Panda Express and Clif Bar Companies’ Business Practices


This paper delves into the business practices implemented by Panda Express and Clif Bar and attempts to showcase the effectiveness of developing positive attitudes in the workplace and its impact on employee performance and retention.

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The power of a positive attitude on the part of employees supposedly enhances their productivity at work, results in longer employee retention at a company and promotes the creation of a better working environment and business culture (The Power of a Positive Attitude, 2012). With all these supposed advantages, it can be assumed that companies would want their employees to have a positive attitude since this translates into better profits for the company through enhanced productivity. As such, this paper will delve into the factors that help to create positive attitudes in employees and what companies can do to bring them about. Utilizing the example of Panda Express and Clif Bar, what will be examined are the concepts of continuous development and going green which articles such as “The Power of a Positive Attitude (2012)” indicate is one of the growing trends in developing positive attitudes among employees in today’s modern day business environment.

Continuous Development of Employees and its Effect on Business Performance

I agree with the perspective of Andrew and Peggy when it comes to their view regarding the importance of continuous development for their employees which results in better operational performance for the company and helps to bring about higher levels of community development (Reece, 2014).

When it comes to operational performance at a company, job satisfaction is the deciding factor behind several principles of corporate human resource development and, as such, should be examined from a multilevel perspective in order to ensure employees continue to perform adequately and stay longer with a company. There are many ways in which this can be accomplished ranging from mentoring, continuous job training (i.e. employee development) and other such factors which contribute towards increased job satisfaction. On the topic of continuous development, this particular practice involves the development of employees in such a way that they are able to understand their intended path and role within the company.

Based on the work of Burroughs, Dahl, Moreau, Chattopadhyay and Gorn (2011) it was noted that once an employee develops notions related to importance, acknowledgement and knowing that they will become an important aspect of the company, they become more interested in their respective positions and actually start to work harder and become more interested in their jobs (Burroughs, Dahl, Moreau, Chattopadhyay and Gorn, 2011).

This translates into higher levels of operational performance on the part of the company which contributes significantly towards profitability. When it comes to continuous training development programs, it is interesting to note that researchers such as Maltais (2012), indicate that continuing to develop employees in order for them to accomplish multiple different tasks actually results in a greater degree of job satisfaction since it takes away factors related to repetitive actions that actually cause job dissatisfaction (Maltais, 2012).

This dissatisfaction often results in employees resigning from their positions in order to find a more satisfying career path. Unfortunately, such actions can result in significant operational losses for the company since they would need to hire and train new personnel to replace those that left. This impacts the company’s capacity to be profitable and, as such, shows how important it is to create job satisfaction in order to retain employees. From the perspective of Maltais (2012), an employee actually loses satisfaction with their job over time unless some degree of variability is included to make the job more interesting (Maltais, 2012).

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For example, various studies in psychology that have attempted to use economic theories as a means of explaining certain types of human behaviour state that a job can be construed as being similar to the concept of marginal utility wherein the more you consume a particular product the more likely you will consume less of it at a later date (Maltais, 2012). The same can be said for doing the same job over and over again wherein it will eventually reach a point where the marginal utility derived from doing it will be negative thus resulting in job dissatisfaction (Schuler, Jackson and Tarique, 2011).

In order to avoid such an occurrence, it is recommended that continuous training and development programs which allow employees to assume different job roles as well as sufficiently progress in their career are an optimum method for increasing job satisfaction since this enables them to “reset’ their marginal utility so to speak as they are placed into new roles (Burroughs et al., 2011). This creates continued interest, the desire to learn and improve which in the end results in high operational levels for the company (Schuler, Jackson and Tarique, 2011).

How Much Does Training and Development Cost Companies Every Year?

Based on the analysis of Defilippo and Dunbar (2013), it was shown that business within the U.S. spend an average of 60 billion a year on employee training programs with $1,500 being allocated for low level employees and $46,000 on average (though the figure does increase considerably depending on the company) over the course of an upper level management employees career with the company (Defilippo and Dunbar, 2013). Taking this into consideration, it can be seen that keeping employees happy and retaining them is an important aspect of company operations due to the money that was invested in their training.

Green Business Practices and its Benefit on Employees

Through the analysis of MacLean (2008), it was noted that green business practices and their contribution towards positive employee attitudes is primarily due to the feeling employees get wherein they correlate the beneficial practices of the company with their sense of environmental preservation (MacLean, 2008). Within such a context, when examining the green business practices implemented by Clif Bar (i.e. clean energy incentives) and correlating them with the benefits that Generation Y (i.e. the current generation of employees) is often after, it can be seen that there is a definite “meeting of the minds” so to speak since the company is able to provide what this particular generation of workers is after, namely additional benefits to the compensation that they already receive from the company.

Combined with the sponsored workouts and on-site gym, this further enhances the appeal of the company to Gen Y workers. It should also be noted that compared to previous generations, Gen Y places a higher level of importance on the concept of the work-life balance wherein each aspect compliments the other. With the growing popularity of the “Green Movement” among workers from Gen Y, the implementation of green business practices by Clif Bar helps to create a considerable degree of positive intrinsic motivation on the part of employees since they feel that they are contributing in a positive way towards the continued preservation of the environment. As for me, while working for a “green oriented” company seems appealing, I am far more practical and would go for a company that implements a more competitive salary package.

My reasoning behind this is quite simple, while advocating for “greener” workplace environments is beneficial for the environment, the fact remains that my current economic reality is not conducive towards such an attitude. I would prefer to have money on hand rather than contribute to the environments well being. Once I am financially stable, it is only then that I will try to focus on getting a job with a company that advocates more environmentally sustainable practices.

Dogs in the Workplace

While Clif Bar does support a dog friendly work environment, there are several issues with his particular idea, namely: the mess, the noise, and the sheer amount of distractions that come about through such a practice (Villano, 2013). On the other hand, it should be noted that having dogs in the workplace would make employees far happier resulting in better job satisfaction. VanderMey and Kaplan (2013) have indicated that having dogs in a workplace environment actually results in a considerable reduction in stress for employees since they feel far more content, happy and visibly relaxed when they have their pets nearby. However, VanderMey and Kaplan do also note that while on paper the idea seems sound, its practical application leaves much to be desired due to the various issues that come with having pets in a workplace (i.e. noise, sanitation, etc.).

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As such, VanderMey and Kaplan recommend that pets in a workplace environment could work if the company was relatively small, did a lot of its work outside and was not in the food industry. It is based on this that the practice of having a dog friendly work environment is really not advisable and is more of a useless perk that would distract employees rather than it actually contributing to enhanced company performance (VanderMey and Kaplan, 2013).

Panda Express and Employee Development

The following are a breakdown of the advantages discerned from Panda Express and their focus on employee development as a means of gaining a competitive advantage.

Competitive Advantage

When examining current corporate methods of operation, it must be noted that companies such as Panda Express practice effective methods of talent management actually develop a certain degree of competitive advantage over their competitors within the same industry. The reason behind this is actually quite simple, by retaining talented individuals and increasing their skills and competencies the company in effect creates a talent pool that can respond to a diverse amount of circumstances and develop methods of innovation that can enable a company such as Panda Express to surge ahead of its competition (Thorn, 2011). Not only that, it reduces the inherent costs related to the search and hiring process. The end result is that this create a distinct competitive advantage for the company enabling it to survive in its current market environment. An employee based competitive advantage manifested itself in improved operational capacities resulting in reduced errors and greater levels of productivity.


Employees that lack sufficient motivation with their current position have been shown as being more likely to leave for “greener pastures” as compared to employees that have been sufficiently motivated by their company (Green, 2002). This can come in the form of reward programs, company policies or varying degrees of empowerment that in effect encourage employees to work harder and stay longer at their jobs. Employee motivation played an important role in talent management practices due to its correlation in creating employees that are more motivated to work, more interested in their job and, as a result, stayed longer with their respective companies. Motivation is a crucial aspect of talent management since no matter how well Panda Express develops its employees through a plethora of training programs and seminars, if said employees find little willingness to actually apply what they were taught in a productive and enthusiastic manner then the training itself would have been a useless venture (Thorn, 2011).

The reason behind this is the fact that businesses do not operate within a vacuum and have to deal with an intense competitive environment on an almost daily basis. As such, in order to meet these challenges company’s often have to retain employees by offering certain benefits while at the same time institute costly training practices in order to improve performance, these factors result in added costs for Panda Express (Thorn, 2011).

Clif Bar and Green Practices

Clif bar advocates not only green living for their customers, but for their employees as well. This comes in the form of giving them incentives to go green at home and in the workplace (Villano, 2013). Overall, this strategy helps to appeal to an employee’s desire to preserve their natural environment.

Example of Going Green

The following is an example of a hotel “going green” by altering its operations in order for them to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The heavy duty cleansers hotel janitorial departments use are full of hazardous chemicals which, when released into the environment, cause various types of environmental pollution. This is further exacerbated since a single hotel uses thousands of gallons of cleansers within a single year. This problem is worsened by the fact that in areas where there is a greater concentration of hotels this means that the environmental impact is that much worse due to the possibility of greater concentrations of chemicals from the various hotels making their way into the surrounding environment.

While there have been no conclusive studies on the possible environmental impact of the concentration of hotels in various cities, it can be assumed that with each of them utilizing thousands of gallons of heavy duty cleansers the possibility of environmental contamination is pretty high. An environmentally friendly alternative in such a case is to utilize biodegradable cleansers that are non-allergenic and do not cause respiratory ailments. Not only are such cleansers cheaper but they do not cause harm to the environment due to their chemical composition which becomes easily biodegradable. They also contribute to the well-being of guests that stay at the hotel since the harsh chemicals used in industrial grade cleansers are not present in the environmentally friendly biodegradable types.

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Overall, it can be stated that this paper has successfully shown that the power of a positive attitude on the part of employees supposedly enhances their productivity at work, results in longer employee retention at a company and promotes the creation of a better working environment and business culture.

Reference List

Burroughs, J., Dahl, D., Moreau, C., Chattopadhyay, A., and Gorn, G. (2011). Facilitating and Rewarding Creativity During New Product Development. Journal Of Marketing, 75(4), 53-67. Web.

Defilippo, D., and Dunbar, J. (2013). Long-Term Learning: Invest Now or Pay Later. Chief Learning Officer, 12(5), 18-21. Web.

Maltais, D. (2012). Take a coordinated approach to talent-management strategies and solutions. Employment Relations Today (Wiley), 39(2), 47-54. Web.

MacLean, R. (2008). The Green Conversation. Harvard Business Review, 86(9), 58-62. Web.

Reece, B. (2014). Effective human relations: interpersonal and organizational applications. (pp. 1-139). New York: Cengage Learning. Web.

Schuler, R. S., Jackson, S. E., and Tarique, I. (2011). Global talent management and global talent challenges: Strategic opportunities for IHRM. Journal Of World Business, 46(4), 506-516. Web.

The Power of a Positive Attitude. (2012). Black Enterprise, 42(6), 10. Web.

Thorn, B. (2011). Panda Express. Nation’s Restaurant News, 45(10), 72. Web.

VanderMey, A., and Kaplan, D. A. (2013). A workplace gone to the dogs. Fortune International (Asia), 167(2), 1. Web.

Villano, M. (2013). Raising the bar. Entrepreneur, 41(3),74. Web.

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