Interview with Pascal Dijkens: How do you strengthen your position in the labor market?

As an international organization, how do you strengthen your position in the labor market?

In this interview, we speak to Pascal Dijkens (Linkedin) of Van Ameyde (website), a business service provider and IT systems developer specializing in providing solutions throughout the entire insurance value chain. Van Ameyde is an international company employing 1,500 people spread across several offices in Europe.

Pascal has a dual role at Van Ameyde: he is the Director of Risk and Compliance as well as Chief of Staff. In these positions, Pascal is involved in risk management activities at Van Ameyde, as well as a variety of additional activities at the holding company level.

Great diversity and a high degree of expertise

Pascal Dijkens: “Van Ameyde is a special organization because of the amount of sectors as well as companies which we operate throughout Europe. The holding company is like an umbrella over the group which consists of over 45 individual companies. Van Ameyde employs claims handlers, personal injury specialists, IT professionals, appraisers, claims experts, and other specialists that are all experts in their fields. Whether it’s complicated IT solutions or determining complex medical damages, this high level of expertise and the great diversity in the organization makes Van Ameyde a very compelling company.

In 2021, it became clear to us that due to developments in the market, it was becoming increasingly difficult for a number of companies in our group to bring in new talent. We also saw more turnover over the years. When focusing on the Scandinavian countries, Germany and Spain, we saw that the market for talent was becoming increasingly difficult. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the problem was also growing. Of course, this is also related to the fact that the market in which we are searching for talent is quite limited. We employ people with a solid dose of expertise. They are generally difficult to attract. There is also the challenge of finding someone who both really understands the business and fits within the organization.”

Organizing involvement and participation from the different international branches

Pascal: “With the managers from all the different companies, we then decided to start our ‘War for Talent’ Program that had the goal of helping the different organizations attract new people and retain employees. Because of the urgency, we felt the need to keep the momentum going. We implemented the tight project in 2022, including an onboarding program, HR Hub, HR Community, job site, and – as one of the key pillars – the employee value proposition (EVP). We also joined Branddoctors as a strategic partner to guide us through this.

An important condition for the success of the project was the buy-in and support from our daughter companies. We, therefore, involved HR colleagues from all regions in the project group. The HR function for the countries that are located outside the Netherlands is locally based. This is in contrast to the marketing function, which, in our organization, is vested in the holding company.

We started with a number of interactive sessions with this project group. In these, we worked with questions such as: What is so important in our job and what binds us to Van Ameyde? These whiteboard sessions took place online. We then interviewed people within Europe about their drivers and motivators. We asked both groups of people who have worked with us for some time, as well as relatively new people about why they like working for us. The interviews with these 30 people now form the basis of our brand story and our EVP story.”

Rolling out our Brand Story

Pascal: “We flew in 6 employees from various business lines to our office in Rijswijk to tell their stories. They did that while being on film and used building blocks as a sort of prop. It is very cool – the people who appear in the film are our indeed people. They share their feelings about Van Ameyde and those feelings create our group expression: The Van Ameyde feeling.

“While securing the stories of others, build your own”.That is our EVP story. This really comes from our people.

While securing the stories of others, build your own. That is our EVP story, and it really comes from our people. Our work is about helping others. But, at Van Ameyde, you are also empowered to build your own story. Our people are central at Van Ameyde.

Accompanied by post-its, t-shirts, conversation starters, and the building blocks, we used this film to launch the EVP internally. When we showed the film the first time in late 2022 to full management, it was received with loud applause.

One of the video interviews with employees

After the kick-off, the internal launch took place company by company. We facilitated each subsidiary to do the internal launch themselves. They really have to want and propagate it themselves. We believe in the independence of our companies. We facilitate it, but you as a country have to take it up yourself and use it in a way that suits your company and the prevailing culture.”

How do you keep it alive? Embedding EVP in the organization

Pascal: “After the story is launched, there is a question: how do you keep the initiative alive? That is a very important question. The people who were involved in the project feel the impact of the project very strongly, but we are far from where we want to be overall. So, we started with an HR Hub which was based on Microsoft Teams and Sharepoint. These are the platforms where our HR people connect, share initiatives and experiences, exchange templates, and come up with improvement proposals. For example, there is an onboarding manual and a Van Ameyde academy which includes tool kits.  It is a truly interactive Van Ameyde HR community with a sort of flywheel effect: we learn from each other, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.

In the meantime, I have transferred the initiative to an internal project leader, because now that it is ready, continuity is especially important. This is something that the companies do themselves, together with the project leader who coordinates all relevant aspects.

Now we have shifted focus to the external launch and showing future talent who we are, what we stand for, and what we find important as an organization. First of all, this means that we launched a job portal, where our own people will be visible on the corporate website. We have also reflected the EVP on this job portal and in our vacancies. We launched this jobportal centrally at first, to generate as much traction and commotion as possible. Of course, the countries are still free to start rolling this out de-centrally as well.”

Tips to other diverse and/or international companies

  1. Be careful. It is not just a project that you do on the side. It takes time and attention to think it through and work it out.
  2. Involve the companies. Don’t create it from your ivory tower. You have to do it together. Engage with people who work for you.
  3. Actively work on stakeholder management. This is difficult and sometimes a bit elusive. For example, the management of companies within our group are ambassadors to carry it out. You really need ambassadors who keep actively repeating this.
  4. Use a strategic partner if you don’t have that expertise yourself. With us, this ultimately helped ensure that the result was supported by everyone.
  5. Keep giving this topic attention because it is never finished. The project to get there is 1. After that you really have to focus on embedding it in the organization and you have to pay continuous attention to that together.

To conclude

Pascal: “What I am really happy about is that we have taken our employees as the starting point in this process. That we formulated our EVP story together with them. When we showed the film in which people tell their own story, people were really touched by it and it just gave them goose bumps. That people then said to me: This is who we are. At that point, I had achieved my personal goal.”

Dit interview is opgetekend door Winnie Nijhoff. Wil je ook aan de slag met employer branding, lees dan meer employer branding, download onze whitepaper ‘employer value proposition’ of neem contact op met Winnie.

Gepubliceerd op
2 mei 2023

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