How Dick’s Sporting Goods Fosters a Culture of Flexibility

dick's sporting goods interior

Flexibility – or a lack of it – is the number one reason frontline retail employees are leaving, according to recent McKinsey research. As businesses struggle to hold onto staff, flexibility has moved from a nice-to-have to an essential part of any offer.  

In conversation with RIS News, Penelope Sur, the vice president of talent management for Dick’s Sporting Goods, outlines the ways the team has embedded flexibility into their benefits, how greater autonomy fits into their broader well-being strategy, and the impacts these initiatives have had on the business overall. 

The process began in August 2021, when Dick’s Sporting Goods added DailyPay as a benefit. Associates who sign up for DailyPay are able to view and/or take transfers from their available balance before the usual payday schedule rolls out. “We wanted to offer a unique benefit for our teammates to allow for financial flexibility,” Sur explains, adding that the teammates utilizing DailyPay seem to value the flexibility that it affords them in meeting their personal financial needs and goals. 

“DailyPay’s technology is utilized in this offering, making it a relatively quick and seamless benefit to offer to our teammates,” Sur says. “Many teammates value being able to check their pay balance throughout the pay cycle.  This allows them to plan for financial obligations in the future, even without taking a transfer prior to payday.” 

Building Flexibility Into Total Rewards 

Flexibility has been shown to be the most important factor in attracting frontline retail talent, both seasonal and permanent. So, beyond DailyPay, how else is Dick’s Sporting Goods going the extra mile to let staff know they have a say in how and when they work? 

“In most of our stores we have a 3-week rotation model for our full-time employees allowing our teammates to spend some weekends with their family and we ask all our employees their preferred days and time,” Sur says. It’s steps like this that make a difference, with every possible effort given to offer associates a fair work-life balance. 

Creating a Culture of Support 

Amid record turnover, spiking inflation and an ongoing pandemic, retailers realize it’s time to step up to the plate when it comes to supporting their employees. So, what is Dick’s Sporting Goods' approach to culture-building at this turbulent time? 

Firstly, Sur says, Dick’s works to create a safe, inclusive environment where teammates “can bring their whole selves to work.” Secondly, they sell fun! Last of all, Dick’s modified their in-store performance structure to better facilitate an open and friendly dialogue. “All these items, in concert, fosters a culture where teammates want to stay and grow,” Sur says. 

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After flexibility, lack of career development is the next most common reason for retail workers to leave their job, according to McKinsey. To address this issue, Sur says, Dick’s Sporting Goods have created career pathways for store and distribution centers teammates to apply for career opportunities in merchandising, IT, finance, HR, and more, Sur explains. “We created training programs, internships and learning pathways to foster development for future corporate positions. In our stores too there are a lot of growth opportunities, and we are very diligent to train and grow our teammates' skills so that they can aspire to become a store manager, a district manager, etc...” 

Lastly, as we enter the busiest time of year around the holiday crunch, leading retailers will be making moves to protect employees’ emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. The Dick’s team are no different when it comes to providing access to help and resources. 

As Sur explains, the company takes a targeted approach to their associates’ mental, physical, and financial health support.

“There are varying needs across our teammate population (store, corporate, and distribution centers).  We work to identify what the biggest needs are by group and address accordingly,” Sur says. “We also have a robust Employee Assistance Plan that offers resources to teammates and managers.” 

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