Episode 11 | The Secrets Behind Clif Bar’s Culture & 97% Retention Rate

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If you had to choose one example of a truly awesome office, Clif Bar and Co.’s state-of-the art, 115,000-square-foot headquarters in Emeryville, CA  might very well be it. 

Made from wood reclaimed from local barns and railway ties, and featuring a gym and rock climbing wall, the space mirrors the company’s commitment to health, wellness, and sustainability. 

At the center of it all is today’s guest, Jen Freitas, the company’s Director of Learning and Engagement. Guided by the company’s “Five Aspirations,” she helped launch Clif Bar’s Sustainability Benefits Program, an initiative that helped the company earn numerous workplace awards, including ‘best place to work’ nods by Fortune and Outside magazines.

As you’ll hear in the interview, Jen actually began her journey at Clif Bar in 2001 as a cardio kickboxing instructor. Today, she leads the company’s people development, engagement, and wellness programs, and helps employees develop personal goals and a professional path that’s aligned with their values.

In our conversation, Jen tells us why it’s essential that individuals bring their personal values to work with them, why Clif employees are paid to work out, and how the company has been able to sustain its 97% retention rate.

A quick note – you might notice that the audio is a bit different on this one. That’s because we met Jen in Clif’s HQ and recorded it on-the-fly.

Key Takeaways

  • Jen describes her journey from cardio kickboxing instructor to director of people, learning, and engagement at Clif.
  • Jen explains why Clif founder Gary Erickson decided to pull the plug on the sale of his company at the last minute.
  • Jen takes us through Clif Bar and Co’s “Five Aspirations” (or “Five Bottom Lines”).
  • Jen tells us the determining difference between engaged companies and non-engaged companies.
  • Jen tells us how Clif created its Awesome Office, and tells us the perks that matter most to her and her colleagues.
  • Jen gives introduces the idea of the “work-life cocktail.”
  • Jen tells a great story about the best company gift she ever received.
  • Finally, Jen tells us how Clif works with employees to develop their own personal values.


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