For years now, SAS, the Cary, North Carolina-based tech company, has made pretty much every list of best places in the universe to work. So it got us thinking, what's really so great about this place? We would take it as a given that SAS -- the world's leading business analytics software vendor -- offers a nice paycheck and first-class medical, dental, and vision care for the whole family, but surely there must be some other reasons they consistently wind up as the company with the lowest turnover rate in the tech sector (and voted best place to work in IT by ComputerWorld.) Sure enough, we found them: The not-your-every-day-variety of benefits (we don't just mean free Gatorade) that make a difference. Here are some of our favorite perks they offer because, as we know, it's the little things that count:
1) The subsidized cafeteria includes a kids' menu with hot dogs shaped like octopuses.
SAS encourages parents to have lunch with their kids. The children are walked over from the on-site subsidized day care that is also offered. Eating lunch with your kids helps workers stay connected to them during the work day. Plus the kiddos get to see where mom and dad go every day, because they go too. As for the hot dogs shaped like octopuses, we are told the cafeteria takes the extra step to splay the ends and create the octopus look. Presentation matters, you know.
As for those employees who would prefer not sharing lunch with the little ankle-biters, there are plenty of other dining options. SAS has four on-site subsidized gourmet cafes, coffee bars that serve Starbucks; there's a free breakfast every Friday, and fresh fruit is delivered to all break rooms on Mondays. There are free snack and drink stations on every floor. The cafes also cater and can whip up a nice last-minute birthday cake to take home to your room-mate.
2) Can you count to 37.5? That's the maximum number of hours SAS wants you to work in a week.
SAS is big on work-life balance and puts its money where its time clock is. It is staffed to a level so that people aren't routinely working late or long. Sure things come up and you might have to work on the occasional weekend, but just adjust your schedule and keep it to 37.5. Flex time rules.
3) You don't have to lie in order to go watch your kid in the school play.
It's OK to just get up from your desk and go. Really. SAS trusts that you'll get the job done. So employees can skip the part where they have to get a worried look on their face and say the school nurse just called and they must split ASAP, so sorry. SAS believes its employees will be more relaxed and happier knowing they are also being good parents, and that they will get the job done. The attitude about trusting employees comes from the top. SAS founder and CEO Jim Goodnight is said to have had one of those icky jobs as a teenager where the bosses were mean and distrustful. He based the model for the privately-held SAS on letting workers know they are valued and trusted -- and "to treat employees as if they make a difference." Does it work? Let's just say that in the software business, yearly turnover of 20 percent is the norm; at SAS, it's about 4 percent.
4) You can get all your errands done under the same roof.
There is an on-site hair salon, nail salon, shoe repair, jewelry repair, dry cleaning drop off/pick up and a tailor for clothing alterations. There is also seasonal tax preparation and a non-fee ATM. There is a free on-site health clinic and an on-site pharmacy. Free flu shots too. And you can get your personal packages shipped, so no trips to the post office are necessary. You can actually do your grocery shopping too. Each week, a farmers market truck brings fresh produce, eggs, meats and flowers to the work campus.
5) They have annual junk and kids' clothing swaps -- and you can get free stuff.
You bring your junk or outgrown kids' clothing to the picnic shelter and volunteers organize the loot into categories. Then, all employees can come shop for things they may need -- all for free. Furniture, electronics, ride-on toys for children, lawn equipment, artwork -- it all shows up. Whatever doesn't get picked up is donated to a local charity.
6) Everyone gets a private office.
We're not talking cube farm here, either. These are real offices with doors that can be shut. All of SAS' 13,700 employees are encouraged to be creative and make their work space fun. A SAS senior communication specialist has turned her office into a shrine to Elvis with a velvet Elvis painting and a life-size standup of the King.
7) You can play just as hard as you work.
There is a state-of-the-art recreation and fitness center where you can sign up with a personal trainer, take aerobics classes or work out on your own. There is also an indoor Olympic-size pool and both competitive and non-competitive recreation leagues for frisbee, golf, soccer, kickball, volleyball, basketball, and billiards.
8) There is a free book exchange.
Because in North Carolina, not everyone reads everything on a device -- and besides, they had us at hot dog octopuses.