Blog: The War of Talent

Blog: The War of Talent

2023-06-12 | Blog | war on Talent Pieter HalenbeekMonday 12 June 2023 17:08

- The War of Talent - A topic that is frequently discussed during meetings involving CIOs, HR directors and other stakeholders within the IT sector. Also within the government, programmes have been started under the banner of I-skills that should give substance to the recruitment and, of course, retention of (new) colleagues. An excellent subject for us, CIO Platform Nederland members, to share our experiences and thus make each other stronger.

KVK also has vacancies, and a recruitment team including about four IT recruiters is working daily to bring in the right candidates. Because there are vacancies, I regularly get e-mails and phone calls from well-meaning organisations eager to help me recruit qualified employees. My answer is basically always the same: "Thanks for your offer, but we have it 'under control'." But what does that entail, "having it under control"?

Four years ago, when I came in, KVK had 50% externals out of over 350 IT professionals. No Java developers had been recruited for several years because "the market was completely closed". On my first working day, I was given several assignments, and one of them was to reduce the external population to 20-25%. Together with HRM, we have not been idle in recent years. We have now hired over 350 IT professionals (including dozens of Java), the number of IT professionals has risen to 550 and 30% are still external (so we are not there yet). The outflow rate has been reduced from around 15% to roughly 9% and engagement has increased from 7.2 to 7.7.

What is now the key to (the relative) success is hard to say, but there are several factors that I think have played a role.

Success factor 1. The agile transformation: reduce frustration-creating handovers between digital product teams and their users
In 2020, we started with a blueprint to transform our entire organisation into a Spotify-based model. We adapted the blueprint in 2021 so that it could be working for KVK, and on 1 March 2022 we pivoted. More than 40 IT teams have become part of the business and thus are no longer the responsibility of the IT & CIO director. The five business directors are all responsible for their own customer journey and have their own teams that develop and manage the products and services that feed the customer journey. How that works together, I am happy to explain in a future blog. Our structure, where business and IT are brought together, proves to be an attractive trigger for job seekers.

Success factor 2. Leverage your social relevance
It should be no secret that generation Y and Z are more attentive to the organisation's 'purpose'. In addition, serving entrepreneurs has become increasingly relevant; in 2022, there were over 300,000 new registrants in the Trade Register, more than 100,000 compared to a few years ago. We also try to be (more) diverse and give substance to this by, among other things, recruiting 10 to 14 lateral entrants in the IT domain every year in close cooperation with Make IT Work and the HVA. We also employ over 20 internationals - unique for the government - mainly from India and South Africa. We find that applicants like these initiatives, as well as our new payoff "Handholds for Entrepreneurs" and everything behind it. See Britt's earlier blog from 3 April for further tips in the D&I domain.

Success factor 3. Staying attractive and connected
We have found that transformation and relevance has helped us, but you can't achieve it with that alone. As an organisation, you have to stay relevant and interesting. I organise a lunch every month to meet new colleagues. I tell something about our journey and where we want to go, and then ask "Why KVK?" and "What are your first experiences?". To the first question, we indeed get back the transformation and relevance, but also the application process. In the process, colleagues at KVK speak with pride about their work, which is contagious. To the second question, this is confirmed again. Onboarding is good, although even with us a device is not always received on time or something does not work. Moreover, colleagues are open to all kinds of questions and help where they can. In daily life, we are a normal company like many others, where things could be different and better. We try to be open about that and see how we solve problems together. For example, to help teams and team members grow in their maturity, we 'bought' Ordina's High Performing Team concept. Coaches from KVK and Ordina are currently working on the implementation and the first results are very good. We can see that this investment is appreciated and after the pilot with five teams, the remaining 40-plus teams are eager to become HPT too.  

What else: keep the vibe alive in your teams!
On 16 and 17 June, we will organise a hackathon where 60 colleagues will spend two days working on two challenges. Great tools from Microsoft, datasets from chain parties, guest speakers and lots of entertainment should ensure that these will be great days.

To conclude:
To take on The War of Talent, you have to work hard. With a good Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and clear positioning of your organisation in the ecosystem, you can win it, or at least not lose it. Our recruiters and practice leads also like to see things go faster and better, but if colleagues bring in referrals and externals want to become permanent employees (30 in the last three years), then I am satisfied. With the right focus and energy, we try to do a little better every day.

Pieter Halenbeek
CIO | Director IT | Group Lead Solide Fundament


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