6. Superfeet Worldwide

Insole manufacturer

LOCATION: Ferndale, WA
BEST PERKS: Alternative work environment, Flex time, Community and environmental support
HIRING? No. superfeet.com

Superfeet Worldwide is the world’s leading manufacturer of aftermarket insoles. Originally the sports division of Northwest Podiatric Laboratory, Superfeet was founded in 1977 with a mission to create affordable orthotics for the general public. Our product line now includes Trim-to-Fit, Easy-Fit, and Custom insoles for every type of shoe, and we recently added a new premium sandal. Our business practices are based on a set of employee-written core values focusing on ethics, honesty, responsibility, and sustainability.

So many companies preach family first and doing what’s right. But Superfeet strives to live up to these promises. Taking care of the employees and their families, focusing on doing what is right for our customers, vendors, the community and the environment, are things we consider in every decision Superfeet makes. It’s also a ridiculously fun place to work. We want to eliminate the corporate environment, therefore we encourage horseplay, practical jokes, and the other occasional wastes of company time to make sure that everyone gets a good belly laugh before they go home. Our president is a very humorous man. To promote smiles and laughter, he takes the time to walk around and joke with people. Our product supervisor is very musically talented. She developed a personalized rap song played during the production team’s stretching time. The CEO launches random rubber-band attacks on unsuspecting employees, our educational director loves to play practical jokes, and more than one employee has come to work to find their desk either closed-in, filled with balloons, or wrapped with gift paper. This very much sets the tone of “we can have fun” in the workplace.

Our number one way to recognize our employees is through our monthly newsletter, developed by an employee in September 2008. Since then, the monthly issues have grown from just a few pages to 10 or 12. Each month we celebrate employees’ actions, attitudes, and accomplishments through kudos submitted by employees, vendors, consumers, and retailers. They have even come from community members thanking us for our charitable work. Because each employee is a part-owner of Superfeet, everyone has an incentive to contribute to a better working environment for all. Superfeet also offers a year-end bonus based on the company reaching its sales and profit goals. All employees get a bonus of 5 percent of their yearly income for reaching a preset sales number and 5 percent of their yearly income for reaching the preset profit goal. After the first year of service, all employees begin earning stock in the company. Stock is purchased from the current owners with profit from the company. Therefore, the employees own this stock with zero out-of-pocket cost. Additionally, Superfeet looks for opportunities to bring the company together to have a good time. We have frequent informal gatherings: BBQs, pizza parties, picnics, Seahawks celebrations (booya!), tricycle races, hula-hoop contests, dance contests, super-soaker fights, dunk tanks, three-legged races, and much, much more. Superfeet has four Club Seat season tickets to the Seattle Seahawks and the Sounders. For each game during the season, these tickets are put into a drawing and given away as sets of two.

Recently, Superfeet moved into a new facility with an area and equipment for basketball, volleyball, Ping-Pong, Wii Fitness, and badminton. Our new facility also has showers for employees to use whenever they like. In addition, we provide a working bike-maintenance shop for employees to tune and repair their bikes. Superfeet has also created a Wellness Committee to help facilitate healthier lifestyles. Each month the committee puts together a wellness event for employees and their families. These include things like batting cages, bowling, land-restoration efforts, local runs or walks, etc. The Wellness Committee provides fresh fruit, free of charge, to employees in each of the three lunchrooms. The only request is that if you eat the fruit, you throw money into the buckets that are marked for specific charities. Examples of the charitable organizations are Habitat for Humanity, needy families, or NW Youth Services. During the year, the Wellness Committee puts together several programs to promote healthy lifestyles. One recent example is the Passport Program, which encourages employees to track nutritional intake, activity levels, preventative medical care, and community service. Points earned for each are tallied in an effort to win prizes such as sportswear, new bikes, or two grand prizes: a trip for two to Hawaii. In addition, Superfeet provides an annual health fair that includes free biometric screenings. Superfeet sponsors several recreational sports leagues for employees and their families. All employees are encouraged to participate regardless of skill level. Employees do not have to pay the membership fees, and equipment and uniforms are provided with no out-of-pocket cost. We have yet to win any games, but our hearts are in the right place. We are certainly out there having fun and being active.

Superfeet offers staff the ability to manipulate the 40-hour work week whenever possible to meet family needs, get to appointments, and enjoy the summer months. Although not every position can be as flexible as others, we try to accommodate the needs of our employees and their families. We currently have multiple employees working a compressed work week, enjoying an alternative schedule, or telecommuting. The employee-written core values are something we all take very seriously. Doing what is right and making sure family comes first is a priority to us. We do not punish those that need time away to meet family and personal obligations. We encourage our employees to work hard, play hard, and take care of what’s important. We don’t have policies. We have an expectation to always do what’s right. It’s not a choice, it’s who we are.

Each year Superfeet evaluates the needs of the community and donates accordingly. Because we give so much money to charity, we have established a nonprofit foundation and a committee to determine where the money should go. For example, last year Superfeet and the employees donated $10,000 to an organization focused on helping families with costs associated with transplant surgery for children in need of new organs. This donation immediately and dramatically affected the life of one special little girl in our community. Each year during the holidays, Superfeet employees raise money for families who need a helping hand. Superfeet also donates to Northwest Youth Services; for runaway, homeless, abused, neglected, and other at-risk youth and young adults, they are their lifeline. NWYS’s mission is to keep youth safe, heal family relationships, reconnect youth to the community, and promote self-reliance. And there are many, many, many more charities Superfeet donates to.

From our core values: “As part of the local and global community we will be socially and environmentally responsible at work and at home.” As such: 1) Superfeet produces almost no waste; between recycling programs and composting, we produce next to no environmental waste in our production and day-to-day functioning. 2) We participate in Puget Sound Energy’s voluntary Green Power Program, which makes it easy for us to buy renewable energy equal to the amount of electricity we use. 3) We have environmentally friendly packaging that goes above and beyond what anyone can imagine. We have thoroughly researched all of the alternatives currently available. We have even researched some environmental alternatives that we determined, in the big picture, have a more negative affect on our environment than traditional packaging. This process includes evaluating the different fibers, how the fibers can be reused, and how hard they are to break down in the recycling process.

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