The Work Attitudes of Millennials in Collegiate Recreational Sports


  • Timothy B. Kellison The Florida State University
  • Yu Kyoum Kim The Florida State University
  • Marshall J. Magnusen Baylor University


Group dynamics, human resource management, job satisfaction, millennials, organizational citizenship behavior, organizational identification


Today, the millennials—those born between the early 1980s and the mid- to late 1990s—are the fastest growing and most racially diverse segment of the workforce. Previous literature has characterized employees from the millennial generation as self-focused, extrinsically motivated, and desiring recognition for their work; media caricatures have broadly portrayed the group as pampered and entitled. Such characteristics may not be amenable to careers in sport and recreation, which often require significant time commitments and offer relatively low compensation (monetary or otherwise) in return. This potential conflict means the influx of millennials in the sport and recreation industry may confront managers with significant challenges in recruiting, managing, and retaining these employees. Alternatively, however, the existing literature on the work characteristics of millennials may not sufficiently describe those employed in the sport and recreation field. In this study, structural equation modeling of data collected from 522 millennial recreational sports employees representing eight higher education institutions revealed a range of relationships among motivators (recognition, job control, shared core values, work itself, work schedule flexibility, satisfactory  pay rate), member reactions (organizational identification, job satisfaction), and responses in productivity (organizational citizenship behavior, investment in work, turnover intentions). Recognition, job control, and shared core values were significantly related to organizational identification, and work itself, work schedule flexibility, and satisfactory pay rate were significantly related to job satisfaction. With regard to the practical outcomes, organizational identification was significantly related to organizational citizenship behavior and investment in work, and job satisfaction was significantly related to investment in work and turnover intentions (negatively). These findings suggest human resource management practices may not need altering to account for intergenerational differences. The authors advocate for further scholarly analysis of the millennial generation within the sport and recreation industry. The findings indicate previous descriptions of the millennial generation may be inaccurate when applied to a recreational sports context. Therefore, inter- and intragenerational comparisons are necessary to identify the sources of the contradiction between millennial expectations and career realities. This study also has implications for practitioners, who can use the profile of millennial employees to assist in the development of an organizational culture that embraces citizenship behaviors and job commitment and reduces employee turnover intentions.

Author Biographies

Timothy B. Kellison, The Florida State University

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sport Management

Yu Kyoum Kim, The Florida State University

Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management

Marshall J. Magnusen, Baylor University

Assistant Professor, Department of Health, Human Performance & Recreation





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