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Patagonia: a sustainable and environmentally-responsible company

Discuss about the Allen Gardiner and Patagonian Mission.

E-Learning encompasses the use of technology to deliver training programs to employees. This can include using the internet, simulations, electronic support systems or even virtual reality activities. E-learning is a newly developed method of training that replaces more traditional methods such as classroom based theory, case studies or on the job training which can be time consuming and costly.

Australian born outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer, Patagonia is one example of many who use E-learning methods to provide training for employees. Patagonia started as a small business out of Victoria building hiking gear and has since grown to be a popular brand that produces equipment for any sport that connect us to nature such as hiking, snowboarding and surfing. Their products are available online and in specialty retailers throughout Australia, North America, Europe and Japan.

The brand’s reputation remains strong thanks to their high quality products and their dedication to environmental awareness. The business stand by their values by ensuring that their by-products and buildings embrace their environmental a nd social responsibilities by minimising their impact on the environment. Patagonia’s main manufacturing centres include:

Energy-efficient lighting systems Solar tracking mirrors on the roof to reflect light to the work floors Recycled materials used to build the centre and, Sustainably harvested wood Their products aim to use to least amount of harm to the environment by: Using recycled materials in as many products as possible and, Uses only organically grown cotton in their clothing.

In addition to this, they also donate 1% of their sales to environmental organisations. Patagonia’s culture and values attract employees who live a healthy and active lifestyle. By attracting employees who were originally customers with a passion for their products, Patagonia is able to enthusiastically provide 45 hours of training each year to each employee. Their aim is to keep their staff learning and engaged, even if the training itself does not relate to their current job.

Patagonia use an online training library called Lynda.com to offer a wide selection of training courses in easy-to-learn video format.  Courses available include topics such as software development, design, business and photography.  The main benefit for Patagonia is that E-learning allows the company to significantly reduce their carbon footprint opposed to traditional training methods.

A key training challenge faced at Patagonia was to scale training to a diverse and dispersed workforce (Cdn.lynda.com, 2018). A mentioned by Carly, ‘Patagonia employees around the world, have a shared value - including the love for outdoors, a passion for quality, and desire to protect the environment’. In 2008, patagonia purchased several licenses for LyndaPro, giving employees access to lynda.com and countless instructional videos to assist employees to learn programs such as Adobe® Illustrator®, Microsoft® Excel®, and other software, creative, and business skills. As the employee diversity grew within the organisation, more scalable training solutions were required. In 2012, the organisation purchased LyndaEnterprise allowing all employees access to lynda.com simultaneously (Cdn.lynda.com, 2018).

Lynda.com: an online training library embraced by Patagonia

Patagonia Training Manager, Anthony Garcia stated that longtime employees needed the training as they didn’t start-out with the computer skills of new workers, who have never know life without them and are comfortable with online-training. Garcia also noted that as employees complete various courses, lynda.com records this data to increasingly measure ongoing return on investment (ROI) of the service (Cdn.lynda.com, 2018).

Some of the key strengths of Patagonia’s use of training resources of lynda.com include the website’s easy to use design, which has training for every function, at all levels, offering hundreds of soft skill courses in multiple languages, furthering employee learning through data-driven curation of elaborative video content, accessible anytime, anywhere or both Microsoft, and IOS. This assists Patagonia to develop managers and leaders, keep employees productive, upskill entire workforce, and accelerate career development  (Learning.linkedin.com. 2018).

Patagonia and Lynda.com also have a partnership with LinkedIn to filter potential candidates who undertake widely courses that indicate a potential employee/culture fit. This benefits the recruitment and onboarding department as finding the most suitable candidate can be a costly and time-consuming process.


The weaknesses of the utilisation of Lynda.com may include the reduced benefit to individuals whom prefer face-to-face teaching and therefore suffer from the lack of person-to-person interaction. As the training is an E-learning program, there is a heavy reliance on internet connection, this means that due to unforeseen technical complications, services may not be accessible. Another weakness is the generational barriers, Garcia hopes to address this by increasing acceptance of technology and e-learning integrated in day-to-day operations and by providing support to older employees to upskill and close skill gaps (Cdn.lynda.com, 2018). Lastly, the content can have a variation in video content/quality due to different trainers, difficulty levels, purposes etc. and so it may be appropriate for managers to pre-screen courses before recommending to employees (Learning.linkedin.com. 2018).

Strengths

Weaknesses

Lynda.com

WHAT:

Easy to use design

Elaborative video content

Accessible anytime, anywhere

Data-driven curation

Training for every function, at all levels

Hundreds of soft skill courses

Multiple languages available

WHY:

Develop managers and leaders

Keep employees productive

Upskill entire workforce

Accelerate career development

HOW:

LinkedIn Partnership

Employees can develop a portfolio of completed courses - ROI measure

Lack of person-to-person interaction

Reliant on internet connection

Generational barriers

Variation in video content/quality


How do Patagonia’s practices contribute to creating a positive climate for learning and transfer of training?

According to the case study the main vision of Patagonia is to create a message of hope for the society through the process of creating product values, which does not affect that the environment in the process through negative means as well as is restorative at the same time (Ottman, 2017). It is one of the best examples of the companies that are proactive in nature along with high integrity and lots of passion in its approach to society as well as the environment that they make use for the development of their product. The vision of Patagonia has also won the hearts of its employees that are passionate regarding environment related issues as well as the success of the company’s business strategy (Chandler & Werther, 2013). The main strength of the company lies on its quality of employees that it hires. These employees bring in passion to the job. The transfer of learning of Patagonia is because of the practice of hiring that it has. It hires those candidates who have outdoor passion (Bosco, 2017). It encourages its employees in order to take part in the internship programs in which the employees get the company’s support (Crooke, Csikszentmihalyi & Bikel, 2015). The company provides two months of paid leave to all the employees who take part in such programs in order to work for the non-profit organizations of their own choice (Samson, 2013). With the same, the human resource practices of Patagonia as well as the environmental passion have developed high employee commitment which helps the bottom line profit margin of Patagonia.

Patagonia’s practices that create a positive climate for learning and transfer of training


Results show one organisation to have the highest engagement level of an Lynda.com customers, determined by using an aggregate measure of usage, accounting for user logins and content consumption rates (Learning.linkedin.com. 2018).

MicroStrategy, a business intelligence company, with no company wide learning and development department, was redesigned when Rossi started at Microstrategy. The team translated the CEO’s vision into 19 e-learning pathways, covering skills such as sales, engineering, how to learn and mindfulness (Learning.linkedin.com. 2018). Classes also cover core technology platforms and business processes. Employees are regularly surveyed and data is also collated by Lynda.com to measure learning effectiveness and generate capability indexes. E-learning has many benefits to training and development. Utilisation of Lynda.com has enabled MicroStrategy to significantly reduce training costs as lynda.com is has a higher ROI than alternative training, increase training participation, and increase employee satisfaction and performance. E-learning also functions as a value-added employee benefit (Learning.linkedin.com. 2018),

The Australian broadcasting company, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) also utilises lynda.com under strategic decision was made to streamline and enhance employee learning and development by making it targeted and individualised. Lance Whitworth, organisational development and learning consultant states that lynda.com will benefit SBS by supporting just-in-time learning and allowing employees to develop knowledge a specific skill / program as required (Featuredcustomers.com, 2018). Whitworth also noted “Another big advantage is searchable, time-coded transcripts and the fact that courses are divided into bite-size chapters,”. SBS uses Lynda.com to provide reports that help track and monitor usage, and enables employees to develop programing skills while developers in the SBS online team have been able to build an SBS mobile phone app on Android and iOS after learning via Lynda.com (Featuredcustomers.com, 2018).

Lynda.com enables companies to empower employee learning and develop skills in a wide variety of business and technology areas, as well as soft skills such as creativity, leadership, communication and creative thinking. Learning is self paced and self-motivated on Lynda.com.

Conclusion

Therefore, it can be concluded that there are different positive and negative influences of the e-learning activities that has been incorporated in Patagonia manufacturer organization. It was noticed that the learning techniques that were applied by Patagonia had few strengths and weaknesses of the training resources of Lynda.com. It was seen that the Patagonia faced some major challenges that included that there was lack of person to person interaction and there were different generational barriers as well. Furthermore, it was noticed that the strengths included that Lynda.com made easy to create different designs along with accelerating the career development as well. Furthermore, it was noticed that the practices that was undertaken by Patagonia contributed towards creating positive climate for transfer of training and learning. The main strength of the organization was to hire employees who provided high quality work. With the implementation and adoption of e-learning practices, the companies can create flexible options and the discussions can be conducted through chats and boards. However, the personal interactions is becoming limited and the authenticity becomes a huge problem for the company.

References:

Cdn.lynda.com. (2018). patagonia case study. [online] Available at: https://cdn.lynda.com/cms/asset/text/patagonia-case-study-665649463.pdf

Featuredcustomers.com. (2018). SBS Case Study. [online] Available at: https://www.featuredcustomers.com/media/CustomerCaseStudy.document/lyndacom_sbs_11841.pdf

Learning.linkedin.com. (2018). Introducing LinkedIn Learning, personalized eLearning for your organization. [online] Available at: https://learning.linkedin.com/lynda-for-business

Learning.linkedin.com. (2018). This Company’s Employees Use Lynda.com More Than Any of its Peers. Here's Why.. [online] Available at: https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/engaging-your-workforce/this-company_s-employees-use-lynda-com-more-than-anyone-else--he

Lynda.com - from LinkedIn. (2018). Lynda: Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials. [online] Available at: https://www.lynda.com/

Bosco, M. C. (2017). From Yosemite to a Global Market: How Patagonia, Inc. has Created an Environmentally Sustainable and Socially Equitable Model of Supply-Chain Management.

Chandler, D., & Werther Jr, W. B. (2013). Strategic corporate social responsibility: Stakeholders, globalization, and sustainable value creation. Sage Publications.

Crooke, M., Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Bikel, R. (2015). Leadership in a Complex World. Organizational Dynamics, 44(2), 146-155.

Ottman, J. (2017). The new rules of green marketing: Strategies, tools, and inspiration for sustainable branding. Routledge.

Samson, J. (2013). Scurvy martyrdom: Allen Gardiner and the Patagonian Mission. Journal for Maritime Research, 15(1), 55-62.

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