The San Francisco 49ers Offer a Lesson in Engaging Millennials

When you see the term “recruitment” in association with professional football, you probably assume that it has something to do with the college draft or pre-season team member selection. At the very least, you wouldn’t automatically assume that it has anything to do with your own job recruitment site. But a recent TalentCulture story concerning the San Francisco 49ers organization brings up a very interesting point both entities need to think about — engaging that critical age demographic known as Millennials.

RELATED: How To Attract Millennials To Your Company

Changing the Game Plan

The gist of the story is that, within the space of only a month, head coach Jim Tomsula went from “not liking” social media (or displaying any interest in it at all) to making it a key factor in team leadership and management. Team meetings are now both shorter and more visual/interactive in nature. Schedules are now distributed to mobile devices instead of being printed out on paper. What’s more, Tomsula himself is engaging in reverse mentoring by becoming educated on his players’ various apps and technologies.

What happened to spur this major shift? Tomsula realized that most of the players he was leading were Millennials, individuals in their mid-20s who shared certain clear traits and preferences. If he wanted to relate to these players in a way that facilitated leadership, he needed to engage them in their own language, so to speak. Once that common ground is established and trust gained, he and other coaches in his situation can impart their wisdom, inspiration, motivation and knowledge in a way that really sinks in.

Beyond the Gridiron

The 49ers’ innovation can be said to mirror the larger challenge faced by all industries and professions today — that of engaging Millennials and bringing them fully on board, emotionally and intellectually. Tomsula’s instinct that communication is key appears to be right on the money. Fortune notes that they place great value on transparency and authenticity of communication in the workplace. This means that employers must be ready to smooth any and all communication pathways, making themselves as accessible as possible. The same presumably goes for the recruitment sites that reach out to this segment of the population on the employers’ behalf.

The Role of Social Media

Millennials’ involvement with social media is a key factor in grabbing their attention and giving them the interactivity and clarity of communication they crave. Tomsula’s decision to cut team meetings down from 2 hours to 30 minutes highlights another characteristic of Millennials — relatively short attention spans and low boredom thresholds. The highly visual, cut-to-the-chase social media environment, therefore, suits the Millennial mindset ideally well.

According to the American Press Institute, Facebook is the principal source of news for a whopping 88 percent of Millennials. (The younger the Millennial, the more likely that person is to rely on multiple social networks instead of just one or two.) This makes social media a hugely important tool for recruiters courting this generation of workers. The ability to push recruitment ads from local or “niche” sites out to a wide range of major job board resources is, therefore, a feature these publishers should add to their feature set.

By reaching Millennials where they live — through social media and other interactive online tools — today’s recruiters can indeed take a useful lesson from the actions of the 49ers organization. Make the necessary adjustments to your online recruitment options, and your own business may just win the big one!

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