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Online Retailers

Evo finds creative—and generous—way to pay hourly employees

The company’s leaders donate $42,000+ worth of PTO to homebound hourly employees

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During these moments of uncertainty, one thing is for sure: Employees at evo are generous with their time. The outdoor retailer on Sunday invited its top 25 executives, managers, and other leaders to donate vacation days to be re-allocated as hourly pay for team members unable to work in light of coronavirus. 

Other members of the evo team also started pitching in and as of Wednesday morning, more than 37 people contributed vacation days, with donations ranging between 8 hours and 60 hours and adding up to 2,700 hours—and $42,400—worth of paid time available.

“Many of us can work from home, but that’s not true for most of our hourly employees working in our stores and distribution center,” Chief Culture Officer Jim Knutsen said from his home in Seattle. “One of our chief concerns has been thinking through how to support those hourly team members in the event they are unable to work for any reason.”

Additionally, the company closed its stores in Denver, Portland, and Seattle, and plans to pay employees for scheduled hours during the closure through March 29 and add support for affected employees. Donated time is being allocated on a case-by-base basis and the company is anticipating worker relief from Congress through some form of family medical leave.

“We’re also still determining details of how to manage team members’ requests for support,” Knutsen said. “This is all moving very quickly, but now that we have a pool of available hours, we’re working to determine how those will be allocated, should the need arise.”

Screenshot of 18 people in Zoom conference, all wearing ski goggles
The evo technology team—all donning ski goggles for some reason— held a virtual meeting and kept up their tradition of playing a 15-minute Jeopardy game to keep spirits high.Courtesy

Knutsen said the situation has been hard on the staff, but they’re finding ways to remain hopeful. Knutsen said he and others have been keeping the Zoom video meeting program open to keep each other company. Yesterday, he joined 15 people for the technology team’s 15-minute Jeopardy break—a passtime usually held in the office, but now held virtually.

“They all were, for some reason, dressed up in helmets and goggles,” Knutsen said. “Some of them had wings on. And we played Jeopardy for 15 minutes with a live, click-in buzzer. We just were finding new ways of making human connections throughout the day. Everything right now that feels even a little bit normal just reminds us that we’re still in business, we still have a job to do, and we’re gonna get through this.”

Knutsen said he hopes that life begins to normalize soon and the vacation days can be returned to those who earned them, but for now “this is one small but wonderful example of the ways people are coming together” and it could help other businesses “as they look to balance the work of supporting their teams while protecting the business from long-term harm.”