Sarah Kiernan is Director of Talent Relations at SoulCycle, the indoor cycling fitness phenomenon. SoulCycle is known for its avid consumer fan base, but its employees are equally evangelistic about the brand.
As we will learn, there is a direct correlation between this evangelism and employee engagement at SoulCycle.
We asked Sarah what makes SoulCycle a great place to work—and how brands can better engage their teams for increased loyalty, retention and happiness.
MEDIABISTRO: How did you end up working at SoulCycle?
SARAH KIERNAN: I was working for a theater company when I was randomly approached by a recruiter who asked if I would be interested in a new job. I told her I would only go on an interview if it was a place where I wouldn’t have to sell my soul… She took that literally and after only a month or so I started working here.
MB: What has been your trajectory with the company?
SK: I started as the Executive Assistant to the founders and the Office Manager. I then focused on being an Executive Assistant for one and then—briefly—both founders.
After a year, we were opening our first Boston studio and my boss asked me to help convince our NYC instructors to move to Boston. They all ended up moving, and shortly after, I was promoted to Manager of Instructor Programming. Two and a half years later, I was promoted to Director of Talent.
MB: Why do you like working there?
SK: I have always thrived in environments that are formed by true, deep connection and human experience.
I love working here because even at the end of a long, stressful day, the people I work with will always find something to laugh about. We laugh more in this place than any other company I have ever worked for.
SoulCycle is a place where I can truly be myself. I never feel like I can’t dress, speak or behave in a way that is natural to me.
Lastly, at the end of the day, I truly believe we are changing people’s lives. I have seen people’s minds and bodies changed in that dark room and witnessed true love and community found in every studio and here at HQ.
MB: What makes SoulCycle a great place to work?
SK: The most obvious perk of working at SoulCycle is the free classes! As staff, we can ride for free and bring a guest. We can exercise as part of our work day, and the dress code is sweatpants-friendly (my dream come true).
We always say #soulpeoplearethebestpeople and it’s true. It’s so great to work with so many funny, creative and motivated people. Everyone here is an incredible hard worker.
MB: What programs or processes does SoulCycle use for employee engagement?
SK: SoulCycle offers specific internal development opportunities for its staff.
Our HR and Culture committee arranges intensive career development courses as well as numerous trainings that set us up for success not only in our current roles but in future career opportunities within SoulCycle or beyond.
Trainings on day-to-day functions in the studios are offered monthly. Big-picture career growth development trainings are offered every few months and can be either day trainings or extensive programs that meet over a period of months.
We also take feedback and communication very seriously, so we are constantly thinking about our jobs and ways to do it better.
MB: Why is employee engagement important to you?
Employee engagement is incredibly important at SoulCycle. We have really a really high retention rate here at SoulCycle, and it’s something that is important to us as a company.
It’s important for me to feel believed in and invested in so that I know the long hours and difficult moments I have are all part of a growth plan that will lead me to where I want to be in life.
MB: What can other companies learn from SoulCycle?
SK: One of our most significant core values is that “we are a culture of yes.” This is what sets SoulCycle apart from the rest.
So many other companies focus on how to get things done in a way that is super efficient, but here at SoulCycle our focus is ALWAYS on finding a “yes” for everyone and leaving them feeling good.
It’s incredible what a community of people who are happy and engaged can accomplish.
MB: Anything else you want to say about SoulCycle?
SK: Soul people are the best people 🙂