After evaluating the changing workplace after Covid, the retailer decided to launch new flexible initiatives, such as ‘Fri-Yays’, to allow teams the opportunity to spend more time with family and loved ones during the week. Now, staff are welcome to rearrange their hours so they can work a four-day week, then knock off early on Friday to go on a roadtrip with their kids or go bike-riding with friends.
“Having flexibility is important to foster that openness to people who are from different backgrounds and circumstances to work for us. They don’t have to fit into the rigid mold of nine-to-five, Monday to Friday. It’s completely at odds with our brand,” Casey explained.
Here, we chat with Rebecca Edwards, Kathmandu’s general manager of people, capacity and safety, about how the business rolled out the new initiatives effectively, and what the staff feedback has been like.
Inside Retail: What are the benefits of offering these kinds of initiatives for businesses and their employees?
Rebecca Edwards: Improving the wellbeing of the world through the outdoors starts with improving the wellbeing of our team and supporting them to get ‘out there’, to share the joy of spending time in nature with family and friends, to be courageous by challenging themselves to try something new outdoors and be open to how better being outside makes us feel inside.
Through initiatives that support our team’s overall wellbeing, health, and resilience, such as greater flexibility and life balance, we also improve outcomes for our business.
Listening to our team was key to the success of these types of initiatives. For flexibility to be inclusive, businesses need to understand that the types of flexibility important to diverse teams will be different.
We have empowered our teams to have the flexibility they need to have a more integrated balance across work, family commitments, passion activities, and enjoying the outdoors and downtime.
These initiatives, such as meteor shower campouts and ‘Out There’ festivals, bring our values to life. Ka māia, ka manahau, ka mākohakoha mātou – we are courageous, joyful and open.
The benefits of these types of initiatives and work flexibility improve our business performance and outcomes for our customers through improved team engagement, productivity, creativity, and innovation.
IR: What are some of the key ways that Kathmandu is managing the new initiatives and ensuring that people are still able to work both effectively and flexibly?
RE: We needed to be open to working on how to make work agile and flexible, rather than focusing on the barriers.
Consulting with our teams on the types of flexibility important to them resulted in a suite of flexible options, including flexi time, Fri-Yay free time, condensed working weeks, freedom to be part-time and remote working.
These types of initiatives require us to be courageous in our commitment to a dynamic, high-trust, high-performance team-orientated culture.
This means supporting the success of an agile working structure by eliminating or adapting tasks, processes, work rhythms or workflow to be more efficient in our decision making, communication and how we collaborate as teams and cross-functionally.
Flexible working requires a work culture to evolve, and a business to invest in supporting flexibility to be successful.
Examples of adapting our business to support flexibility include ‘No meeting Fridays’, which is structured as a day to work on the business, not in it. Other initiatives include a commitment to a more efficient and disciplined meeting culture and moving to a progressive approach to performance measurement.
An agile working structure requires a non-traditional approach to measuring performance and keeping track of core deliverables by teams because the traditional visibility of teams has changed to a hybrid of office-based, remote working and flexi hours. An example of this includes moving away from the annual employee performance review to monthly key performance indicators and strategy coaching sessions for better visibility and tracking output.
IR: How does Kathmandu intend to measure the success of the new initiatives?
RE: We have already seen the success of these types of initiatives, including reduced employee turnover. Our team engagement is at the highest it’s ever been. We have seen the improved wellbeing of our team through reduced stress levels and improved ability to be creative, innovate and work strategically.
A measure of our success is also our team now being able to genuinely live our values, love what they do, and have the flexibility to get out there in nature.
We will continue to measure the success through team engagement and performance tracking and ultimately through the success of our core business deliverables. It has been great to see our managers and team reporting increased individual productivity and team collaboration.
IR: What advice would you give other businesses around offering flexible initiatives?
RE: Be open to how flexible working can improve outputs for not only employees but the business itself, consult and listen and consider trialling types of agile working.
This was the approach that has been successful for us at Kathmandu.