38. Patagonia

Outdoor-gear and apparel retailer

LOCATION: Ventura, CA
NUMBER OF EMPLOYERS:
806
BEST PERKS:
Alternative work environment, Fitness, Community & environmental support
HIRING? YES! patagonia.com

Patagonia is a designer, distributor, and retailer of high-quality technical outdoor clothing, lifestyle clothing, and travel gear for men, women, and kids. Patagonia sells products through company-owned retail stores in the U.S., Japan, and Europe; through wholesale dealers, both domestic and international; and via our award-winning website and mail-order catalog. We use environmentally preferred fabrics—such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, and organic wool—and seek to serve as a model of sound environmental and business practices.

COMPANY CULTURE
If you ask any Patagonia employee what they love best about working here, they will most likely say it’s the people they work with. Patagonia’s culture creates an environment where our employees’ individuality is alive and flourishes within the business and, at the same time, everyone is aware of their responsibilities and takes great pride in the contribution they make to Patagonia’s products and values. Patagonia’s culture encourages employees to celebrate all the roles they have in their lives, be it as a parent, a community organizer, an athlete, or an activist. This is not a workplace where one has to shed those responsibilities when walking through the front door; rather, those attributes are celebrated and respected by the culture.

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION AND AWARDS
Patagonia offers a company-wide bonus program to all Patagonia employees, including those who have full-time, part-time and seasonal status. If the company meets or exceeds the financial goals set for the fiscal year, employees are given a percentage bonus of their annual salary based on their past performance and level of responsibility within the company. The Employee Referral Bonus program rewards employees who refer candidates to fill open Patagonia positions. Once the candidate is hired, the employee who referred the newly hired employee is awarded $100 or more. Individual and group efforts of our employees are acknowledged in a variety of ways. We reward employees with gift certificates for meals or travel, departmental or public recognition at company meetings, or company-wide parties. Patagonia thanks their employees by having parties to celebrate the holidays, summer, and the end of the fiscal year. Party activities vary, and often include the opportunity to give back to the local community at the same time. The Reno Service Center has a Fun Patrol that organizes fun activities such as the Holiday party, a Halloween Costume Contest, and a Super Bowl tailgate lunch. Cooking breakfast as a fundraiser for local environmental groups is encouraged, as is the annual holiday Waffle Breakfast sponsored by the company’s Quality Team. The Ventura Headquarters employees participate in the annual Corporate Games, competing with other Ventura County businesses in a variety of sports such as softball, volleyball, tennis, and tug-of-war. Many departments plan activities to do together as a team to relieve stress and promote fun. At the Reno Service Center, many groups take a half day to snowshoe or ski during the winter, and float down the Truckee River during the summer. Departmental potlucks, BBQs, and Birthday Cake and Ice Cream for monthly birthday celebrations also gather people together for fun occasions or for no reason at all. The Shipping Department in Reno hides riddles in the warehouse for workers to find and solve for fun prizes like a Turkey Piñata for Thanksgiving!

FITNESS BENEFITS
Patagonia has exercise areas where employees may take yoga or aerobics classes during the workday. In addition to these areas, exercise equipment and free weights are also available for employee use at the Ventura Headquarters and Reno Service Center. Most Patagonia employees enjoy being outdoors and exercising during their breaks and lunch, so many of our stores and offices provide shower facilities, bike racks, or racks for employee surfboards. The Ventura Headquarters has an outdoor sand volleyball court, and both the Ventura and Reno Service Center facilities have basketball courts and are adjacent to public bike paths and hiking trails. Patagonia’s Ventura Headquarters facility operates an on-site Café where the majority of the food served is organically grown. It provides employees healthy breakfast items and a full lunch with a daily hot entrée and extensive salad and sandwich bar; pricing is lower than comparable fare in the local community. “Take-home” meals are available to purchase for dinner, and all of Patagonia’s global locations provide free organic tea and coffee to employees and guests. Patagonia offers employees free yoga and aerobics classes on-site at the Ventura Headquarters and Reno Service Center. In addition, a massage therapist provides services on-site in the company’s Reno facility.

FLEXTIME
Patagonia’s owner and founder, Yvon Chouinard, wrote a book a few years ago titled, Let My People Go Surfing, a great metaphor for the company’s general philosophy of, and commitment to, achieving good balance between work and life. It is culturally accepted for employees to take time off during their workday to pursue that balance, whether it is taking time off to spend time with their children, go surfing, skiing, or fly-fishing, or participate in one of the company’s on-site sponsored exercise classes (free to employees). We trust employees to figure out a schedule that allows them to get their jobs done and also take care of themselves and their families. Our leave-of-absence policy assists employees in obtaining a good work-life balance rather than reward them for long-term service. With manager approval, and for eligible employees, Patagonia offers an unpaid personal leave of absence of up to four months; during this time, the company will continue to pay the employee’s medical premiums. Many employees use this time to travel and/or pursue their passion for outdoor sports. For example, last April, in partnership with the Nevada Wilderness Project, a Patagonia employee who is also an ultralight hiker took a personal leave of absence to hike across the entire state of Nevada, bringing awareness of the environmental impact of a proposed power line paralleling his route. Keeping a healthy work-life balance is key to Patagonia’s success. From the company’s first days, when production of climbing gear was suspended if a swell came up or there was a powder dump in the local mountains, employees have always been encouraged to effectively balance their passions with their work responsibilities. To have employees be trusted to best know how to get their work done in order to achieve this balance is what sets Patagonia’s workplace culture apart from many others.

GREEN INITIATIVES
The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill was deemed “the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry,” and Patagonia employees wanted to help in some way. To answer the call, Patagonia sent seven groups of ten employees each to the Gulf region to work with a local nonprofit organization, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, to assist with their community outreach program. Patagonia employees canvassed different Gulf communities to reach out to individuals and their families to assess the impact of the oil spill in their neighborhood and then add the data collected to a map of the region. Patagonia employees were paid their regular salaries during this time, in addition to being reimbursed for their living and travel expenses. Also, Patagonia has an Environmental Internship program in which individuals and/or groups of employees work for nonprofit environmental organizations of their choice. Employees earn their regular salaries while providing their skills to groups in their local communities or around the world. In addition to the internships, Patagonia sponsored 15 Witness for Wildlife trips for employees across the U.S. in order for them to gather data on migratory animals. This data is collected and used to support the Freedom to Roam environmental campaign, protecting critical wildlife corridors throughout North America. Last year, 84 Patagonia employees were able to contribute to another community-service initiative called the Backyard Collective. Employees volunteered to help clean up the Ventura River, along with employees from Horny Toad and Teva/Deckers. Patagonia celebrates Martin Luther King Day by providing opportunities for employees to give back to their local community by working for a half or full day and earn their regular pay. In addition to Patagonia’s global environmental-grants program, the company also matches 100 percent of employee donations to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Throughout the year, Patagonia and its employees donate food, toys, clothing, and time to charitable endeavors in their local communities. Patagonia’s mission statement, “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm,” creates a business environment in which decisions are made every day to reduce our environmental footprint. One hundred percent of Patagonia’s apparel styles are recyclable through our Common Threads Recycling program, and 65 percent of all styles are made with at least 35 percent environmentally conscious fibers. Thirty-nine tons of garments have already been recycled through the Common Threads program, and 27 tons have been collected so far. Also, our award-winning catalogs are made with 30 percent post-consumer waste and are FSC-certified.

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