1. According to Maslow’s hierarchy, which basic need does the Patagonia culture meet? What would it be like to work at Patagonia? What’s your assessment of the company’s work environment?
The culture at Patagonia has fulfilled the employee’s physiological, safety, and belongingness needs (Educational Psychology Interactive). As the employees are able to afford a better than basic lifestyle it suggests that physiological needs are met. The company provides its employees with job security as the turnover rate is well below the industry average in the retail sector. This indicates that the company can retain its staff because of the way staff is treated within the organization. Those employees who are loyal to the company have experienced the satisfaction of the self-esteem level. As the loyal employees have complete responsibility and control over their work, it has helped them to achieve their self-esteem needs. However, there are no signs of attaining self-actualization at Patagonia but if an employee feels this is the maximum level of what they can attain than this level may also be reachable.
Working at Patagonia would mean having passion for one’s work. Those employees who share the same values as the company’s core values they would be able to adjust in the culture of the company. Being able to find a workplace that shares an individual’s values provides an ideal workplace setting. In my opinion, Patagonia has a very friendly work environment where the workers do not have to work under constant stress or pressures. As the workers are allowed to take time-off from work to relax their mind, they would be more productive whenever they work.
2. 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 employees motivation.
The expectancy theory of motivation suggests that people want to be paid according the effort they put into completing a task (Lunenberg, 2011). If people feel that they are not being rewarded fairly, it would lead to de-motivation and reduced levels of productivity and efficiency over time. The feeling of being underpaid may lead to workers wasting time at the workplace as they would know their efforts would not be counted in terms of monetary rewards. As the firm allows workers to go surfing, biking, or exercising during office hours then a greater number of workers would spend time doing these activities if they feel they are underpaid.
The manager at Patagonia could overcome this feeling amongst employees of being underpaid by recognizing the extra efforts an employee puts in his/her work. Most of the times, recognition of employees work and their efforts help to keep the workforce motivated. However, non-monetary rewards are not helpful every time. The managers would have to incorporate bonuses or work-related rewards to ensure workers are compensated for the extra effort they put into their job.
3. What do you think might be Patagonia’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?
As the company emphasizes upon outdoor activities the greatest challenge for the company is to keep the employees on track by ensuring they do more work rather than waste time. In order to relay this message the managers need to devise appropriate ways without hurting the employee’s sentiments. The company also needs to ensure that employees are being paid according to the work they are doing and are not underpaid or overpaid. Furthermore, as there is a lack of privacy at the employee’s workstation there needs to be trust amongst employees along with cooperation.
As a team manager of Patagonia’s retail stores I would ensure the workers are not doing repetitive jobs rather they alternate amongst jobs. This would ensure that employees are not bores and stay motivated. Along with this, workers could also be rewarded in terms of “employee of the month” for instance. This would encourage other workers to work harder and achieve this level (Robertson, 2005).
Educational Psychology Interactive: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. (n.d.). Educational Psychology Interactive: Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/conation/maslow.html
Lunenberg, F. C. (2011). Expectancy Theory of Motivation: Motivating by Altering Expectations. International Journal Of Management Business and Administration, 15(1), 1-6.
Robertson, K. (2005). Stop Ask and Listem. -: Wiley.