By Diana Busino

Commentary about Millennials in the workplace is nearly inescapable both in the news and in Human Resources departments across the country as organizations look to attract, retain and grow a new generation of professionals. In the sports and entertainment industry, we are not immune to this growing concern, and find both ourselves and our clients seeking to develop unconventional ways to engage with Millennials, and develop environments and cultures that attract and maximize the success of this unique generation.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal highlighted a core and (I believe) underrepresented tactic for positioning a company for success when it comes to the Millennial generation: adaptability.

In sports, we tend to be somewhat bound to “the way we’ve always done it”, a business principle that is completely incongruous with Millennials’ aspirations and mindsets. Interestingly, though, as noted in the article, the San Francisco 49ers have thrown out the “playbook” containing the traditional methods in which meetings, communication and learning have historically occurred in the NFL. They’ve realized that, to get the maximum amount of engagement with their players, a culture shift needed to occur. To make that shift, “instead of the coaches making millennials change, the coaches [changed] to better work with the millennials.”

While some of the Millennial-friendly changes noted in the article seem simple (shorter meetings, electronic calendar-sharing vs. paper handouts, etc.), it can often be incredibly difficult for an organization to accept that their culture and rules need to evolve to accommodate the new workforce (rather than the other way around). However, willingness to promote flexibility and adaptability of long-standing workplace customs will be a key driver to the attractiveness of organizations to the Millennial workforce, which will likely prove critical to businesses’ ability to innovate and growth.

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