Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gap Outlet goes ROWE

The Gap Outlet the second major retailer to adopt the Results Only Work Environment model for their headquarters employees. The ROWE model, created by two former HR “renegades” at Best Buy, essentially means that it doesn’t matter when or where employees work; output is measured instead of hours. Gap Outlet had a ROWE pilot program in 2008 that yielded results: productivity, quality, engagement, and work/life balance scores soared, and turnover decreased by 13 percent. 

The fear of adopting an innovative HR strategy like ROWE is that people will not be motivated to work, but that has not been the case. Employees who fit into a ROWE culture and excel in it want to protect it, so employees who don’t fit in find their way out quickly. 

This kind of paradigm shift will lead to a more nimble, empowered workforce, and will allow more focus on important initiatives and less on people’s scheduling needs. ROWE also takes the “disciplinarian” pressure off of managers and HR, who can shift from policing to coaching, supportive roles. 

ROWE allows a workforce with more diverse experiences to come together in a way that isn’t always possible, and will better include women who organizations invest in only to leave when they start a family.

I think that a ROWE model will force better linkages and stronger networks, as employees are motivated to form relationships to increase their productivity and results. With the minimal financial investment required to implement, Gap Outlet decided it was worth the risk. 



  1. For more info on ROWE, check out the ROWE Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/ResultsOnlyWorkEnvironment

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  3. Since Gap employees have more freedom in choosing when and where they work, I’m guessing this new culture will foster greater creativity and innovation in its employees as well. Also, given that we’re in a huge recession, I think ROWE is a really effective pay model for retailers, like Gap Outlet, to adopt right now. Because ROWE turns part of Gap Outlet’s labor costs into a variable cost, the model decreases overall expenses when their performance declines. As consumers reduce their spending and retailers’ sales performance declines during the recession, Gap will be able to reduce their labor costs more quickly than non-ROWE companies.

  4. While this has yielded positive results for GAP so far, is it possible it can be taken advantage of? For example, since it is a work whenever/wherever environment, what if someone who is employed by GAP Outlets decides that they dont want to work or work very few hours? This falls in line with the work whenever/wherever, but the person is not being a productive employee. Is this something that would result in being let-go?