A “SAS-sy” workplace

This week, Professor David had managed to keep our mouths wide opened during lessons when he showed us a video on how Google treats its co-workers.

Everybody’s Dream Company

It showed us how Google’s offices were transformed into work playgrounds with almost everything under one roof. However, this year, Google has been overtaken by SAS Corporation, a software company for the number one spot in the list for the” Best Company To Work For” by Fortune magazine.

Several organisations were not mentions in the list. Some examples are non-profit organisations which include charity or volunteer associations and educational institutes such as universities.

So, David dropped us a bomb when he pose this interesting questions during lecture: Can a university be “SAS-sy”? Below is my response to his question.

Can a university be “SAS-sy”?

How does a SAS-sy university look like?

A university can be labelled as “SAS-sy” when it creates a working culture similar to SAS Corporation. In a “SAS-sy” university, the top management will take great efforts to help its employees to strike a healthy balance between work and life by offering perks, social and welfare benefits, incentives to employees. By doing so, it aims to build a good relationship between the employers and employees which would then translates to a list of favourable outcomes such as higher work motivation and higher revenues.

The not-so-good things about being SAS-sy

However, a “SAS-sy” university may not provide a wide range of facilities and welfare benefits to its employees like SAS Corporation. Unlike the SAS Corporation, Universities, especially public-owned institutions, are not profit-motivated organisations. For instance, the university might not be able to build a 66,000-square-foot fitness centre, catering solely to its employees. Most of the facilities which are built within the campus are usually catered to both the student population and staff. Public-own universities might not be able to generate high revenues to maintain the operations of such facilities because such universities are tapping funds from the governments’ taxes.

On the other hand, privately-owned universities have the luxury to create a “sas-sy”-liked organisation by tapping funds from their alumni clubs.

NUS, for instance, is rather “SAS-sy”-liked. NUS offers subsidized medical benefits, IT training programmes and fitness courses such as yoga and belly dancing to its employees at subsidized rates. Most facilities like the sports complex and gym are open to NUS staff but they are not entirely free for its staff. Hence, in order to become a “SAS-sy” university, the university should garner strong financial support and sponsorships from various sources such as alumni clubs or other related organisations. Hopefully, the royal treatment (given to the university staff) can push for higher work motivation and work efficiency which would also benefit both the staff and the whole student population.

How to be ‘SAS-sy’?

Being “SAS-sy is about creating a kind of culture which facilitates healthy relationship and interaction between the employers and its employees. The employers show their utmost concern over their employees by organising activities and extending welfare and work benefits to their employees, helping them to achieve a healthy work-life balance. In that way, its employees would be happy and in return, the clients and customers of the company would be happy. It works both ways. At least that was what James Goodnight, the CEO of SAS Institute has expressed in a YouTube video.

The Discussions

Out of the pounding debates led by the usual students who were usually more vocal in class, I finally had the courage to give my arms a little stretched.

“Isn’t being “SAS-sy” all about helping its employees to strike a healthy work-life balance?” I said. Then, there was an awkward silence and a black ugly crow flying past the classroom. I was buried under the silence. Was my question too rudimentary?

From the class discussion, one obvious question stood out: Several benefits such as gym facilities and free scrumptious buffets are extended to its employees but do we have to measure “SAS-sy” ness in terms of material benefits?

One student mentioned that the company do not have to spend a large sum of money just to create  “SAS-sy” culture in its company. In other words, it meant that you could create “SAS-sy”-like company, minus off all the luxurious benefits and facilities extended to employees, and could still to top the list for ” the best companies to work for.” I beg to differ. It is their strategy of branding the company by marketing it as the coolest place to work in that attracted real talents.

That, is one of the things that were hidden beneath those “SAS-sy” cultural artefacts.

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