Maybe your sales reps go kickboxing with clients before making their formal pitches at the juice bar. Maybe they meet up at a nature trail and haggle over prices as they hike. Maybe they aren’t doing anything of the sort — but you can lead the way by bringing sweatworking into human resources.
Sweatworking, a portmanteau of sweating and networking, can involve any kind of exercise, from a stroll through the park to a hot yoga class to ultra-intense high-intensity interval training. And while sweatworking has recently gained attention for its potential to develop client relationships, it’s also a useful recruiting and team-building tool.
“I think sweatworking for … picking candidates has some interesting applications,” says Celine Tarrant, founder of Smart Girls Sweat, a sweatworking event company in Toronto. That’s because, she says, those who sweatwork are generally goal-oriented, good at communication, and invested in their own health and wellness. “The type of person who would go to a sweatworking event puts their own time and money into their own development. That’s a good thing.”
But Tarrant isn’t as sold on sweatworking as part of a formal interview process. While a chair yoga session where everyone can stay in their office attire may be a good team-building activity in a group interview, she doesn’t think exercise would be helpful in one-on-one sessions. “You’re already being judged; you don’t want to be judged for your downward dog,” she says.
Of course, that may be industry dependent. “A lot of our managers will say let’s meet and let’s go for a walk or go for a run and we can have an interview …” says John Stanton, Edmonton-based founder of the Running Room. He also points out that while walking or running, it’s easier to see if a potential hire is a team player, how competitive they are and if they truly enjoy exercise, which, for the Running Room, is essential.
For Stanton’s teams, group exercise doesn’t stop after employees are hired.
“At our home office in Edmonton, we have what we call a two o’clock,” he says. “Anybody who wants to participate in it can go for a walk at two o’clock — or run — and it’s on company time … You’re far more productive in the afternoon, and you’re more creative and intuitive in your thinking.”
Another big benefit to intra-office sweatworking is flattening the workplace hierarchies. “People are not necessarily open to talking to each other at different levels of the hierarchy,” Tarrant says. “But if you’re all working out together, you can’t tell who’s in what position. I always say sweat is the great equalizer. Once you’re all sweating together, you’re not going to be as aware or care as much about those things.”
And after the workout wraps up, it’s easier for colleagues to start a conversation with each other. “So if you have nothing else to talk about with someone, at the very least, you can [say], ‘Oh, wasn’t that an amazing workout? Have you done that before? What other kind of sports and fitness do you like?’ So it starts an easy conversation,” Tarrant says.