The most important asset a company has is its people, says Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS.
Jim Goodnight: You know, SAS started back in 1976. We were, I think, one of the very first pure knowledge companies. Everything that we do comes out of the minds of the people that work there.
If you’re a knowledge company, then obviously the most important asset you have are the people that work there, the creative capital. It’s not like an automobile factory where you have spent billions of dollars building the line and spending that money on the factory and the housing. Or it’s not like a manufacturing company that makes chips like Intel. They’ve got their whole manufacturing site, and it’s up to three to four billion dollars now to build a new fab. So incredibly intensive in capital.
Removing distractions to help build creative workforce is certainly something every CEO should look at. We do it by providing things like healthcare, day care, recreational facilities. We have a fairly young workforce and we want to encourage them to be out there exercising and staying healthy because in the long run we have to pay their healthcare costs. So it’s better to try to keep them healthy to start with. And we have our own medical facilities on campus. We’ve got, I think it’s like seven or eight doctors, about 25 nurses and nurse practitioners. So any problem you have, you just go over to healthcare and usually within five or ten minutes you see the doctor and you’re on your way.
Probably the most important thing about work/life though is another group which we call specifically “Work/Life.” Their purpose is to hold seminars once every couple weeks on different topics -- maybe like child raising, when you’re thinking about getting married or you’re pregnant with your first child, all these different topics; healthy eating. . . . They come up with all these different topics based on the needs of the employees.
I think the job of the CEO is to help alleviate as much stress as possible on the people that work there. I mean, we want some good stress -- I mean, you know, you’ve got a deadline that’s coming up -- but we don’t need the stress like, “Oh, I’ve got to leave and go to the dry cleaners” or “I need to leave and drop something here or there” or ‘I’ve got to drive across town for a medical exam.” We try to do as much of that kind of stuff as we can right here, right on campus.
If you’re dealing with creative people, you should treat them like they make a difference. I often say that 95 percent of my assets drive out of the front gate every night, and it’s my job to make sure they come back the next day.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd