Yay For Corporate Culture

REI's Yay Days prove that your workers can be your best brand ambassadors.

By Katie Boué September 29, 2015

At REI, twice a year, employees are invited to redefine PTO as ‘play time off.’ The company has been named one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 18 consecutive years, and their Yay Day program was introduced last year as part of their ongoing efforts to keep that going. In the first Yay Day period, REI achieved 75 percent employee participation.

So what exactly is a Yay Day? According to REI, it’s a extra paid day off when employees are invited to “try something new, challenge themselves in a favorite activity, or work on an outdoor stewardship project.” It’s a feel good day for employees—what outdoor industry professional wouldn’t love an extra paid weekday to spend outside? But it also serves the business by allowing staff to “reconnect with the outdoors and prepare them to deliver great knowledge and service to customers.” The next time a customer comes in thinking about getting into paddling, we have a feeling this guy will do an excellent job selling him on the joys of kayaking.

Watch this video on Yay Days:

The success of Yay Days reaches well beyond the undeniable boost for employee morale; the positive impact of this program trickles all the way down to consumers and potential hires. By sharing Yay Day experiences on social media, REI employees give first-hand testimonies to how great it is to work for this outdoor retailer.

The photos and posts about#REIYayDays allow the broader REI community to share the experiences as well. Consumers feel more confident in the retail staff helping them out on the floor–and about giving REI their money–and job seekers are more attracted to REI’s company culture. The proof is in the pudding:

Head over to Instagram, and you’ll find over 1,200 photos tagged #REIYayDay. The photos create a stream of outdoor bliss, but it’s the comments that really demonstrate the Yay Day effect. Friends and family leave notes like “you’re living the dream!” and “your life is not real” on photos of REI employees using their Yay Days to summit peaks, paddle waterways and even get married.

With such strong workplace endorsements coming directly from employees, REI’s Yay Day program is an immense success in creating a culture of brand advocacy. The “an outdoor life is a life well lived” mantra reaches every REI employee from recruiters to cashiers in a real, authentic way. Yay Days instill a sense that working for REI isn’t simply about bringing home a paycheck, it’s about being a part of a community that shares your values and a love for the outdoors.