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...

Results

Communication became more fluid
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 over several sites, notably in Haute-Savoie. And, despite its small size, some of the company’s information and achievements were not being shared and its HR and management processes were efficient. The managers therefore identified three priorities:

  • to improve communication in order to gather feedback from employees
  • to structure HR strategy to gain time and efficiency
  • to 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 modernize 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 on 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 discuss with employees or do not stay long enough to go into certain subjects in depth. At the same time, some employees do not dare to express themselves on issues that are important to them, but which they consider to be secondary to managers, and which could sometimes be resolved in a few hours.

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

Zest was the only online tool to offer both the listening and performance management solutions. And, thanks to its very human onboarding, which accompanied us in our first steps with the digital tool, the implementation was very quick.

Hardloop starts with the Mood and Polls modules of the Listen pillar of Zest’s digital suite because their intuitiveness allows teams to quickly familiarize themselves with the tool. The Mood module allows managers to monitor employees’ feelings in real time and to quickly identify and resolve any weak signals.

The company uses Polls to consult employees and involve them in the life of the company. In particular, they reveal the importance of certain logistical elements related to the future headquarters that managers would not have thought of. They also help to highlight and better understand what is important collectively. Indeed, even if the company regularly communicates about its core values, especially during recruitment, other more peripheral values are just as much a part of the company’s culture.

Zest makes it possible to formalize and centralize this information collected in a very fluid and fun way from employees as they can indicate their mood or answer a survey via their smartphone, whenever they want. Employee satisfaction increases instantly because they feel listened to and considered on subjects other than 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. And to be able to support our employees, their feedback is fundamental. Very quickly, all employees 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 and made it totally ineffective and even counterproductive. The questionnaires sent back by email at very different dates disrupt the HR schedule and the reviews planned for the middle of the year do not take place.

This generates frustration among some employees and a fear that their answers will not be taken into account. On the other hand, managers realize that there is sometimes a considerable gap between what employees consider to be important points and priority objectives and what the company expects of them.

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

Hardloop then implemented the Check-in module of the Zest’s Perform pillar to set up more fluid and effective management rituals. The tool allows Hardloop to set and structure all the topics that are now 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 a predefined framework.

Because the Zest digital tool is user-friendly and easy to use, employees have adopted it without difficulty. They also see that it is not just a control tool for achieving objectives, but that the solution was set up for them, in an HR context, to listen to them and get them more involved. They therefore attribute more value to it.

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 discuss objectives but also important subjects or 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 developed an internal tool that would take a long time to create… and that employees would never use because the processes and the tool itself were too complex.

When Hardloop implemented the Objectives module of the Zest’s Perform pillar, the change was staggering. Simply listing OKRs (clear goals with measurable results) in the tool gives everyone direction by aligning their goals with the company’s. 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 systematized 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 part of the contributors from other departments is also extremely valuable because it allows the manager to address all aspects of an objective.

 

Conclusion

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 organization to ensure that everyone is fulfilled and performing at their best.

With the Zest platform, they can collect the information that used to be exchanged during informal chats, all those weak signals that could be easily addressed when the company had only a handful of employees.

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

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Further Reading