When it comes to best place to work recognition around the world, SAS and its employees can now proclaim: “We’re No. 1!”

SAS, the world’s largest privately held software firm which is based in Cary and is a perennial winner of “Best Place to Work” honors, is now the “World’s Best Multinational Workplace,” according to the Great Place to Work Institute. SAS was second on the first such list a year ago.

Twenty-five companies were honored at an awards banquet in San Francisco on Tuesday night.

Companies based in or with major operations in the Research Triangle area made a strong showing:

  • Quintiles, the world’s largest life science services firm which is based in Durham, ranked 23rd.
  • NetApp, which operates a large campus in RTP, finished third.
  • Cisco, which maintains its second largest campus outside its Silicon Valley headquarters in RTP, was rated 21st.
  • Also in the top 25 is Novo Nordisk, which operates a huge drug manufacturing facility in Clayton, at No. 22.

Winning recognition for what it offers in the workplace is nothing new for SAS, which generated a record $2.775 billion in revenue in 2011 and is expected to top that total this year.

The company, co-founded by billionaires Jim Goodnight and John Sall in 1976, has been recognized in the U.S. as the top place to work by Fortune magazine, which works with the Great Place to Work Institute, to evaluate and rank companies.

Employees receive a wide range of benefits ranging from generous healthcare plans to onsite daycare and access to fitness facilities.

Rankings are based on feedback from employees as well as an evaluation of human relationship policies and practices. The Great Place to Work institute stresses a mix of internal communications, benefits and balance between work and outside life.

To be eligible, a company must have more than 5,000 employees around the world with at least 40 percent of those based outside its home country.

SAS has more than 14,000 employees spread globally across 400 offices. Of those workers, more than 6,600 are based in the U.S. with just over 5,000 in Cary.

“This recognition underscores our efforts to encourage creativity and innovation around the world, no matter where we are located,” Goodnight said in a statement. “Employee feedback is critical to achieving first place on this list. It means a great deal that SAS employees value the company as much as we value them. It also mirrors how we value our customers.”

In competitions focused on Best Companies to Work For by country, SAS Belgium and SAS Sweden were ranked first this year.

SAS won U.S. honors in 2010 and 2011 as cited by Fortune magazine.

“The companies listed on the second annual World’s Best Multinational Workplaces List are creating workplaces dedicated to fostering trust, pride and camaraderie amongst their employees,” said Susan Lucas-Conwell, Global CEO of Great Place to Work. “Their inclusion on this prestigious list demonstrates their commitment to continually improving the lives of their employees and setting innovative new standards for workplaces of the future.”

[SAS ARCHIVE: Check out 10 years of SAS stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]

[QUINTILES ARCHIVE: Check out 10 years of Quintiles stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]