The Workplace Landscape Changed…Has Your Organization Adapted?

by Travis Apple: general sports worldwide & theclubhouse®, author of Hustle Your Way to $ucce$$ in Sports Sales, and host of Podcast “52 Weeks of Hustle”
May 05, 2022

Championship-winning teams aren’t afraid to make bold fixes midway through a game, adjusting to the schemes thrown at them on the field of play. In that same way, organizations in the sports industry shouldn’t be afraid to evaluate the way they do business and change the game plan where appropriate.

This is particularly important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent because the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a series of changes that have greatly reshaped the way we work. It’s important for the sports industry, from apparel and equipment companies to professional teams and franchises, to recognize those changes and make the appropriate adjustments to attract, nurture and grow their staffs.

Countless businesses outside of the sports industry already have made those adjustments. Consider that many companies often offer generous compensation with promises of remote offices and no work on nights or weekends. Interest in these jobs is booming as of late as more and more employees seek increased flexibility and better work-life balance.

In the past, prospective employees flocked to work for sports teams because of the thrill, excitement and prestige of being part of the “team.” The shifting landscape, along with changing values and preferences of younger workers, now means those days are gone.

If you’re still doing it the same way, you’re going to fail.

As such, in order to be successful in this new environment, sports organizations must evolve. It doesn’t mean there aren’t questions to answer, including how to hold people accountable for their work or how do you set new expectations given the changing workplace or what are the new ways your organization needs to identify and recruit talent.

Organizational leaders should remember these four things as they seek to adapt to this ever-changing economic reality:

1. Identify and encourage entrepreneurial spirit: Remote work requires accountability, which means employing a more intentional approach to identifying talent. Employees who have an entrepreneurial spirit – those who can problem-solve and take ownership of various tasks – have the best chance to be successful.

2. Embrace a hybrid approach: While many sports businesses can never be truly remote, organizations should look to prepare models that mix in-office time with remote opportunities based on the responsibilities of each department. Recent surveys show that as few as four percent of workers want a full-time return to the office, so incorporating additional flexibility here can help attract potential employees.

3. Prioritize competitive compensation: Gone are the days of offering low, entry-level wages. Organizations will need to adjust wages to reflect the current marketplace with an eye on attracting, and retaining, the best talent. If an organization has a limited/fixed budget they should eschew hiring four or five employees at low wages and instead recruit two or three more experienced and/or higher talent level employees who can be compensated at a higher level.

4. Focus on training and growth: People want to be able to continue to learn, develop and progress on a pathway toward greater responsibility and leadership. Organizations that put an emphasis on systematic and frequent training and mentorship are best positioned to not only attract, but also retain talent in this environment.

The sports organizations that understand these dynamics are better suited to succeed.

For instance, the Pac 12 Conference recently announced it would be closing its central office and transitioning to a fully remote working environment. Additionally, the New York Mets, Atlanta Hawks, and many more have long put a premium on professional training and career pathway development to ensure they are competing for the best talent and providing the best opportunities for growth for their employees.

At the end of the day, these changes are all connected by the need for organizations to invest in their people. In the same way the teams we cheer for practice, watch film and learn new plays, it’s crucial for front office staffs to continually focus on their employees to equip them for success.

That’s because what’s best for the organization ultimately is what’s best for its people, and what’s best for its people is if they all are happy and successful.