News, and the Pittsburgh Press. She co-edited five newsletters for Real Estate Media’s GlobeSt.com and served as the site's technology editor.

She also championed the commercial real estate beat at The Journal News, a Gannett publication in suburban New York City, and co-founded a Website focused on personal finance. Through her own company, Stasa Media, Noreen has produced reports, whitepapers, and internal publications for a number of Fortune 500 clients. When she's not writing, editing, or Web surfing, she relaxes in an 1875 Victorian with her husband and their five kids, four formerly homeless cats, and a dog.

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Re: Environment vs Economics
  • 11/29/2012 1:33:46 PM

Noreen I would vote for flexible sheduling! I never liked the free coffee it was always burnt! I did work at acompnay that offered 10 minute chair massage on Fridays--you paid for it but it was a nice little treat! They also had pep boys come out for oil changes on site.



Re: Environment vs Economics
  • 11/29/2012 8:55:27 AM

What are the top five perks you would like to see an employer offer, in order of preference?

For instance:

1) Easy accessible pantry areas with free coffee and tea 

2) Corporate cafeteria offering quality food at break-even prices

3) Flexible scheduling

4) Privacy rooms for occassional personal phone calls, brief naps, etc

5) Opportunities to participate, as a company, in charitable activities

Re: The people piece
  • 11/29/2012 2:37:49 AM

Congratulations to SAS on being voted one of the great places to work, I can easily understand that from the SAS Blogs that appear regularly on AllAnalytics.   

Really great minds, really great people, easy to see why it is a great place to work !

Environment vs Economics
  • 11/28/2012 11:51:16 PM

I do think the environment plays an important part in t in the productivity and quality of work of employees. Sadly though, I think a lot of companies put the quality of the environment on the back burner in the recent becoming downturn when labor became cheaper and more readily available, there was less importance placed on the environment and its impact on employees. I remember the days of the original dot com boom and the amazing work environments I visited in San Fran with onsite day care, free beverages, gourmet cafeterias, sate of the art gyms with relaxed dress, and pet flexibility. I think those are mostly gone.

Re: The people piece
  • 11/28/2012 7:13:23 PM

I noted there are no players from the banks on that list. Is it that bad working at the likes of Barclays i wonder. Nothing to compare to Google though i guess. Google has excelled in people managemnet and human resource development. maybe its because the owners were young people who understand what it means to want a life but be stopped by work.

Re: The people piece
  • 11/27/2012 4:21:02 PM

Pierre, vendors tend to adapt their level of enthusiasm to that of the internal staff. It can truly be said that they are an extension and reflect the reality of the company culture. Having been a contractor most of my working years, I can say that the employees of an account set the tone for me.

Re: The people piece
  • 11/27/2012 3:08:55 PM

I find the figure of participating vendors interesting.  It implies that to be a great place to work, your vendors need to be on the same page to ensure productivity and the gains resultant remain in a shared environment.  It's hard to have a great work environment if vendors you speak to on a daily basis are not equally "yolked" in developing communications and decisions shared from data analysis.

Re: The people piece
  • 11/27/2012 2:11:56 PM

I agree, the best places I have ever worked it was always because of the people.

The people piece
  • 11/27/2012 12:07:29 PM

Noreen, thanks for sharing this good news on SAS. I couldn't agree more that the people make the place!