Growing professionally while working from home - worries from young employees

Moniek Schoenmaker - Jong Rabo Board Member

How can I continue to grow when I work from home? How do I keep in touch with the company, with my colleagues? And how do others experience not working at the office? These are questions that many young employees are struggling with. For them, working from home brings different challenges than for colleagues who have been working in an office for years. Moniek Schoenmaker, board member of Jong Rabo, talks about the remote working experiences of Jong Rabo's members and how we can ensure the professional growth of young colleagues. "Working from home has a huge impact on young people's careers. And if we want to retain their talent, we need to actively ensure that they can grow and develop."

“For us it all started with the cancellation of the annual Jong Rabo ski trip. I had just started as the activities coordinator on the board. It was hard to accept the cancellation of something so exciting. But we thought: we will organise something new in a month’s time.” Moniek laughs: “Little did we know, that was the beginning of a new era of remote work. And the kick-off for the organisation of many online events!”

Moniek Schoenmaker

Conference with asparagus farmers

Moniek has been a member of Jong Rabo since her first year at Rabobank. “When I started as a trainee five years ago, I learned a lot about banking and the business side of the job. But I also wanted to discover how I could develop further as young professional. I learned that through Young Rabo’s activities. First as a member, later as chair of a committee and now as a board member.”

“Jong Rabo aims to motivate young colleagues to continue to grow and take on challenges. Everything we organise is related to work in one way or another. From personal development to company visits and networking meetings. When it suddenly had to be done online, it took some time to find our way. But visiting a company visit via video call is actually quite convenient. The asparagus farmer just took us out into the field with the camera on his phone.”

“The committees came up with so many fun activities. From a tasting event to a debate session and from yoga to a cooking workshop; all online. The activities were very successful and well attended. More than in previous years, people turned out to be in need of these kinds of meetings. For fun, for contact with colleagues and to develop oneself. All the things that were more difficult because we were working from home.”

Moniek Schoenmaker

Invisible and lonely

“During our first online events we received signals that members were struggling with work from home. The comments were so different from those of older colleagues. Many young colleagues live alone and felt lonely. Others were in an unsuitable home-working situation because they have many roommates. And almost all of them were worried about their development. They felt invisible behind their laptops at home. And they missed the contact with their colleagues, even apart from their 9-5 work.”

Rabobank wants to make an impact, but this cannot be done without people who feel connected to the bank's mission.
Moniek Schoenmaker, member of the board Young Rabo

“What really struck me was that many young people said that they had lost their connection with the company. Rabobank wants to make an impact, and that cannot be done without people who feel connected to the mission of the bank. And certainly not without the young people, the future of the company.”

Starting the conversation

The board members of Jong Rabo decided that they wanted to do something about it. Moniek: “Not just by organising activities, but more broadly. We then contacted other Rabobank units with the message: young employees are losing the connection and cannot grow any further. If you don’t actively ensure that people can develop, they will eventually leave the organisation.

This was well responded to – colleagues felt the urgency of the problem. We spoke with HR colleagues, the Ethics Committee, CHRO Janine Vos and the Works Council, among others. Everyone thought about how we could improve the situation. We set up a number of pilots, among other things to ensure that colleagues would come into contact with each other again, that they would start talking to each other again. One of these pilots is the Reverse Mentoring Programme. In it, senior colleagues are coached online by a Jong Rabo member. They share their fresh views and insights. Across all departments, we have linked people together and brought them into contact online. This has resulted in valuable interactions.”

Rabo@Anywhere: our hybrid way of working

Hybrid working will become increasingly normal in the near future: partly at home, partly online. Through co-creation sessions and consultation, Jong Rabo is involved in the Rabo@Anywhere project that is shaping the hybrid way of working.
Moniek: “An important point is that young colleagues want to learn from senior colleagues. When we were allowed to work partly in the office again last summer and autumn, I saw mainly young people in the office. They want to learn things they cannot learn from sitting behind their laptops and they want to get to know their company. Senior colleagues don’t feel that need as much and can do their work it digitally. But it is precisely the mutual contact that helps growth. We must not lose sight of that, and that is what Young Rabo is striving for!”

Moniek Schoenmaker is not only a board member of Jong Rabo, she is also a full-time Product Manager within the Wholesale & Rural Sustainable Business Development Team.