Should you introduce sporting events at work?

22 Jan 2018 Events

Team building has long been used to persuade, educate, motivate, and inspire staff. And, over the decades, we’ve organised a wide range of sporting events at work. So we’ve seen plenty of trends come and go (firewalking anyone?).

But regardless of what else has changed, sport has always proved popular with managers and employees alike. And, from marathons to abseiling down a vertigo-inducing cliff, football matches to crashing about in 4x4 vehicles, it has been used to help staff bond in an enjoyable way.

The rise of sporting events at work

As we start a new year, sporting events at work are set to become even more popular. And the benefits go much further than employee bonding; with pursuits that rely on physical activity helping to improve fitness and support broader corporate wellbeing schemes. One example of a company that has taken this commitment to health very seriously is Swedish sportswear and underwear company, Bjorn Borg. The business is so passionate about helping its staff "feel good and get stronger" that it closes its office every Friday for an employee sports hour. Of course, this is a brand that is all about sporting greatness.

But even for less sports-focused brands, teambuilding and fitness are becoming increasingly interlinked. And this makes financial sense as the healthier employees are, the less likely it is that they will need time off work.

However, before you rush out and buy a team kit for your employees, there are a few things to consider.

Tips to ensure your sporting events are a success

Firstly, while you might love getting hot and sweaty, for many people the idea of being forced to engage in “fun” activities that they’d never choose to do generates a feeling of dread. They may not be confident, healthy, or social enough. If regular sporting events were the reason they joined your company in the first place, that’s great. But if you suddenly try and force this type of activity onto staff the results can be devastating, with employees quickly becoming demoralised and demotivated. So, be sure that you introduce these events on a voluntary basis, or even better, provide a range of options so that there is something to appeal to everyone.

Secondly, be aware that some people take sport VERY seriously. So if not implemented carefully, corporate sporting events can create or enhance a competitive culture. Winning delivers a sense of accomplishment, and the desire to win can drive us to exceed our goals. But, in a competitive business environment, some people have an intrinsic need to ‘win’ and that means someone else has to lose. This can create an unwillingness to take part or support new ideas and initiatives. Not exactly what you want when you are trying to build an encouraging business environment!

Let the experts help

Before you dive straight in, it makes sense to engage an experienced event management team that knows what is needed to create positive and supportive team-based activities.

When done right, sports-based corporate events can be hugely rewarding. And, whether your teams have worked together for years, or have been brought together because of reorganisation or a need to deliver a specific project, helping them to bond makes good business sense.

But, teams are complicated things, made of the most quirky and diverse components possible – people. So, if you want to reap the benefits of sport-based teambuilding activities, you’ll need to do more than provide the time and the kit. Team building encompasses psychology, training, and inspiration, and only a professional can truly help you to bring all these elements together.

An established teambuilding company, Apex has 30 years’ experience in the industry. So, we’ll help you get the most from your teams and the people who work in them. Contact us and tell us about your business and what you want to achieve.


Paul Ashford

Paul Ashford is a founding director of and has over 25 years’ experience in live events and conferencing. He has a particular interest in creative communication and team dynamics and advises Apex’ clients on how to build teams and convey their key messages in visually stimulating and effective formats.