Working The Good Life – 60 minutes video (Close captioning)
If there is a heaven on earth on the job, it is at
SAS Institute -- a design for living and working the
It all began 26 years ago, when SAS started
distributing free M&M's every Wednesday. Those
M&M's grew into a collection of perks so vast that
even longtime employees like Mark Britt are slightly
“Obviously, when you've talked to people who've
worked in other places, it's really hard for us to
complain. And we catch ourselves sometimes
complaining. Then we go, „I can't believe I said that,‟ says Britt, laughing.
To atone for the M&M's, SAS provides a 50,000 square foot state-of-the art fitness center, where
the software programmers and assorted techies can burn fat, pump iron, and shoot pool -- even
during working hours.
It's all free, and all designed to keep the SAS workforce happy. Britt, a software developer, has
been at the company since 1989.
“I just can't imagine leaving SAS, and I've felt that way for a very long time,” says Britt. “If
somebody offered to double my salary, I wouldn't even think about it.”
Like his colleagues, Mark works a flexible schedule. The company encourages people to get
their work done in a 35-hour week. Mark adheres strictly to the SAS dress code, which is no
code. Laid back is the unofficial posture here, and convenience the motto – along with other
perks such as onsite car detailing, a putting green, and, of course, the masseur.
The author of all this pampering is Jim Goodnight, a lanky, laconic billionaire, the co-founder
and CEO of SAS.
“What‟s wrong with treating your people good?” asks Goodnight. “All I can say is it's worked
Indeed it has. SAS has never had a losing year and never laid off a single employee. Last year
they sold $1 billion worth of their analytical software to America's biggest corporations. This
software is sophisticated stuff that helps everyone from Victoria's Secret to the U.S. military
work more efficiently, by turning raw data into useful information.
The armies of programmers who churn out the product are paid a competitive wage, but are not
offered stock options, because there is no stock. Still, by offering extraordinary perks, SAS keeps
Jim Goodnight, president and founder of
SAS Institute, the world's largest
privately held software company.