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There are several different ways SAS can address this problem. The safest choice as a manager over the short term is simply to imitate companies such as Google and Apple by creating playground-like campuses and increasing signing bonuses. The problem with that strategy is that you are competing head-on with huge companies with deep pockets. The success of SAS has been built around being smart and disruptive -- carving out its own niche.
Globalizing: Competing for the best talent in the United States is difficult for several reasons including competition from other companies, the strength of the dollar, and the limitations on the number of visas for skilled foreign workers. Relocating development to Canada, Ireland, or the developing world would attract a wider international talent pool.
Non-traditional workforce: Many studies and articles discuss how women, older workers, and people of color often find IT companies to be hostile environments. If SAS could create a friendly environment for workers who are not young, white, and male, they would have at their disposal a large potential workforce other companies are not exploiting effectively. Flexible work arrangements, including part-time and telecommuting, would be especially appealing to some of this potential employee pool.
Recruiting Early: One of the great dilemmas for many smart students from poor families is how to afford university. SAS could seek out bright high school students and give them loans to pay their way through university. These awardees would intern at SAS over summers, and then be offered jobs at SAS with a percentage of their student loans forgiven for every year of post-graduation employment at SAS, so that after 5-10 years at SAS, the awardee would not only have a great job but also be free of student debt. This sort of program would create a pool of loyal employees with diverse backgrounds.
Retention: The best way to learn what will help retain employees is to discover what those employees actually want. Although compensation is one part of retention, giving employees greater self-determination, a pleasant working environment, work-life balance, and opportunities for growth are just as important. The human resources staff should make sure to focus on employee satisfaction in relation to developing retention strategies.
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