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Zorgwerk: tackling scarcity in the care system

Category:
Buy & Build

Date:
17 March 2020

In the more than 20 years since Zorgwerk was founded, the company has expanded to become the largest nationwide specialist in staffing solutions for healthcare, welfare and childcare. The biting scarcity of qualified care professionals has pushed the organisation to explore new avenues, says Zorgwerk CEO Daniëlle van der Burg. “In these times of scarcity, it’s more effective to build a strong bond with existing staff than to recruit new people.”

First things first: what exactly does Zorgwerk do?
“We focus exclusively on recruiting and selecting care staff for our clients. Our clients operate in every industry, from home care and nursing to care for the disabled and mental health, and from hospitals to childcare. The company is originally from Rotterdam, but now we operate throughout the Netherlands. We help thousands of care professionals working for hundreds of different clients every day, and that’s brought us a well-earned 25% market share across the country.”

What sets you apart from the other 75% of providers? 
“What makes Zorgwerk different is our new way of thinking and working. The traditional approach is no longer sustainable in the face of the current shortage of qualified staff, so we began digitising the entire deployment process at an early stage. Instead of working from fixed locations, we bring together demand and supply on our online Zorgwerk platform. That not only lets us link the right staff members with the right clients, but also increases employees’ effectiveness, job satisfaction and engagement with each other. Our platform makes it possible for us to find the right person with the right qualifications in the right place, and create a match with our clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

The media is full of stories about the shortage of qualified people in healthcare, welfare and childcare. How have you managed to meet the great demand for care professionals in spite of that shortage?
“Because we offer our care professionals something more: empowerment. We want to be the best employer in the care sector, by giving professionals control of their schedules, by offering personal development through training, events, peer teaching and coaching, and by listening to and really valuing our staff. Being a good employer is very important in building a good connection with our people, which makes it a good way to minimise outflow. In these times of scarcity, it’s more effective to build a strong bond with existing staff than to recruit new people. But we don’t only focus on the bond between Zorgwerk and our staff; we also build a connection with our clients. Basically, we see creating a bond with staff as an important assignment for us and for our clients.”

What are the main things you look for when recruiting and selecting care professionals? 
“Let me put it this way: for us, it’s not just about good qualifications – it’s also about the right attitude, long-term employability and hospitality. Our view of care goes beyond simply nursing: our training programmes and events make our staff more enthusiastic, which means they can feel more at home with every person they care for. Consistently maintaining this approach has helped us build a large pool of top-quality care professionals over the years, including nurses, caregivers, companions and early-years teachers.”

So the pillars of Zorgwerk’s success are the size and quality of the flexible pool, combined with the modern technology you use. Do you see more opportunities there? 
“Absolutely. Demand in the care system has grown so much that simply hiring a few temporary staff members from Zorgwerk is not the answer. That’s why we look beyond our own flexible pool and also offer solutions to care organisations, so we take full advantage of the total capacity of flexible workers in the care sector. We are always improving our platform so we can make even better use of the total employee capacity of the market. We recently added the option for clients to hire freelance staff through the Zorgwerk platform. In short, the platform brings together the total employee capacity of the market and gives us the opportunity to take full advantage of that capacity.”

What are your long-term ambitions?
“We want to be the go-to platform for all flexible care professionals in the Netherlands, so that the total available employee capacity can be deployed in the best way possible and so we can make a lasting contribution to continuity in care. Then we want to take the next step by expanding the use of our technology outside the care market, which could represent a disruption in the Dutch labour market as a whole. Ultimately, we want to empower not only our own care professionals but every employee in the Netherlands, giving them the most sustainable career opportunities possible.”

NPM Capital is on board as an investor. Why are you a good fit for each other, and how will NPM Capital help Zorgwerk achieve its ambitions?
“First of all, we had a personal click, and that’s important because we’ll be working together. But really I think we’re a good fit for each other because NPM supports our ambitions for growth and is enthusiastic about the way we do things. Like us, NPM places a high value on corporate social responsibility. We also share a vision for innovation and sustainability as an integral part of our strategy, so we can respond to social issues. NPM’s ambition to be socially relevant is a powerful incentive for us to keep developing better solutions to the huge challenges we are going to face in the care sector and in the labour market in the coming years.”

And finally: what is your personal motivation as an entrepreneur? 
“To start with, I think the level of commitment you see so often in people who work in care is a beautiful thing. I don’t like it when I see the heavy pressure of work reducing that passion for care, which causes a lot of professionals to choose to work outside the care sector – when these people are so vital to our society! My analysis is that, although employees’ needs with respect to their work have changed a lot in recent years, the labour market hasn’t changed with them. I’m trying to do something about that, by emphasising empowerment in combination with technological innovation, so people have more sustainable employment and we can create a better labour market together. I hope we can inspire many other organisations with our approach. And I’m so proud of Zorgwerk, the employees and everyone who has contributed to this enterprise. I look forward to going to work every day, in a sector where I try to make the maximum possible impact with limited available capacity, by being innovative. Getting a little bit better every day makes me happy. We always say that Zorgwerk is successful because we have found a great way to combine ‘Power & Love’.”

Also read ‘NPM Capital acquires Zorgwerk from ADG dienstengroep’