Jos Schut: VSO - Transforming Our People For Over A Decade

Photo Credit: VSO, Jan Spoll

By Jos Schut, UK HR Director, Randstad

This year we’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of seconding our corporate employees to VSO projects around the world. It’s a proud moment in our partnership. What makes it even more special is that our relationship has not only made a difference to VSO, it’s made a difference to our people. If other businesses are considering whether to donate their people time rather than the more traditional cash funding, I can only say “do it”.

The desire to apply our knowledge and skills to help alleviate poverty in communities outside our regular remit was a deciding factor in partnering with VSO. While Randstad and VSO operate in a very different context, we essentially do the same thing: we both match people to the right jobs. It simply makes sense to apply the knowledge and expertise of one partner to help the work of the other.

We are ideally placed to help VSO strengthen their organisation on the one hand. For example when we helped VSO overhaul their global recruitment and placement systems or by using our networks to help VSO attract more volunteers. While on the other hand, we employ thousands of qualified professionals whom VSO can tap as overseas volunteers. Our employees bring brains, know-how, better processes and better ways of working together to places we don’t commercially go normally.

Over 150 Randstad employees have volunteered with VSO and I’ve been lucky enough during my career in Randstad to directly support two placements with VSO. While were very different, the two placements are fantastic examples of the benefits – both expected and unexpected – on both sides.

The first came about when I was based in the Netherlands, where one of my HR team left for a three-month assignment to a school in Zambia. Using her HR skills, Linda was instrumental in putting a people structure in place to ensure the school maximized the value it could bring to the local community. And, when Linda returned, I could see that just 12 weeks of her using her experience in a very different way and in a very different environment, had given her an even greater skill set. Her influencing and collaboration skills were simply superb because she’d had to be creative and use new tactics that perhaps she’d never have adopted in our corporate environment. It was a huge success.

I then moved to the UK and whilst I’ve been here a situation arose where one of our top recruiters became aware of a fantastic opportunity to work with VSO to help create their volunteer recruitment strategy. For Joanna, this home based role corresponded with a move in her personal life due to her partner’s posting to another location. And for us this was a fantastic development: by supporting her assignment with VSO, Joanna van remain part of our organisation now, and we hope that when her project comes to the end, it will coincide with new opportunities within our own business so she can continue her career with us with an even stronger mix of skills.

As our global CEO, Jacques van den Broek, says “When volunteers return from their assignment and share what they did and what they experienced, their eyes light up. And that is beautiful.”

In addition to an increased skill set, volunteers bring back an elevated sense of pride and engagement. Not only are they proud of what they’ve achieved on a personal level, they’re proud of VSO for what doing what they do. And they’re proud of Randstad for supporting VSO and for giving employees the opportunity to volunteer. This in turn makes them more engaged, more loyal and more than willing to go the extra mile in the work environment.

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Comment by Rashpal Saini on August 5, 2014 at 8:12

Great! Are their any examples of "intrapreneurs" emerging from the pool of returned volunteers?

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