Patagonia is closing both its offices and retail stores between December 25th and January 1st. See the sign below. They share, “We’re giving our employees a break with some paid time off.”

Hat tip to the Founder of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani for sharing it on LinkedIn with the caption, “This is why I love Patagonia.”

This is an instance of where the Pink Goldfish strategy of Withholding for customers intersects with the Green Goldfish of Time Away for employees.

If you want to recognize and reward your employees, then make it count. Time away is what they value the most. “Across all ages and cultures, time off was absolutely number one,” according to Cindy Ventrice, author of “Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works.”

Time away from the office is not only valued by employees, it’s regenerative. A recent Gallup survey shared that Americans work an average of 47 hours a week. That almost adds up to an extra full day of work every week. To make matters worse, Americans average just two weeks of vacation a year. Those 10 days put us dead last compared to all other developed countries. 

This week off is just the latest in a history of similar moves by Patagonia.

The California-based company attracts outdoorsy types with its athletic clothing brand and a laser-like focus on work-life balance. “Time away from the office isn’t just tolerated here, it’s required,” says Robert BonDurant, Patagonia’s former Vice President of Marketing.

Employees enjoy what the company calls “Let My People Go Surfing” time—a period during any workday where employees can head outdoors to get their creative juices flowing. Of course, they can’t abandon their duties or ditch a meeting, but popping out for an impromptu climb or bike ride is encouraged. At their HQ, the company has a unique boardroom. Not the one you are picturing right now. A dedicated room where employees can store their surfboards.

Patagonia also gives employees two weeks of full-paid leave to work for the green nonprofit of their choice. 

Takeaway – These time-away policies, which originated from Yvon Chouinard, an outdoor enthusiast who founded the company in 1974, are good for employee morale and invaluable to the company as a differentiator.

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Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

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