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Hiking app AllTrails offers employees a special perk that embodies its culture

By offering perks that reflect company culture, HR can increase employee motivation and help recruitment and retention.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

Imagine a day when no one is in the office or on their computer. And no, it’s not a federal holiday. Sounds like a dream, right?

Everyone who works for outdoor fitness and hiking app AllTrails gets to live out this fairy tale on the first Friday of every month. Dubbed “Trail Day,” all AllTrails employees take the day off to spend time outside (or inside—no one is keeping track), according to Doreen Ghafari, its VP of people.

“Our mission is really simple: Get everybody outside and kindle the spirit of adventure. So, why not start with our very own employee population?” Ghafari told HR Brew.

Offering perks aligned with your organization’s mission can help employees feel connected to it. On top of that, perks can help employees feel appreciated and motivated, improve company culture, and increase talent attraction, according to Indeed.

Enter, stage right: Trail Day.

Make ’em feel special. In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, AllTrails wanted to find a way to help its employees feel less isolated.

“[Trail Day] actually came about when we, like a lot of companies during Covid, were trying to wrap our heads around what was happening,” Meaghan Praznik, head of communications at AllTrails, told HR Brew. “We were talking about: How do we make sure that we are not losing this culture?”

Even though Trail Day started in response to the pandemic, the company has continued to use it to connect employees to its mission and to each other in their remote and hybrid world.

“[It’s] a really cool opportunity for employees in all these other geos to get together. We really encourage them to plan outings, as a team or as a group, if they can,” Ghafari said. “If not, all good, you can go out with your friends and family, but it’s been really cool to get other people from across the company together that wouldn’t normally interact.”

A “cheat code” to recruiting and retaining. Offering employees perks that are reflective of a company’s culture isn’t new: Penguin Random House gives their bibliophiles free books, PetSmart offers employees free access to pet-training classes, and Ben & Jerry’s gives employees three free pints of ice cream every day. (Yum!)

But amid the RTO tug-of-war and “perk-cession,” connecting employees to a company’s mission through specialized perks can offer HR a recruitment and retention “cheat code,” Ghafari said.

It worked on Ghafari: Prior to joining AllTrails in 2020, she was looking for a job that would reflect her values and passions. Now, when she’s talking to prospective and current employees, she hears a similar sentiment.

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“I often find that in all of these conversations, people already know about AllTrails, or they’re huge advocates for the outdoors, so they usually come into those recruiting conversations with a strong sense of purpose, a strong sense of connection to the outdoors,” Ghafari said. “Our job on the recruiting team is to educate them and just tell them all the cool stuff that we’ve got going on, and why we all believe in the same things that they do.”

Find something that speaks to your employees. And if it involves giving them the first Friday of the month off, surely no one will complain.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

Our HR newsletter delivers need-to-know industry news and insights to HR pros every weekday for free.