A multi-national unit of a financial services company was lagging in its attraction and retention of millennial staff and customers. Its previous “millennial talent strategy” went nowhere as it was created primarily by senior leadership without sufficient involvement and input from the younger cohort. The steering committee tasked with tackling the ‘millennial challenge’ decided that a new strategy was needed, one that would be created by and for young professionals.
The steering committee decided to launch a Syntegration to create this strategy. They gathered millennial employees, along with a few senior leaders, from across 17 different countries for two days to answer the question: What can our company do in the next two years to become the leading financial services company for millennials to work for and with? The group came up with an agenda of topics to discuss, which ranged from rethinking career paths, attracting talent based on shared purpose and values, embracing various work-styles, understanding what millennials want from financial services, etc.
At first, the participants felt they were probably wasting their time since most of them had been involved in previous efforts on the same subject that seemingly went nowhere. But as they recognized the opportunity at hand, to speak and be heard, to mix with young professionals from other countries and with the selected senior leaders, they began speaking more frankly and the discussion deepened and became more real for them. As a participant remarked, “It seems that our company wants to actually listen to us.”
After a few days of robust discussion, the team, most of whom had never worked with each other before, came up with a series of recommendations they all believed in: Writing a company manifesto for workplace flexibility, re-branding their company’s purpose in terms that better resonated with their values, embedding input from millennials into HR practices, etc. At the end of the Syntegration, one participant said, “I’ve been working here for five years and I’ve never experienced this level of collaboration, even though we’ve only known each other for two days.”
In the beginning of the Syntegration, many participants wanted to remain anonymous. Towards the end, though, the entire room was comfortable, if not enthusiastic, about attaching their names and faces to the recommendations. The group decided to take an unconventional approach to presenting its recommendations to the senior leadership teams from, and across their respective countries, creating a seven-minute video that brought to life their recommendations in their own words and from their own mouths, instead of relying on the senior leaders in the room to relay their ideas. They launched a ‘Young Professionals’ council from amongst their group and its membership took on the responsibility of presenting these recommendations, country-by-country, and ensuring they would be heard and implemented.
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