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Ever wished you could start your day two hours later to get some proper exercise? Or work a couple more hours in the morning to avoid the afternoon peak traffic?

Australian fashion retailer, the Cotton On Group has come up with a solution that allows team members to do just that. Empower Hours is a new initiative that has been implemented at the Group’s headquarters in Geelong, giving employees greater flexibility over the hours they work.

Kiria McNamara, HR Manager

Kiria McNamara, HR Manager


Human Resources Manager Kiria McNamara said the program was a way to keep pace with an industry moving away from traditional work hours. Under the Empower Hours Program, core hours are maintained between 10am and 4pm when employees attend meetings and collaborative activities, however they have the option to work the rest of their hours anywhere between 7am and 7pm.

She said the program came about through the Group’s global engagement surveys which found employees wanted greater choice over how they use their time.

“Each quarter, the Group conducts global engagement surveys to help management understand what matters most to our people, and ensure the organisation continues to evolve in line with their expectations,” Ms McNamara said.

Empower Hours was born out of direct feedback from our team members who wanted the flexibility to manage their own time and balance the things that matter most to them.”

Understanding employee expectations is becoming crucial for organisations looking to attract and retain the best employees. This program comes at a time when Australian workers are becoming increasingly disillusioned with their workplace; a study undertaken by Reventure found almost half of the Australian workforce were intending to change jobs in the next 12 months.

However, the Cotton On Group has been successful in building a workplace that attracts great talent; Empower Hours has helped the organisation break into LinkedIn’s Top Companies in 2017, making it one of Australia’s most sought-after companies to work in.

Ms McNamara said the response to Empower Hours has been well-received because team members can easily adapt hours to their situation.

Empower Hours mean different things to different team members, departments and brands under the Cotton On Group umbrella, and we love that,” she said.

“Our people have embraced the initiative and continue to work the flexible hours they love and deserve.”

From parents to sports fanatics, the program has had a positive impact on employees looking to balance their life priorities with work.

“Our team members love the flexibility that Empower Hours offers. During the summer months, they take advantage of the sun and beaches close to our head office in Geelong; while our parents love that they can spend quality time with their children after school,” she said. 

Ms McNamara said empowering their people to choose how they want to work is the key to the success of the program.

“We trust our team members to know what works best for them so they are still able to fulfil their working commitments but with the added benefits of flexibility,” she said.

The Cotton On Group’s vision to encourage a healthy work/life balance does not just end in Geelong. The success of Empower Hours will see the program rolled out internationally across their global hubs in New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United States and Brazil.


Feeling that work/life balance has improved in the workplace leads to an increase in job satisfaction and lower frequency of high stress at work (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).