At an historic UN summit in September 2015, world leaders formally committed to the set of 17 “sustainable development goals” that form the heart of the UN’s ambitious 2030 Agenda. The 8th of these goals calls for the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic development, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Everyone understands that achieving these noble outcomes will, inevitably, require meaningful changes in public policy. But it will also require deep changes in what private sector institutions do and, every bit as important, in the ways they organize themselves to do it.
When individuals at work feel unheard, unseen, and undervalued, their daily experience on the job alienates instead of engages. When they feel unable to make real contributions because the levers for doing so lie well out of reach, fat paychecks flowing to the accounts of distant barons offer neither satisfaction nor incentive, but only fuel for discontent and anger. This has always been true. For the millennials now and soon to be in the workforce, the truth goes deeper still. Their expectations are higher, their skills greater, and their patience lower than those of the generations before them. They are poised to contribute and have much to contribute. If their work offers them no effective means to do so, they will be frustrated and all of society will be the poorer – and the more fragile.
In practice, this means that corporate MANAGERS will need to find new and compelling ways in which to tap, harness, and leverage the knowledge, skills, energy, and commitment of theIR millennial COLLEAGUES. Companies, positions, and work assignments must do more than just organize and support them. They must energize and engage them. Indeed, every plausible road to SDG 8 passes through the gate of engagement.
Accordingly, Citizen Cyberlab, The GovLab , Nestlé and the Alliance4YOUTH partners are sponsoring a challenge for up to 80 students from across Swiss universities. Teams of no more than 5 or 6 from across universities will each choose a sector within which to focus and, then, devise an integrated plan for how a company operating in that sector can best use available tools, diagnostic frameworks, information and social technologies, and managerial approaches to engage and energize their people.
Every week for 5 weeks, beginning October 2016, all teams will have access to a 2 hour, on-line expert coaching session, which is designed to support them in framing the challenge as they think best, managing team process and dynamics, becoming familiar with relevant information and social technologies, and putting together and rehearsing their final “pitch” – a 10 minute-per-team presentation, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A – for delivery on 23 November at Nestle in Geneva to a judging panel including A4Y members and a UN representative. Prizes will be given for the best overall pitch and the best presentation.