HomeINDUSTRY INSIGHTLessons from Kathmandu in employee satisfaction

Lessons from Kathmandu in employee satisfaction


Outdoor brand Kathmandu has been named one of the best places to work at.

The New Zealand founded, and owned company recently won the prestigious AFR Best Places to Work award in April. We sat down with the retailer to find out what exactly makes them the place to work, and how telling employees to go outside keeps them on top.

Rebecca Edwards, General Manager of People, Capability and Safety at Kathmandu says the company believes that “our best lives are lived outside and that time outdoors changes our brains for the better”.

Kathmandu recently introduced the ‘Joyful Out There’ fund, creating opportunities for employees to spend time outdoors.

Read more: Kathmandu launches new brand strategy for next generation of customers.

“When our people spend time outdoors, we become better for ourselves, for each other and for our customers,” says Edwards.

Rebecca Edwards.
Rebecca Edwards.

She adds that the fund is one of the most successful celebrations in the company, with over 90 percent of the retail team making use of the fund.

However, Kathmandu’s top rank isn’t only because of the fund, but also because of the number of benefits the company offers their employees.

To create a workplace that people enjoy working in, Edwards reveals that Kathmandu offers a range of benefits for their employees.

With ‘Fri-Yays’, Kathmandu allows workers to finish early on Fridays or take every second Friday off.

The company also works with ‘Flexi time’, allowing employees to decide their start and finish times, work split shifts or the option of having four-day weeks.

“We really have empowered our teams with the flexibility they need to have a more integrated balance across their work, family commitments and time to enjoy the outdoors,” says Edwards.

For retail staff, Kathmandu offers the opportunity to achieve formal qualifications in retail and business with NZQA and Torrens University.

Employees are also provided with team discounts and time off on their work anniversaries and experiences to get outdoors.

Kathmandu wins the top spot in Best Places to Work

Alongside the number of benefits for employees, Edwards says as a large company it has become important to create a workplace culture that is “committed to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion”.

“Our people are the backbone of our brand, and the wellbeing of our team will always be our number one priority. We are a family, and our achievements are because of the contribution of every individual,” she says.

She adds happiness in the workplace can flourish and be “joyful” when the team is inclusive and diverse, allowing the brand to think, create and solve differently.

“We become stronger together and the magic happens for creativity, innovation and solving problems when inclusivity and diversity can flourish. Our diversity enables us to learn and grow daily from each other.”

Edwards says one of the main reasons for their award is the high-quality people who have created a culture that “makes Kathmandu such a great place to work” and offer “world class customer experience”.

For Kathmandu, it is “critical” for the company to listen to their employees, which has resulted in a strong focus to implement tools to encourage communications.

“It’s all about communication, clarity, care and celebration.”

What can other retailers learn?

Despite all the positives, Kathmandu is still looking at ways to better improve the company for their employees.

Edwards reveals to The Register that its working to extend opportunities for the company to grow in communication skills, introducing te reo Māori and sign language classes, and also looking into how they can improve the range of workplaces under the company.

She advises other retailers that communication is key when looking after employee wellbeing. Whether it be through using tools to amplify employee voices to listen to them or communicating honestly and frequently.

“Connect employees with the same omnichannel approach you consider when connecting your customers with your brand,” she says.

She adds that celebrating the small things “cumulatively ignites culture”, making the workplace more fun.

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Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email bernadette.basagre@scg.net.nz