Saudi Aramco develops digital app to engage millennials

Author: Criselda Diala-McBride | Date: 7 Jun 2016

Bridging the generational divide is a challenge, says its executive head of global talent management at the recent ATD Middle East conference

Recognising the important role technology plays in the lives of millennials has allowed Saudi Aramco to develop and engage young talent while bridging the generational divide, says Brent Mattson, the organisation’s executive head of global talent management and development.

At the recent ATD Middle East conference in Dubai, Mattson discussed the oil giant’s ‘My Future’ app, which focuses on career development through gamification, assessment of employees’ interests, deep engagement with managers, and social learning.

“Demographic challenge is an issue faced by many organisations throughout the Middle East,” he says. “For Generation Y, [technology] is how they want to learn and acquire information, and transfer knowledge. In order to develop and engage them, we need solutions that are capable of tapping into those [elements].”

Launched in January this year, My Future offers employees learning tools to improve their skills, gives managers insights into what motivates and inspires their staff, and provides the organisation with critical data to measure engagement and assess development action plans.

Mattson, who oversees the company’s 4,300 millennial employees, says talent development and career opportunities are the most vital components in the creation of a strong employee value proposition (EVP).

“We realise that there are gaps between how leaders want to run their operation and what young talent wants in order to build new skills, take on responsibility and eventually get promoted,” he explains.

Before developing the app, Saudi Aramco surveyed its 100 most senior leaders and 4,300 entry-level employees, finding that – despite their differences – millennials and managers agree on a number of issues, such as tapping into the aspirations and engagement of young people; building skills; and having employees who understand the business and can align their behaviours with corporate norms.

To maximise its potential, the app was integrated into the organisation’s development programme for fresh graduates and is being used as a recruitment tool. Training courses for career counsellors and managers were also included in the app.

“We're leveraging social media to sustain progress. As part of that effort, we've included a function called crowd-sourced mentoring to accelerate real-time learning, where users can ask for help, get feedback, support each other and rate mentors,” Mattson adds.

The app also features a personal web page, which Mattson describes as a “fun version of LinkedIn.” Users can specify their hobbies and interests, and have the option to share their assessment results. The app also provides data on top competencies, the average level of engagement and the percentage of employees who are ready for a change in their role.

“But the most powerful element of this data is not the extent to which we can look at adoption, but how we can use this for training and needs analysis, and for supporting engagement strategies,” says Mattson.