Creative with a staff shortage: ‘My inbox is overflowing with registrations’

The staff shortage is no longer limited to the catering and healthcare sectors. Bicycle repair shops and childcare centers are also in the thick of things in 2021. How do they get people?

There are now more vacancies than unemployed, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Problems arise in almost all sectors. “I have a day job filling roster gaps and looking for staff,” a daycare previously told RTL Z.

Own training

In the hunt for specialists and technicians, grid operator Enexis has already set up its own training course. The company also recruits status holders, because staff no longer come to you automatically.

The shortage is now so great that employers’ organization VNO NCW is calling on the aspiring cabinet to make haste with policy. All options should be on the table, says chairman Ingrid Thijssen. “The shortage is structural, we already knew that before corona.”

‘No problems with tightness’

Not everyone suffers from this tightness. Joost Kamermans (29), co-founder of the Amsterdam software company Seenons, only started his company two years ago. It now has more than thirty employees. At the end of the year there should be forty and at the beginning of next year fifty, he says.

“My inbox is overflowing with registrations,” says the entrepreneur. “We just don’t have enough hands to handle them.”

‘You must have a mission’

Seenons has no trouble finding people, says the entrepreneur. Many young people work at the start-up, which helps companies and processors with the recycling of waste. “We have a tool that looks at the average age and according to that tool I am old,” he laughs.

Kamermans also has an explanation for the enthusiasm to work for his company. You have to work on a topic that interests people, he says. “If you as a company are mission-driven and really want to improve the system, there are more than enough intrinsically motivated candidates.”

Better society

The younger generation of workers is looking for meaningful work, they want to contribute to a better society and that is exactly what Seenons does according to the founder. Simply increasing the salary is no longer sufficient, according to the entrepreneur.

“You will have to look critically at your own organization and ask yourself: what is my social mission?”

Drinks and flex work

Tapas restaurant ‘t Zusje in Terneuzen also attracts many young people, says owner Joost d’Hondt. In 2018 he converted an old post office into a catering business with a partner. He started with forty employees and during the corona crisis he seconded some of my employees to local companies, such as Action, Gamma and Lidl.

But now the staff with more than 70 people is back to war strength. D’Hondt hardly has any trouble finding people. “We have a closing drink for our staff seven days a week,” he says. “You can decide for yourself when you work, it is very flexible. This is possible because we have a large pool of people.”

Family feeling

According to the entrepreneur, his staff receives more than the minimum wage, but not drastic amounts. “It’s not the reason people stay, it’s because we have a sense of family,” he says. “We don’t have employees, but family members, that makes it unique.”

d’Hondt also does something else to recruit people. He works with what he calls ‘open hiring.’ Anyone who is interested can walk into the store and leave his or her name on a list. No experience, distance to the market or a backpack? No problem.

No applications

“We have collected thirty names in a short time and hired three people, without applying for a job,” says the entrepreneur.

This was also done in collaboration with the local department of the UWV. The participants first went on a short internship. For example, there is now someone working in the cleaning service who has the ambition to become a cook in the future. Someone also works under supervision in the kitchen.

Internships, the solution?

And let internship be the magic word to connect people and especially young people to your company, says internship expert and author of The Great Internship Book for Employers, Maarten Brand. Is it the solution for the tightness? “For the sake of argument I say yes, but it needs nuance,” he says.

Companies that work well with interns have less difficulty attracting and retaining staff. And that applies to all branches, says the consultant who works a lot with companies in the healthcare and technical sector. “An internship is secretly a job interview of several months,” he says.

Time consuming and expensive

Both parties can joke in an hour, but you can’t last for a few months. That is why, according to Brand, an internship is the perfect tool to get to know each other. “It gives you time to settle in, explore the culture and grow, on favorable terms.”

Companies that think that an internship is time-consuming and expensive should immediately let go of that idea, says the expert. “Busy? If people leave and you don’t replace them, you’re even busier. You eat yourself,” he says. And that will cost you money anyway.

be there early

Admittedly, it is not easy for everyone to find interns. Sometimes the youngsters are already off the market before they finish the training. That is why, according to Brand, it is important to be there early: with company visits and snooping internships, for example. “You should not arrive in the last year with a vacancy, then you will be too late.”

It’s all about image and more importantly giving your student a good experience. “Companies need to realize that they are the candidate and not the other way around.” According to Brand, good internships focus on experience:

“Take care of a patient or install a solar panel, that is possible with a thousand others. It is about the feeling you give students.”

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