Hardloop is a fast-growing French e-commerce platform (+115% in 2020) with more than 315,000 customers and 800,000 visitors every month. The start-up's ambition is to become the reference website for all outdoor sports enthusiasts in Europe: hiking, trekking, climbing, mountaineering, trail-running, mountain biking, skiing...


More fluid communication
More structured HR strategy for increased efficiency
Implementation of the OKR method

Founded in 2015, the startup’s mission is to allow outdoor enthusiasts, whether they are beginners or high-level athletes, to find the best equipment to go on an adventure!

Highly committed to environmental protection, the company aims to have 90% of its products made of eco-friendly products by 2023.

Today, Hardloop has about thirty employees and its workforce doubles every year. Initially based in the Paris region, the teams are now scattered across several sites, notably in the region Haute-Savoie. Despite its small size, some information about the company & some of its achievements were not being shared and its HR and management processes were not efficient. The managers therefore identified three priorities:

  • Improve communication in order to gather feedback from employees
  • Create a structured HR strategy to gain time and efficiency
  • Implement the OKR method to have clear objectives and results

We wanted a digital solution that served the human element and not the other way around. A solution that would allow us to boost exchanges to gather feedback from our teams and, ideally, to modernise our evaluation process. Our wish was to regain the managerial agility and quality of exchanges that we had when there were only ten of us and when we were all in the same location. At the same time, our main objective was to implement the OKR method to manage our objectives.

Julien Jérémie, Co-founder @Hardloop

Facilitate communication to gather feedback from employees

When managers visit the different sites, they have little time to talk with employees or do not stay long enough to discuss certain subjects in depth. At the same time, some employees daren’t bring up important issues, which could be quickly resolved following a brief conversation, as they consider them to be secondary to managers. 

There is little information flow, insufficient feedback and many things remain unsaid. The lack of information about employees’ needs and feelings is evident. In addition to listening to its employees, the company has another equally important need: modernising its evaluation process.

Zest was the only online tool to offer both the listening and performance management solutions. Additionally, thanks to its very “human” onboarding experience, accompanying us in our first steps with the digital tool, the implementation was very quick.

Hardloop started with the Mood and Survey modules Zest’s Listen pillar because their intuitiveness allowed teams to quickly familiarise themselves with the tool. The Mood module allows managers to monitor employees’ feelings in real time and to quickly identify and resolve any warning signs.

The company used Surveys to consult employees and involve them in the life of the company. In particular, they revealed the importance of certain logistical elements related to the future HQ that managers would not have thought of. They also helped to highlight and better understand what is important collectively. Indeed, even with regular communication about core organisational values, especially during recruitment, other more peripheral values are just as much a part of the company’s culture.

Zest makes it possible to formalise and centralise this information collected in a fluid and fun way from employees: they can indicate their mood or answer a survey via their smartphone, wherever & whenever they want. Employee satisfaction is instantly increased because they feel listened to and considered on subjects other than just their mission and objectives.

Zest has made human interaction more fluid, and became a real communication tool between managers and their teams, as well as among employees, who share their highlights and achievements. To be able to support our employees, their feedback is fundamental. Employees have very quickly understood the value of it!

Structuring the HR strategy to save time and increase efficiency

When Hardloop decided to switch from annual to bi-annual performance reviews, the conclusion was clear: the method used did not provide any structure to the process, making them totally ineffective and even counterproductive. The questionnaires returned by email at different dates disrupted the HR schedule and the reviews planned for the middle of the year simply did not take place.

This generated frustration amongst some employees and a fear that their answers would not be taken into account. On the other hand, managers realised that there was sometimes a considerable gap between what employees considered to be important points and priority objectives and what the company expected of them.

We had a major tool problem because people were not responding in a timely manner, which made organisation very difficult. On the other hand, our communication was clearly inadequate because our employees had a poor or incomplete understanding of their objectives.

Hardloop then implemented the Check-in module of Zest’s pillar Perform to set up more fluid and effective management rituals. The tool allows Hardloop to define and structure the topics that are to be discussed and addressed each month. Managers and employees can focus on the important points during bi-annual and annual reviews and save time thanks to this predefined framework.

Zest has been easily adopted by employees thanks to its user-friendly and simple nature. They also see that it is not just a tool to achieve objectives or to be controlled, but a solution which has been designed for them, to listen to them and get them more involved. Consequently, employees value it more.

We wanted to get away from complex processes and their formal annual performance review logic, during which all subjects must be discussed. We therefore switched to “lighter” and systematic monthly exchanges to not only discuss objectives but also important subjects or any blocking points for the employee at that time.

Implement the OKR method to have clear objectives and results

To implement OKRs, the start-up first had the idea to develop an internal tool that would have taken a long time to create and that would never have been used by employees given its complex nature. 

When Hardloop implemented the Objectives module of Zest’s pillar Perform, the change was staggering. Simply listing OKRs (clear goals with measurable results) in the tool gives everyone direction by aligning their goals with those of the company. Implemented in early March, the first results were visible by the end of the month.

Our customer service department handles a lot of inbound calls and had difficulty finding time to work on structural issues that would allow them to be more efficient. With the OKR method, this department quickly resolved several issues that had been on the shelf for months and gained time and efficiency in just a few weeks.

The OKR tool and method have been systematised for all departments, with objectives defined at the beginning of each quarter and evaluated at the end of the quarter. Managers can see the evolution of objectives in real time on their dashboard and, if necessary, adapt them according to business priorities. The cross-functional nature, allowing contributors from other departments, is also extremely valuable because it allows the manager to address all aspects of an objective.



Hardloop knows that dynamic internal communication and modern HR and management processes are essential to support its rapid growth. With a growing workforce, diversifying business units and increasing remote working, it’s imperative that Hardloop transform its organisation to ensure that everyone feels fulfilled and can perform at their best.

With Zest’s platform, information from informal check-ins can be collected and centralised to enable the early identification of warning signs which would perhaps before have been easily addressed when there were just a handful of employees in the company.

Our growth ambitions are too strong not to do everything possible to make our employees feel good and also to attract new talent. The feedback from our employees is thought-provoking and we need to be constantly challenged to progress. Without feedback or clear objectives, it is simply impossible to move forward together in the same direction.

Join these Prestigious Players

Want to see your story alongside other leading companies already boosting team performance with Zest?

Further Reading