Read the Case Application 1: Passion for the Outdoors and for People (end of Chapter 17).
After reading the case details, prepare your report for Patagonia managers by answering the following questions:
- According to Maslow’s hierarchy, which basic needs does the Patagonia culture meet? What would it be like to work at Patagonia? (Hint: Go to Patagoniaâ€™s website and find the section on jobs.) Whatâ€™s your assessment of the companyâ€™s work environment? (20 points)
- Use the expectancy theory or the equity theory of motivation to explain how feeling underpaid might affect the work of a Patagonia associate and what a manager can do to increase the employee’s motivation. (20 points)
- What do you think might be Patagoniaâ€™s biggest challenge in keeping employees motivated? If you were managing a team of Patagonia employees in the retail stores, how would you keep them motivated? (20 points)
CASE APPLICATION 1 Passion for the Outdoors and for People
At its headquarters in Ventura, California, Patagoniaâ€™s office space feels more like a national park lodge than the main office of a $400 million retailer.100 It has a Douglas fir staircase and a portrait of Yosemiteâ€™s El Capitan. The companyâ€™s cafÃ© serves organic food and drinks. Thereâ€™s an infant and toddler child-care room for employeesâ€™ children. An easy one-block walk from the Pacific Ocean, employeesâ€™ surfboards are lined up by the cafeteria, ready at a momentâ€™s notice to catch some waves. (Current wave reports are noted on a whiteboard in the lobby.) After surfing or jogging or biking, employees can freshen up in the showers in the restrooms. And no one has a private office. If an employee doesnâ€™t want to be disturbed, he or she wears headphones. Visitors are evident by the business attire they wear. The company encourages celebrations to boost employee morale. For instance, at the Reno store, the â€œFun Patrolâ€ organizes parties throughout the year.
Patagonia has long been recognized as a great workplace for mothers. And itâ€™s also earned a reputation for loyal employees, something that many retailers struggle with. Its combined voluntary and involuntary turnover in its retail stores was around 25 percent, while it was only 7 percent at headquarters. (The industry average for retail is around 44 percent.) Patagoniaâ€™s CEO Casey Sheahan says the companyâ€™s culture, camaraderie, and way of doing business is very meaningful to employees and they know that â€œwhat they do each day is contributing toward a higher purposeâ€”protecting and preserving the areas that most of them love spending time in.â€ Managers are coached to define expectations, communicate deadlines, and then let employees figure out the best way to meet those.
Founded by Yvon Chouinard (his profile as a Leader Who Made a Difference can be found on p. 134), Patagoniaâ€™s first and strongest passion is for the outdoors and the environment. And that attracts employees who are also passionate about those things. But Patagoniaâ€™s executives do realize that they are first and foremost a business and, even though theyâ€™re committed to doing the right thing, the company needs to remain profitable to be able to continue to do the things itâ€™s passionate about. But that hasnâ€™t seemed to be an issue since the recession in the early 1990s when the company had to make its only large-scale layoffs in its history.