Clif Bar’s Innovative Talent Management Strategy Earns Attention

Clif Bar is a company producing health-related foods—primarily natural and organic foods aimed at athletes, nature lovers and people on-the-go. Along with providing what they bill as nourishing foods for an active lifestyle, Clif Bar & Company also prides itself for its holistic business goals.


This is a family-owned and operated business and they base their company mission around their “Five Aspirations” which include:

  • Building a resilient company designed for long-term success
  • Creating brands that they hope are authentic, top quality and based on integrity
  • Having a company that is based around its employees as they work side-by-side to meet goals
  • Promoting healthy and sustainable communities on a local and global basis
  • Conserving and restoring the planet and its natural resources and operating a business that’s in line with what they refer to as in harmony with nature

Along with these five aspirations comes a pretty robust and incredibly unique talent management strategy. The strategy has earned attention and even accolades with FORTUNE Magazine ranking it as the 9th best medium-sized places to work in the country in 2013.

The company’s CEO Kevin Cleary made the following statement in reference to topping the list of “Great Places to Work”:

“We strive for a workplace that sustains our people—one of the Five Aspirations, or bottom lines, that defines our business,” said Clif Bar CEO Kevin Cleary. “Happy, healthy people create good food. We’re honored to be recognized for building a company culture that supports and inspires our employees to grow and succeed, have fun and contribute to a more sustainable future.”

So what exactly does this unique talent management strategy entail?

For starters, Clif Bar takes a holistic approach to not just its overall corporate mission and objectives, but also how it treats employees. The goal of the talent management strategy as they put it, is to support employees physically, fiscally and emotionally.

Some of the benefits that come with working at Clif?

  • Employees don’t just have access to the company’s onsite gym—they’re also given 2 ½ hours each week of company time to work out. The gym’s facilities also aren’t run-of-the-mill, there’s everything from fitness counselors to personal trainers available as a resource to employees, and even an indoor bouldering wall. Employees can participate in complementary group fitness classes, and the company provides a stipend that can go towards participating in athletic competitions.
  • In terms of the fiscal benefits of the Clif company, employees may be offered the traditional 401 (k) and annual incentive plan opportunities but they also become owners in the company. Employees share 20 percent ownership of the company, which is provided through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Since the company puts a big focus on being environmentally-conscious and sustainable they encourage their employees to do the same by providing financial incentives for employees who leave their car at home and bike or walk to work, or those employees who invest in a low emissions vehicle.
  • The options don’t stop there—some of the other unique offerings Clif provides include telecommuting and flexible work week opportunities, life coaching, paid sabbaticals every seven years to promote spiritual growth and development, an on-site childcare facility, a pet-friendly workplace and opportunities for employees to participate in various community service activities.

CEO Cleary tries to set the example for his employees—he rides his bike 25 miles each day to work, prides himself on a healthy lifestyle and he also disconnects from his work life every night at 6:30 so he can spend time with his family.

The Clif concept may not be for every corporation, but it’s certainly working for this particular organization. Clif continues to be recognized as not only a great place to work, but also a growing and thriving American-based company.

What do you think about the Clif talent management strategy? Download a free whitepaper – Leveraging New Talent Through the Effective Management of Millennials.

October 31, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015      

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