What Makes Sports Organisations a Great Place to Work?
In order to appeal to the next generation of talent within a congested and competitive marketplace, sports organisations needs to pay heed to how they are perceived by potential candidates. Employer branding must showcase a purpose and ethos that align with those of its target demographic, while internal policies and infrastructure should form part of an attractive package.
"The need for organisations to showcase who they are, their values and actively engage with potential talent through their employment brand strategy is critical," says GlobalSportsJobs CEO Will Lloyd.
Those "values" are more important to the Millennial workforce than any previous generation. They want a clearly-communicated answer to the question 'why?'. This is what engages, drives and motivates them.
"Purpose and values are what makes future employees' clocks tick. The leading tech industries we know today tend to be the ones that 'get' this," comments Bas Schnater, Head of Marketing Strategy and Fan Engagement at Eredivisie club AZ Alkmaar and graduate of Johan Cruyff University.
INTERSPORT, the global sporting goods retail experts, place great emphasis on the welfare of its staff, with policies that support a healthy work-life balance.
That manifests itself in on-site fitness facilities, generous maternity and paternity leave policies and flexible working hours and reduced percentages for working parents, such as Fumi Kolly-Yoshida. Since having her daughter in 2004, she describes the firm's flexible approach to working as "a win-win for both me and the company.”
Fun staff events are also effective at fostering a sense of togetherness that can also engage and engender loyalty amongst staff. Monthly 'Thursday beer' nights, running groups, football matches, holiday parties and the annual IIC Day all do this effectively. The IIC Day is a team competition comprising sports and mental or creative games.
Premier League club Everton have put in place a sophisticated fan engagement strategy that uses technology to unite everyone connected with the club – fans and employees – in a unified 'family' with a common goal.
By using personalisation and segmentation tools, they create a deep, personal relationship with each fan, understanding their individual attitudes and behaviours. This is used not just for commercial outcomes but to deliver a real sense of belonging to the 'Everton Family'.
This sense of unity is present on all the club's digital channels. "Across all platforms, we abide by our core values of being a family, being authentic and representing the Club’s determination and ambition," says Scott McLeod, Everton's Head of Engagement.
As well as a sense of belonging, empowerment is another strong motivating factor in candidates being attracted to, and dedicating themselves fully to, their employer's mission. Those who are given creative freedom and some influence in how things are done are more likely to show loyalty and commitment in return.
One of the most important ways to make employees feel valued and engaged, especially in large global organisations, is listening to staff and providing a sense of ownership. At Nielsen Sports, the premier provider of analytics and insights within the sports industry, they take their expertise in understanding their clients' customers and apply it to their own staff too.
"We invest a lot of energy in making sure that our business internally represents the many fans and consumers we measure externally," commented Nielsen.
Nielsen has its own 'People Analytics' function that includes the myVoice survey. This gives its associates across the world the chance to share their views. They then form the basis for strategic decision-making about working life at the company.
The firm have developed what it calls the Nielsen Employee Experience, which is to #beyourself, #makeadifference and #growithus. "We want our associates to share in our success and we are passionate about developing and growing our people just as we are with our company," they told GlobalSportsJobs.
In the digital world, the reputation of any sports organisation – good or bad – will spread rapidly. This is why employer branding, and all the activity and policy that sit behind that, are so crucial in building and maintaining a vibrant, fulfilled and highly motivated workforce.