42. Smartwool

Outdoor-apparel manufacturer

LOCATION: Steamboat Springs, CO
Flex time, Fitness, Community & environmental support
HIRING? YES! smartwool.com

SmartWool is an apparel brand whose products are inspired by living and playing in the mountains. The company offers year-round technical clothing for an active life lived in unpredictable mountain climates. SmartWool products are created to get the most out of the inherent benefits of Merino wool while delivering extraordinary comfort through intelligent and thoughtful products, allowing mountain athletes to do what they love to do longer. 

The SmartWool team wants to affect positive change in the world where they live, play, and do business. The team believes in capitalism with a conscience and that a company can and does participate in active kindness. The overall culture is to help each other be more successful through thoughtful listening, treating others with respect, and motivation. 

Having a balanced and healthy life is part of the company’s corporate values and is strongly encouraged at all levels of SmartWool. The employees believe that a conscious approach to living extends beyond the walls of their offices. The employees themselves promote and encourage a healthy work-life balance. The expectation is that everyone should get out and live a full life as defined by each individual. Employees are required to work a 40-hour week Monday through Friday. However, during the summer, the office closes at 3 p.m. each Friday, and no meetings are allowed after noon, so the team can grab their bikes and hit the trails early. Schedules are flexible and determined by each department head. Employees are also encouraged to partake in the “powder clause” that allows employees to get out and enjoy first tracks whenever there is fresh powder on the ski hills.

STIP bonus awards are available to all employees. Annual merit pay is based on annual performance-related reviews. And numerous other awards exist to recognize individuals and teams who exemplify the five driving SmartWool Values of Humanity, Humility, Integrity, Excellence, and Commitment. Those who are awarded the company’s highest honor, the Pinnacle Award, are given up to $1,000 cash.

Each employee is given a season ski pass for their hometown ski resort. Employees are also given the opportunity to purchase an annual activity pass for their choice of activity, such as a season pass to the local health club, golf course, or other activity. The employee is then reimbursed for their activity pass up to $150.

June was turned into bike-to-work month in Steamboat Springs. We had nearly 100 percent participation at SmartWool. Our Smarties Commute program continues to grow and gain momentum. In 2010, we carpooled, walked, ran, or biked more than 40,000 miles to and from work. We also have an annual ride that we do from Steamboat Springs to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. This year the company had 30 people participate in the four-day, 400-mile bike ride. 

SmartWool also offers summer hours that allow employees to take advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures to get out and enjoy the outdoors. During the winter months, employees are encouraged to use flexible working hours and partake in snow days if there is fresh powder on the ski slopes. During the summer, every Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. employees meet in the main entry and depart for bike rides, both mountain and road. They ride for approximately two hours and then meet at a local watering hole to share stories from the ride, relax, and ease into the weekend.

The company closes all its offices globally for one day dedicated to community service with several group volunteer projects. This year the company cleaned parks, built mountain-bike trails, helped the elderly, and delivered firewood to families in need. We also close our offices for a day of service dedicated to community greening. At SmartWool, all employees are given 40 hours annually to volunteer in their hometown communities. The team’s community volunteering hit an all-time high in 2010, with team members serving more than 1,500 hours in their local communities.

SmartWool has increased its recycling programs at all offices around the globe, even adding on-site composting at the global headquarters to help create fertile soil for the new vegetable garden. The Design Office in Boulder, Colorado, is a PACE-certified zero-waste facility.

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