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The 15cm Rule - a conversation with Giv'er Shirtworks

Posted by: FernieChamber
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Focusing on work-life balance and how to do it, we chatted with Kieran Summers of Giv’er Shirt works on their success balancing work and life. 
 
Chamber: So we’ve all seen the closed for Powder Day signs at Giv’er Shirt Works and assume that the staff must love it, what outcomes do you see at your business for putting a priority on powder days? 
Kieran: For Giv'Er, powder day hours are a part of our culture.  Working hard and playing hard.  Values that are important to Erin and I as well as our staff.  We receive lots of positive feedback and comments about our powder day program from tourists and locals alike.  People think it's great!  Tourists often take pictures of the sign on our front door, and ask our staff how the conditions were that day.  People see our truck parked at the ski hill, and drop in our store as a result.  
 
Chamber: How did you get to this idea of powder days? 
Kieran: For myself it was easy.  Prior to opening Giv'Er, other shops (primarily the ski shops) in town followed a powder day program.  Since I originally moved to Fernie to ski and was used to racking up ski days when I was a bartender, the idea of missing powder mornings didn't sit very well with me. Right from the start I employed a 15cm rule, which applied not only to me, but to my staff as well.  The only stipulation was that you needed to be at work for noon ready to go. The results have always been positive so I've kept the 15cm rule going every year since.     
 
Chamber: It appears that Giv’er puts a priority on work life balance with a program like this, can you expand on that, do you see it as a balance program and if so, how?
Kieran: Work life balance is definitely a priority at Giv'Er.  It's referred to directly in our vision.  Fitness, the outdoors and a great social life are personally important to me.  We live in a recreational mecca, and it can be challenging to take advantage of these resources while running a business.  Time is at a premium.  However, staying fit and energized translates directly into the effort you put into your business.  Again the play hard work hard attitude.
For our staff, a program like the powder day hours is a huge benefit.  Staff as well as the owners get to enjoy the activities that they love.  Staff show up to work energized after a fun morning of skiing, ready to tackle the days tasks.  Perhaps not every business is as flexible as our in terms of when their staff work, but for us a noon-8pm production shift works out just fine.  I believe little perks like this ultimately lead to happier staff, which in turn translates into greater staff retention, staff that buy into the vision you've created, and staff that promote your culture.  
 
Chamber: Are there other programs at Giv’er that prioritize work life balance? 
Kieran: During non-peak production times, production staff have the choice to take every second Friday off.  Just an extra day every other week to do whatever they want to do.  We also provide all full time staff with a flexible benefits package which pays for everything from chiropractic to massage to acupuncture. Health and wellness is a huge part of a successful work life balance.  Got to treat your body right!  The odd social beer and snacks night doesn't hurt either. 
 
Chamber: What outcomes do you see from this focus, how does it affect your business goals? 
Kieran: Unless you are a one person business (you), you ultimately rely on your staff to create a successful enterprise.  I feel that providing perks such as those mentioned throughout these questions is essential to creating and maintaining that success.  If you treat your people well, they will treat you and your business well.  Staff want to do a good job, so create a culture that allows them to do that.   At Giv'Er our staff are awesome.  They love to get out there and get after it.  This attitude combined with a lot of hard work contributed to a 20% increase in revenues last fiscal year.  I'd call that a success!
 
A huge congratulations to Giv’er on building a program that works for their business and building  a strong culture that results in success and growth. 
 

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