According to Maslow's hierarchy, which basic needs does the Patagonia culture meet? What would it be like to work at Patagonia? What’s your assessment of the company’s work environment? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has five different elements. The five step model, developed by Abraham Maslow in the 1940s, is still relevant today and helps us in understanding human motivation, training and personal development needs of employees (McLeod, 2014). Patagonia’s culture is very informal. It comes across as a company which cares for its employees (especially women), is very family oriented, close-knit and outdoor focused, with a friendly work culture and care for the environment (Case Application 1, 2016). It is committed to communities and supports outdoor activities, by producing products which are environmentally sustainable. The company’s culture meets all the five steps in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It takes care of biological and physiological needs; safety needs, love and belongingness needs, esteem needs and self actualization needs. Working at Patagonia will be a great experience. For people who love the outdoors and have a passion to protect the environment, Patagonia offers very fulfilling career options. The benefits are good; the company is very employee focused and strives to be the best in whatever they do. The company’s mission is based on very humane and altruistic motives; which makes it one of the best companies to work for (OutsideOnline, 2011).
Use the expectancy theory and/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. The theory of Equity has gradually evolved into the theory of sensitivity, which defines how employees see their relationships with the company and others in the workplace (Jewczyn, 2010). The level of motivation and contribution from employees at Patagonia can be expected to be high, given the positive activities, friendly culture and a feeling of bonding and togetherness (Case Application 1, 2016). However, comparisons related to pay may undermine some of these motivations. Managers need to evolve a system of relevant reward and recognition – based on the employee passions. The strategy is to address the higher needs more effectively – the needs of esteem and self actualization. Employee surveys and one-on-one meetings with managers will help understand employee motivations and aspirations. Managers can then address those in the benefit and award programs. Another way is to enhance the referral programs by monetizing it. That will serve two goals – it will not only help in hiring known people who are culturally aligned to the organization but also act as a motivating factor, increasing employee loyalty.
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? Patagonia’s mission and its employee policies are very forward looking and positive (Patagonia, n.d.). It satisfies all the five steps in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This also creates a problem for managers, since all the employees would likely be highly motivated and do not see any new goals to achieve or challenges to meet (McLeod, 2014). The voluntary and involuntary turnover is low (25%) compared to industry average of 44% (Case Application 1, 2016). This shows that employees are motivated and loyal. As a manager it would be important to keep employees motivated by customizing the benefits to their individual aspirations. At the self actualization level, the role of the manager is to ensure that the employees meet their self actualization needs (Tanner, 2015). Reward programs must aim to provide special and differentiating benefits – like for example, an all expense paid trek to Himalayas. Patagonia managers will face many challenges in future, in keeping a high-performance team motivated and helping take the business to the next level of growth.
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