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Analysis of Hr Policies of The Patagonia Company

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After it’s foundation in 1970, Patagonia has rapidly become one of the leading brands in the clothing sector, especially in the design of outdoor clothing and gear for the silent sports like climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, fly fishing and trail running. However, the great success of Patagonia is not only linked to the product itself, but also to the culture of the company, characterized by the great attention on environmental, moral, ethical and philosophical causes. At the same time, the company proposes itself as a source of inspiration for other brands, a model to be followed. All these aspects identify the goal of the company, justifying its reason for being, and are clearly expressed in the mission statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”.

Moreover, one of the main drivers of the success of Patagonia is directly connected with its employees, a passionate, engaged, committed and satisfied workforce. In 2018, in a resource of Fortune’s partner, Great Place to Work, the 90% of the respondents emphasized the great level of job satisfaction, underlying the great atmosphere (97%), the pride (97%), the challenges (93%) and the great communication (92%). The high level of employee satisfaction is also due to the Human Resource Management of Patagonia, which at the same time provides policies and activities that help the company to achieve the strategic goals and develop and retain a committed talent pool. So, in the following paragraph I will present some of the most important HR policies of the company:

Let my people surf

Let my people surf is a sort of “mantra” and represents the essence of Yvon Chouinard. Strongly desired by the CEO of the company, let my people surf enables employees to have a flexible time schedule, allowing them to take a break from their job during the day in order to go surfing, climbing, skiing or doing other sport. In this way they have the possibility to test the products that they are developing, understanding the strengths, the weaknesses and the areas of improvement and optimizing their future job. In addition, it also allows them to use this time to improve their education or to stay with child or take them to play sport. Based on trust and fair, let my people surf aims at increasing the work-life balance of the employees and creating a perfect work-life fit. However, work-life balance is not only beneficial for the employees, but also for the employer. In fact, according to Sussanna Shagvaliyeva and Rashad Yazdanifard (2014), it improves work satisfaction of employees, in terms of motivation, engagement and commitment, but also the overall life satisfaction; while from the employer perspective the benefits are in terms of working performances, retention and lower absenteeism rates, that lead to an improvement in productivity and profitability of the company.


Patagonia pays a great attention to work-life fit, providing to its employees a huge choice of free facilities: skateboards, yoga, hiking trails, field trip, ski trip, fly fishing, rock climbing, scooters, weekly 30-min lunchtime bike ride, organic food & café and etc. All these facilities helps employees to find their work-life balance, but the overriding goal as said in the Wall Street Journal is to create: “a more fulfilling, happier workplace that attracts and retains better workers, who in turn design superior product and develop smarter strategies”. In fact, a satisfied worker is more productive, more engage, more committed, more involved, more attached to the organization and at the end its performances are better.


The Environmental Internship Program represents a great opportunity for employees at Patagonia; in fact, they have the possibility to have 60 days with salary paid (full-pay) to work on environmental project they are passionate about, learning new skills and supporting causes in which they belief. The only requirement is coming back and doing a report in order to present the activity that have been done on the ground and allowing the company being aware of the contemporary environmental issues. The enviro-internship program is both a source of inspiration for the company and a signal that Patagonia sends to its workforce: “we believe in you and in the causes you care about”. This kind of approach is really successful because the company pampers employee, they fill that what they are doing is right, increasing their commitment and attachment to the organization, but also getting the new ideas for new environmental missions. 1% for the planet.

Since 1985, Patagonia has introduced the so-called “Earth Tax”, an environmental policy through which the company every year donates the 1% of the sales or the 10% of the pre-tax profit for environmental grassroots activities worldwide. The main idea is that the larger they get, the more they pollute, so the 1% for the planet is a method to give something backs to the Earth. This way, Patagonia each year divides its 1% to each local location (retail store, shops and etc. ) and give them their own budget for grassroots activities in their local area. The environmental concern is a core value at Patagonia, as the environmental attitude of its workforce; 1% of the planet is something in which employees believes and in what they identify themselves, they know that in their own way they are making the difference. In fact, workers play an important role in the decision-making process, being an active part of the Grants Councils, which decides on various environmental grants. This is one of the keys that tie this program into job satisfaction, especially in a higher level of involvement.

Family Care Programs

“Work and family don’t have to be separate, they can be one on the same. ” (Michael Crooke – Ex CEO) Introduced in 1985, Patagonia has been one of the first enterprises to introduce childcare facilities at work, allowing the workforce to take child in an on-site structure at Ventura headquarters. Considered a fundamental part of the campus, the child development centre allow the workforce to be fully committed on what they are doing, increasing the working performances and job satisfaction. Particularly, many scholar found that employees using childcare centres or other family care programs report better level of commitment to the organization. Thompson, Beauvais and Lyness (1999) pointed out that employees’ receiving work-family benefits are more committed and less likely to leave the organization. This last finding is also confirmed by the CEO Rose Marcario that maintained: “the turnover rate for parents who have children in the program has run 25% less than for our general employee population”.

In addition to the child development centre, Patagonia offers other family care programs like:

  • Childcare reimbursement during business travel
  • Lactation room(s)
  • Paid sick leave to care for a child or relative.

Patagonia provides also paid leaves, which for mothers are 4 moths (3 moths in case of adoptive mothers), while for fathers are equal to three paid moths. This is one of the more successful policies, in fact normally the turnover rates of mothers after childbirth tend to be very high, while at Patagonia in the last five years the return rate at work after maternity was 100%.

In conclusion, Patagonia provides very successful family related policy that increase job satisfaction, working performances and commitment of employees, allowing the company to increase the retention rate.

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