Keen Sets Plan to Expand Staffing Amid Work-Life Balance Commitment

Following the last 18 months of working through a pandemic that has exacerbated the “always-on” corporate culture, Keen has made a fresh commitment to its employees’ mental and physical health — and as part of its goal to improve work-life balance, the company said it is hiring for 50 more positions.

The outdoor brand announced an initiative called Keen Unplugged to help ease the fatigue people have felt since the COVID-19 health crisis initially shut down the world in March 2020.

To help move toward prioritizing work-life balance, Keen said it is committing to beefing up its resources by hiring for 54 positions. No further information was available on the new hires.

Keen Unplugged encourages people to spend time away from screens, meetings and online chats and plans for meeting-free Fridays called Unplugged Fridays. The brand said it is also creating a formal program to create “collective Paid Time Unplugged goals” and to create a “leadership pledge to celebrate unplugging”.

“This is about breaking the cycle that started before the pandemic, but has accelerated as a result of it,” Traci Reandeau, VP, global people and culture, said in a statement. “We’re finding that people get trapped in loops of behavior. Unplugged is our attempt to disrupt that loop. We know the healing power of nature. We just need to give people the permission and the support to access it.”

The company cited a June Priceline survey that said more than half of Americans who didn’t use all their vacation days actually regretted not taking more time off work in 2020.

“We recognize that this is a cultural issue and it starts with us,” said Rob Brydges, GM for Canada. “We want to make it clear that unplugging is expected, not an exception.”

In 2021, Portland-based Keen saw strong growth in multiple categories, in part by capitalizing on the hiking boom. Its trail head and outside urban business units climbed more than 50%, and utility is up around 50%.

“Keen Unplugged ensures our employees take care of themselves, take the time to stay healthy, enjoy the outdoors, and, most importantly, know when to push the pause button,” said Ellen Sheedy, corporate counsel at Keen. “We realize to support our team, we need to modify our own behavior and provide the means and opportunity to truly unplug.”

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