Employee Engagement & Retention

REI’s roots as a co-op and our core purpose—to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of adventure and stewardship—are the foundation for our unique workplace. When employees feel connected to our core purpose and make a difference with customers, members and communities every day, they stay engaged in our business and serve our customers and members well.

Employee Engagement Survey

We measure employee engagement each year in an engagement survey, made available to every employee and completed anonymously. Conducted by an independent firm, the survey tracks key engagement indicators and provides comparison results from our industry peers.

The survey asks for employee feedback on key topics, including commitment, pride and loyalty, satisfaction with REI's benefits package, operational and leadership effectiveness, and communication.

REI has historically had an impressive employee survey participation rate, and 2011’s response rate was strong at 85 percent. Overall survey results showed that 87 percent of our employees are engaged. This engagement rate is calculated by looking at the favorability rating in eight key areas that make up our employee engagement index, shown below:


High engagement means that employees say that they are connected to REI values, committed to being involved, motivated to drive success and are planning to stay with the company. These attributes help qualify that employees feel satisfied at work and contributes to other strong indicators, including turnover and retention.

Turnover & Retention

Despite ongoing high employee engagement, we realize that the effects of the challenging economy, high national unemployment and limited job growth also play a role in our strong employee retention.

In 2011, REI overall turnover was 26.6 percent, a 0.6 percent drop from 2010 and an all-time low for the co-op. It’s also far below the average retail industry rate of 63 percent.


REI’s annual turnover percentage rate is measured by dividing terminations in a particular year, both voluntary and involuntary, by average headcount across all months of that year.

Our 2011 retention rate was 79.4 percent, as compared to 79 percent in 2010. Employee retention is calculated using the percentage of new hires from a particular year that are still employed at year-end. On our employee engagement survey, the percentage of employees with intent to stay at REI continues to rise as well.

The co-op is focused on scaling our business for continuous growth—something that can’t occur without the hard work of our employees. We’re committed to supporting our employees by making sure they see how their individual contributions support REI’s overall business direction and strategy, by maintaining open lines of communication, by providing valuable compensation and benefits, and by fostering dialogue.