Food For Thought: Social Media at Fortune’s Best Company to Work For in America

by Jim Berkowitz on January 21, 2010

Here’s a post worth reading by David B. Thomas, from the SAS’s conversations and connections blog, Social Media at Fortune’s Best Company to Work For in America:

As you may have seen on the homepage of sas.com, or in the tweets and status updates of many of my colleagues, SAS has been ranked number 1 on the Fortune list of 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. We’ve been on the list every year since it began, but this is the first time we’ve been at the top. As you can imagine, people around here are pretty excited.

Before I took on the social media manager job at SAS, I was on the PR team, and administered the Fortune application process for two years. Two thirds of the ranking is based on an anonymous employee survey, so if your employees aren’t happy, you’re not going to make the list, no matter how pretty your application.

In January of 2009, our CEO Jim Goodnight said we would take a hit to profits rather than lay people off. Obviously, with bad economic news all around, that must have had a huge impact on employees’ state of mind. I attribute our top position in large part to Jim’s tangible and undeniable demonstration that he truly does put employees first.

Of course, as we also saw today in our financial release, we didn’t take a hit; our revenue and our profitability both increased – another testament to the value of keeping your employees happy so they can stay focused.

That being said, how much did social media play a role? I think it certainly helped. In 2009 we released our Social Media Guidelines and Recommendations. With a majority of companies still blocking employees from participating in social media, we told ours, “We trust you. Go ahead.” That was another clear and tangible demonstration of our commitment to employees.

Social media tools have also helped to make our company, which spreads out to include 11,000 employees at offices all over the world, feel like a smaller, friendlier place to work. I regularly communicate through a variety of social media channels with colleagues in Germany, Norway, Australia, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia and more. Even Canada! And it’s made me feel more connected with colleagues in Cary – some even in my own building – who I might be geographically close to but don’t see very often.

SAS employees blog, are active on Twitter and Facebook, participate in LinkedIn groups, promote our events through social networks and YouTube – and all that is growing steadily and rapidly. I’ve been really pleased and excited by how receptive my colleagues have been to these new forms of communication.

Many of us have had the experience of meeting a colleague from another office, sharing some informal time together, and having that turn into a more effective working relationship. Social media will never replace face-to-face relationships, but it does help to extend and sustain those relationships. And those relationships in large part are what make a company a great place to work.

Or maybe even the best place to work.

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