What motivates people to join a SAS? How do you get them to work hard and maximize their efforts? Should you be egalitarian and pay everyone the same, or should you closely link pay and performance? How do you get your most talented managers and software engineers to stay? Does SAS need to “go public” like its competitors and issue stock and stock options to its employees? Are there other ways for SAS to reward people and remain competitive in the talent market? If you were in charge at SAS, what would you do?

People might feel motivated to join SAS because of the company's workplace environment, culture, and benefits to its employees.

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SAS Institute is the worlds's largest multinational company, which develops analytics software ("SAS" means Statistical Analysis System) for various uses, including analysis, data management, business intelligence, and crime investigation. One of the main reasons why people are so interested in working at a company such as SAS is the workplace environment.

SAS has been ranked the "World's Best Workplace" several times; the company takes pride in the fact that they provide a healthy and creative work environment, in which the employees feel independent and safe. The company, essentially, invests in the happiness of its employees, which in turn motivates the employees to be more productive, efficient and innovative, as well as loyal and committed. Everyone is treated equally and with respect, regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender, and the employees' individuality is highly valued, which is why SAS is also considered one of the most diverse and most inclusive workplaces in the world.

Another reason why people might be motivated to join SAS or to stay working at SAS is the company's culture and benefits. Aside from providing great learning and work opportunities for its employees, SAS also provides numerous benefits. People who work at the company can focus on their professional development, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle; for instance, there are several cafes located in the SAS campus, as well a gym, a beauty salon, a daycare center, a medical center, and even a summer camp. The company also offers a profit sharing and 401(k) retirement plan.

Because of its specific business structure, "going public" might not be a wise executive decision for SAS, as it will change the company's dynamic. SAS is an extremely successful company which generates a good level of profitability and continues to grow. Thus, "going public" might compromise the company's mission, as well as the company's values. Finally, the new investors might not always agree with the CEO's business decisions, which have been proven to be beneficial to both the company and the employees.

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SAS has been a very successful software firm since it started in the late 1960s. Due, in part, to its early incubation in an academic environment, it has historically been focused on the quality of its technology rather than creating elaborate bureaucracies. It tends to have a relatively flat corporate hierarchy and has consistently ranked among the best places to work in surveys by magazines such as Forbes. People are motivated to join it because of the opportunities to do cutting edge work in software and because of the quality of its working environment. Another factor is that it is headquartered in North Carolina rather than California, meaning that the cost of living is far more affordable. Thus, even someone who was offered a higher salary by Google or Facebook might want to stay at SAS because, in North Carolina, they could afford a nicer lifestyle. 

SAS was also a pioneer in offering features such as onsite healthcare and daycare. As well as having onsite recreation facilities, cafes, and other amenities, they encourage a 35-hour work week and work-life balance, making them an extremely attractive company for employees who want families. 

As one of the few companies almost untouched by the dot-com bust, SAS has a proven business model. It can focus on creating extremely popular business software products and having an admirable record of retaining very capable employees. There is no reason for it to change. Going public might force the company into a short-term mentality focused on quarterly earnings, rather than on maintaining its very successful corporate culture. Basically, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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Some of the most common motivations that lead people to join a SAS include competitive pay, interesting work, and advancement opportunities. According to author Chuck Williams, even software engineering employees facing demanding work conditions can thrive with the proper motivation. The most crucial ingredient to motivation is a work environment in which all employees feel their contributions matter. It is also important to provide work that plays to each person's strengths while giving employees the opportunity to improve their weaknesses. While fair pay is an important factor, employees must also receive recognition from team members and management to feel appreciated and maximize their efforts.

Equity theory holds that people are motivated to work when they believe they are being treated fairly. This theory places great importance on employees' perceptions, independent of material rewards they receive. Many employees believe it is unfair for CEOs to make 319 times the average worker's salary because it violates the principle of equity theory. Others argue pay should be linked to performance and CEO talent is rare enough that it is necessary to pay individuals who possess it a much higher rate. The outcome/ input ratio matches employee compensation with employee contributions, linking pay and performance while maintaining a sense of fairness. This system is generally the most practical in a SAS setting.

Due to the SAS business model, going public would be a risky decision to make. Although trading shares publicly can improve the public perception of a business and increase transparency, it can also lead to serious financial hardships, as it did for Ben & Jerry's business model. There are alternate ways to offer benefits to employees and help them feel invested in the business while remaining competitive in the talent market. Stock options are only one part of the reward system that allows employees to feel adequately compensated. Making continual efforts to assess employee satisfaction and reward gifted employees is the best way to remain competitive. Rather than going public, SAS could implement such initiatives as fair pay standards, increased advancement opportunities, training programs, and incentives for exemplary performance.

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