ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader in Sports, is the leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets with over 50 business entities. The sports giant is committed to excellence, with a corporate culture that requires everyone to contribute and grow. The ESPN workforce is competitive and supportive, with camaraderie similar to what one would expect in a great sports team.
The Production Operations Department of ESPN invited Cam Marston to speak to its supervisor team as part of an all-day workshop dedicated to improving retention among its youngest employees. With the leadership fully entrenched in Baby Boomer thinking and a workforce primarily comprised of 20-somethings, the Production team was noticing a growing divide that endangered ESPN’s culture of teamwork. Cam shared information about Millennials and Gen Xers that both validated and explained the challenges supervisors were facing on a daily basis. More important, he offered ways that ESPN supervisors could reach out to younger workers in a genuine and effective manner to bridge the divide and improve retention.
The explanation of generational differences combined with best practices from a variety of industries validated organizational structure changes currently under discussion, such as the need to reduce the number of employees under each supervisor thereby increasing mentoring opportunities. Further, the approaches discussed in the meeting have been incorporated in the rollout plan for this organizational shift. The Production Operations team is taking care to ensure all employees will understand that the new structure is intended to improve the working environment, help employees maintain their identities, and empower all employees to take ownership of the ESPN brand and culture. In addition to specifics surrounding this department-wide structural change, supervisors report an increased commitment to putting generational perspectives into practice. For example, many supervisors are taking a new approach to team meetings so that every member has a role and a voice. These changes speak to the Millennial and Gen Xer need to retain a strong sense of self within the structure of a large corporate identity.