At Patagonia, an outdoor apparel company based in Ventura, Calif., preserving and protecting the environment is a core value.
So Patagonia, which brands itself as an “activist company,” offers a unique employee benefit—paid time off for workers when they participate in peaceful environmental protests, according to Dean Carter, Patagonia’s vice president of HR and shared services.
It is among several companies offering employees experiences that underscore the company’s values.
Employees, for example, have spent three weeks at Chilean Patagonia, at company expense, to help restore a former sheep ranch. They have climbed dams and paddled out to oil rigs to protest the environmental impact of those structures. In addition, the company will pay the bail for any employee who’s arrested for peacefully protesting.
Employers that create a compelling employee experience exemplify the future of work, said Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace, an HR advisory and research firm in the greater New York City area, who moderated the panel.
“It’s how you build your tribe and how you go out and identify who’s in this tribe and how you create a shared vision,” Meister said.
Airbnb, an online short-term lodging service that lets people rent out their homes to travelers around the world, offers employees a $2,000 credit annually to try the Airbnb experience.
Panelist Deborah Butters advised HR professionals to think of “moments of impact” that the organization can create for its employees. She is senior vice president and CHRO at PerkinElmer in Waltham, Mass.
“They don’t have to be huge ones,” she said of those moments, “but three or four things you’re going to do this year across the entire company” or segments of the company.
Experience-building has not been HR’s expertise, said panelist Wendy Smith, global head of employee experiences at NCR, so she suggested that HR managers reach out to their company’s marketers to “teach us how to do that with our employer brand. Marketers are the experts at experience-building.”
Meister cited a quote from Paul Papas, global leader of IBM Interactive Experiences, that she uses in her book:
“The last best experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experiences they want everywhere.”