KEEN Footwear Launches “KEEN Unplugged” To Combat Pandemic Burnout

August 11, 2021–  KEEN, Inc. (KEEN), the global footwear brand on a mission to make outside inclusive and accessible to all, today launched “KEEN Unplugged,” an international initiative supporting the mental and physical health of its employees. This program combats work-life integration challenges and the fatigue many people around the world are feeling. KEEN Unplugged encourages people to take time away from screens and the constant stream of virtual meetings and group chat. Specifically, this initiative includes meeting-free Fridays, a formalized program to create collective Paid Time Unplugged (PTU) goals and a Leadership Pledge to celebrate unplugging.

A June 2021 Priceline poll suggested Americans only use 54% of their paid time off and Glassdoor reported that only 23% of workers use 100% of their time off. Americans don’t take vacations because they feel it creates more stress about falling behind on work, about being judged, or fear of being replaced.  While this trend has been present for years, the lack of personal time off, combined with other pressures associated with the global pandemic, are adding significantly to burnout.

“This is about breaking the cycle that started before the pandemic, but has accelerated as a result of it,” says Traci Reandeau, vice president, Global People and Culture. “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 leadership team kicked off the program at KEEN’s virtual Global Gathering of 300 with an “Animal House” inspired “I state your name ….” pledge. “We recognize that this is a cultural issue and it starts with us,” says Rob Brydges, GM for Canada. “We want to make it clear that unplugging is expected, not an exception.” The pledge includes the commitment to additional resourcing (54 positions) and prioritizing work-life balance.

“We found that people were in meetings from Monday morning to Friday afternoon,” said Erik Burbank, vice president, The KEEN Effect. “Being a global company makes a weekly schedule even more challenging because the team is catching up on the weekends with no chance to unplug and recharge.  Unplugged Fridays are meeting free, giving people focused time to catch up, close out the week, prepare for the weekend, and unplug a few hours early to balance out the work week with extra outside time.” The company will celebrate and share Unplugged Fridays through #KEENUnplugged.

Beyond the workweek, KEEN is pushing to make unplugging culturally acceptable, and has established individual Paid Time Unplugged (PTU) plans, and company-wide PTU Drive, similar to an old-school blood drive.  “We recognize that taking time off can in itself be stressful for people, says Dana Schwartz, senior vice president, global DTC & digital.  “That’s not good for our team mates, and not good for our business.  We’re working to provide the support needed, and to help our team mates understand the importance of unplugging.  The PTU Drive is a way to express that it’s both acceptable and expected.  We’ll be celebrating individual Unplugged Moments in team meetings and tracking progress along the way.”

“We are growing rapidly and our team is rising to the challenge every day,” said Ellen Sheedy, corporate counsel, KEEN. “In the pandemic-driven new normal, it is easy to become consumed by the global always-on culture. 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.  We realize to support our team, we need to modify our own behavior and provide the means and opportunity to truly unplug,” Sheedy continued.

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Source- PR Newswire