From raw data to customer insights: Ton Sluiter and Peter Ellen lead the way at HeadFirst Group

In the dynamic environment of HeadFirst Group, Ton Sluiter, Manager of Data, and Peter Ellen, Journey Manager on the Customer Experience (CX) team, are at the helm of an evolution towards a future driven by data and customer experience. Their shared passion for the power of data and customer experience serves as the driving force behind their continuous pursuit of improvement and innovation.

Valuable insights

Ton enthusiastically begins by explaining the role of the data team, "We dive into all incoming data and turn it into valuable insights. Whether it's generating reports for our customers and partners, or internal information for management, our goal is to optimize operations both internally and externally."

Peter adds, "My job is to collect and analyze customer feedback. Based on that analysis, I can identify the biggest impact on how people experience our company, and work to improve." Although Peter has not been with HeadFirst Group long, he shares some successes, "I am especially proud of how quickly we have established a foundation and structure for measuring what clients think of us. This is essential because it forms the basis for improving the customer experience for the future."

"We share our passion for the power of data and customer experiences." - Ton Sluiter

Foundation for the future

Ton is optimistic about the future of data-driven work, but acknowledges that there is still room for growth: "We are currently in the data analytics phase and moving toward predictive analytics and models that help with future business decision-making. We aim to generate more insights and become truly data-driven in all our processes." Peter acknowledges this growth, having come at a time when there was no CX team. "In the beginning, the whole CX Journey Management was a blank page: nothing was fixed. It was a period of pioneering and discovering what I could add."

"It's great to see how fast we're growing, with the ability to innovate quickly." - Peter Ellen

That immediately made it interesting for me, the feeling of a blank canvas. As time went on, a clearer picture emerged of what I could contribute. CX is now rolled out for all HeadFirst Group brands."

Innovation & growth

When asked what makes his work so fascinating, Ton responds enthusiastically. "Working with data is actually similar to refining: raw data comes in, is processed and eventually leads to valuable insights. We not only collect data for its original purpose, but also discover unexpected applications. We call this serendipity. I get energized when we can take clients or ourselves further with it!"

Peter shares Ton's enthusiasm: "It's great to see how fast we are growing but still have the ability to innovate quickly. I really appreciate that drive. Our shared commitment to unlock the potential of data and improve the customer experience reflects the energy of HeadFirst Group."

Want to read more about how we operate at HeadFirst Group? Download the 2023 annual report here.


New bill introduces admissions system: what does it mean?

A new bill, the Law on the Admission of the Supply of Workers (WTTA), will begin to be debated in the House of Representatives this year. This proposal brings with it an admission system for temporary employment agencies and other companies that make workers available to a third party to work under its management and supervision. The scope of the law is thus considerably broader than just the temporary employment sector. What exactly does it entail and what impact will it have on suppliers and clients?

The new regime requires that lenders be allowed to operate in the market only if they are authorized to do so under a new regime. To be admitted, they must meet several conditions:

  • The company meets the standards framework by means of an approved inspection report provided by an inspection body designated by the Minister (article 12q Waadi);
  • A Certificate of Good Conduct for legal entities is provided (Article 12o Waadi);
  • The company deposits a deposit of €100,000 (Article 12p Waadi).

Hirers using temporary employment, secondment or payroll agencies, the so-called lenders, may only do business with agencies that have been admitted to the system by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment. The Dutch Labor Inspectorate will supervise whether in- and on-borrowers actually work with authorized lenders and whether the lenders are authorized. Failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations can result in hefty fines, both for hirers, and hirers.

Transitional regime
The bill also provides for transitional law to encourage hirers - in the run-up to the entry into force of the obligation of admission on January 1, 2026 - to apply for admission no later than June 30, 2025, who already possess an SNA seal of approval. Companies that already have this seal of approval will be admitted on the basis of the SNA seal of approval, even if they have not yet been actually inspected on the basis of the new standards framework.

Implications for in- and out-workers
For suppliers who engage in the provision of labor, this bill represents a significant change in the way they operate. To remain active in the market, they will have to be admitted to this public system. Lenders will be audited periodically (probably twice a year) on the standards framework. This therefore requires compliance with laws and regulations, as well as the necessary investment in time and resources to meet all requirements. In- and on-lenders will be prohibited from doing business with lenders who are not admitted to the system. There will be a public register to verify that the hirer is actually admitted to the system.

In essence, the WTTA will change the dynamics of the Dutch labor market, with the goal of improving the position of migrant workers, keeping rogue broadcasters out of the labor market, and thus ensuring a level playing field for all buyers and sellers. It is important for both suppliers and clients to be well informed about developments regarding the WTTA. Needless to say, we at HeadFirst Group are preparing in a timely and adequate manner so that we can continue to provide our services.


TechMeUp's mission: diversity in the tech world

Creating a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem is the mission of TechMeUp. Despite the fact that many people are eager to improve their skills and retrain to become tech professionals, not everyone has the financial means to do so. That's why TechMeUp offers interest-free loans to motivated students, giving more people access to a tech education.

Saskia Verstege, Interim Director of TechMeUp, says, "We partner with seventeen IT training providers. When students enroll in a tech course and realize it will be financially challenging, the training providers refer them to TechMeUp. When we look at the demographics of the students we help, the average age is 34, almost 60% are women, and about 80% are from immigrant backgrounds.

"Almost 60% of our students are women, and about 80% are from immigrant backgrounds." - Saskia Verstege

"We offer interest-free loans to students with an average of €4,500, depending on their needs. This loan can be used to cover the cost of the course itself, as well as living expenses during the course. For many people, finances are an obstacle to (re)starting their studies, as they may have to work less or not at all, while still paying their mortgage or rent. With the help of a loan from TechMeUp, these financial concerns are alleviated. After completing their education and finding a job, they gradually repay the loan amount in installments. With the money repaid, we help new students retrain."

Results

HeadFirst Group supports TechMeUp with a financial contribution. Thanks to this contribution, eleven students received TechMeUp student loans in 2023. Nine of the students are still studying, and two students have since graduated. In addition to the achievements made possible by HeadFirst Group's contribution, TechMeUp helped another 140 students last year with an interest-free loan. "Besides making the tech world more diverse, our work also contributes to students' financial self-sufficiency. The average salary of students before receiving a loan is €1,100, and the average salary after completing a tech training program is €2,884."

Future

"By 2024, we aim to help two hundred students with loans. In addition, we are committed to helping everyone get a job after graduation." TechMeUp's interest-free loans allow more people to access tech education and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem.

"We aim to help two hundred students by 2024, with 'a job for everyone' as our main goal."

Want to read more about how we at HeadFirst Group contribute to diversity, inclusion and other social issues? Download the 2023 Annual Report here.


Successful third edition of the Labor Market Gateway

On Tuesday, April 16, the third edition of the ArbeidsmarktPoort took place in Nieuwspoort, organized by the Bovib, the VvDN and ONL voor Ondernemers. This meeting brought together various speakers to discuss current labor market issues with each other and the audience. The central theme of this edition was labor migration, a topic that is high on the political agenda and on which opinions vary widely. It was therefore relevant to exchange ideas and discuss positions with stakeholders.

Former ChristenUnie party leader Gert-Jan Segers provided the opening remarks and explained the Delta Plan Grip op Arbeidsmigratie. Gert-Jan recently started as strategic advisor at OTTO Work Force and contributes to the public-societal debate on labor migration and the consequences for the Dutch labor market and society with such reports. The opening remarks and questions from the audience were followed by a discussion panel. Tjebbe van Oostenbruggen (Member of Parliament NSC) and Titus Kramer (entrepreneur and former honorary consul for Turkey) entered into a discussion with each other and the audience, led by Hans Biesheuvel (former chairman of ONL). The discussion generated interesting questions from the audience, especially about the NSC's position on labor migration, with the party making demands on terms and conditions of employment, conditions and housing for migrant workers. NSC also advocates an admission system to keep out rogue employment agencies, which in turn led to critical questions about the feasibility and enforcement of the proposed legislation.

In October, the fourth edition of the Labor Market Gate is planned, where interesting speakers are again expected. HeadFirst Group supports this initiative and is in favor of a constructive, factual debate on issues and challenges in the Dutch labor market. We remain committed to these meetings and look forward to the next edition.

Do you have questions about the Labor Market Gateway and our position in the labor market file? Please contact Sem Overduin, Manager Corporate Affairs & Public Policy at HeadFirst Group, at Sem.Overduin@headfirst.nl.


Digitizing for more user-centricity and shorter processes

Within HeadFirst Group, we started an important behind-the-scenes project last year: a completely revamped, digital onboarding of professionals as soon as they start working for our clients. In collaboration with screening platform Victoria ID, we are working on a faster and smarter way to conduct screenings - an important, but also time-intensive, part of onboarding. Gerjan Pranger, operations director at HeadFirst Group: "By further digitizing the process, we are creating space to give personal attention to our professionals and partners at the times when it really adds value for them."

Founder and CEO of Victoria ID, Stéphanie Eikhoudt: "With Victoria ID, we want to introduce a new validation method. Together with HeadFirst Group, we are working to reduce screening turnaround times by automating the process as much as possible. For example, we use validated ID data for simultaneous checks, which results in faster results and ensures the reliability of the information."

Accelerating processes with AI cross-check technique

Stéphanie discusses this method passionately and enthusiastically. "With our updated AI cross-check technique, we are taking data validation to the next level, where our software reads authenticity attributes faster and more accurately than ever before. This allows us to significantly speed up the screening process for all HeadFirst Group clients. We maintain high quality standards in validation processes, focusing on efficiency, ease of use and customization."

Gerjan Pranger, operations director at HeadFirst Group, is leading this multidisciplinary project. "Instead of carrying out screenings ourselves, it makes much more sense to have this done by a specialized party. Victoria ID is not just a supplier, but really a partner. We develop, test, gather information and together build the best workflow. It is a very intensive collaboration that contributes to further development for both organizations."

"Developments go as fast as they can, but as slow as they have to." - Gerjan Pranger

Building bridges together

Gerjan continues: "We strive to create a fully digital workflow and shorter processing times. That is one of our project management principles. After the testing phase and a successful pilot with Rabobank, it is now time to address process challenges. For example, what is technically smartest, but more importantly, what works best for the user? Everything has to be aligned, which takes time and attention. We are building bridges together as we walk over them."

"High quality standards emphasize efficiency, convenience and customization." - Stéphanie Eikhoudt

"Our focus is on bringing together different teams, each with their own expertise. Creating synergy and motivating teams are fundamental to the success of our project. This joint effort has allowed us to refine our strategies during the pilot phase. In 2024, we will celebrate an important milestone: the full integration and implementation of this innovative platform.", concludes Stéphanie.

Want to read more about the developments we are working on at HeadFirst Group? Download the 2023 Annual Report here.


An honest and transparent view of the labor market: in conversation with Joachim Klein Molekamp of Loyal Interim

Loyal Interim is a staffing company that values honesty and transparency. Chief Business Development and shareholder Joachim Klein Molekamp sheds light on the needs of the new generation of professionals, in an ever-changing labor market. He also explains how partnerships, such as the one with HeadFirst Group, contribute to their growth and success.

Flexibility and agility are crucial, both for organizations and professionals. As a result, the need for external workers is increasing, while new laws and regulations do not make hiring self-employed workers particularly attractive. This places secondment companies under pressure. "Professionals receive multiple offers and are more likely to change jobs. In addition, projects take longer, while the length of tenure decreases. This creates a special market force. As a service provider, it is then extra important to position the organization well in the labor market. Fortunately, we see opportunities for Loyal Interim because our model suits a new generation of professionals who want freedom, variety and fair remuneration. We see this in the many professionals who have been with us for more than 6 years. That is quite unique for secondment," says Klein Molekamp.

Happy people stay loyal longer

Loyal Interim aims to grow to 1,000 Loyals (professionals) rating them with a 9+ by 2030. Klein Molekamp says, "To achieve that, you have to understand the importance of being a good employer. Our transparent business model, in which we are open about salaries, among other things, emphasizes honesty and equality. Our loyals have responsibility for their own results and can set their own course and terms of employment. In addition, we look in particular at personality, skills and ambitions during recruitment. As a result, the ratio of men to women is proportional and people of more than 15 different nationalities work for us."

"At Loyal Interim, people are the focus, both in the approach to loyals and in collaborations with other parties."

And those different nationalities are respected. For example, Klein Molekamp shares an example of an event during Ramadan, where they adjusted the program and dined together after sunset. "In the end, we are one Loyal together. Freedom, flexibility and autonomy are key, and this fits perfectly with the needs of the new generation of professionals. We call that the comfort of being a good employer, with benefits of entrepreneurship."

Successful partnership

Currently, over 200 of these happy loyals are working on an assignment at 25 different clients from HeadFirst Group's vast network. In fact, Loyal Interim and HeadFirst Group work together at a variety of clients. "We share knowledge and developments to better serve the clients. In this we notice that there is proactive thinking and fast switching. We see HeadFirst Group as a strategic partner and a crucial part of Loyal Interim's success," Klein Molekamp concludes.


Record gross invoice value of €2,6 billion for HR-tech unicorn HeadFirst Group

21% organic growth, net fee income of €76 million

HR-tech service provider HeadFirst Group achieved a record gross invoice value of €2.6 billion in 2023, marking a fully organic growth of 21 percent compared to 2022. Net fee income increased by 20 percent to €76 million leading to an EBITDA conversion of 50%. These results lay the perfect foundation for further growth in 2024 as the organisation continues its strategy of 'tech enables touch', aiming to make societal impact simultaneously.

In addition to financial success, HeadFirst Group also saw significant increases in employee and client satisfaction in 2023. Marion van Happen, CEO at HeadFirst Group, stated: "This proves that our strategy works: by intelligently leveraging technology, we digitalise processes extensively, enabling us to utilise the personal touch of our colleagues at moments where it truly adds value for clients, suppliers, and independent professionals. Our colleagues are satisfied because they are engaged in meaningful work, and our clients are happier. These two elements continue to reinforce each other."

Impact unicorn
Due to years of organically good results and the recent completion of the joining of forces with Impellam Group, HeadFirst Global has achieved the so-called unicorn status, which says business valuation of more than 1 billion euros. Marion van Happen: "We have become a unicorn, but more importantly, we combine that with social impact. Financial results are important, so that we can continue to do for our clients what they need, but we are also taking the lead in moving towards a just, diverse and inclusive labor market. This is where our main impact lies, in line with our purpose "Join the next world of work. In addition, we are taking all actions to build an even more sustainable organization so that we deliver value to the society around us."

More information
HeadFirst Group's annual report can be read and downloaded at headfirst.group/investor-relations.


HeadFirst Group accelerates ambitions with strategic appointment Renger Lammers

HR tech services provider HeadFirst Group has added Renger Lammers to the organisation's management team, in the role of managing director growth & strategy. CEO Marion van Happen: "Renger will focus on strengthening the commercial strength of our organisation. With this appointment, we bring focus to the continued development of our services in the Netherlands and our international growth strategy."

HeadFirst Group recently confirmed its acquisition of Impellam Group. Together, they are one of the world's leading Managed Service Providers specializing in STEM talent and a distinctive HR-tech platform for professionals. Through the group, more than 75 thousand professionals are active for clients all over the world, accounting for a turnover (managed spend, in 2023) of 8 billion euros.

In anticipation of the publication of its annual report next week, HeadFirst Group shares that both the joining of forces with Impellam Group and the appointment of Lammers fit perfectly within its internationalization strategy. Van Happen: "Our international growth ambitions are great. At the same time, we are continuously developing our services in the Netherlands and there is still market share to be gained. With the arrival of Renger, we can bring that shared focus to life. He fits perfectly with our vision of customer centricity and with his skills, Renger will play a key role in further expanding and positioning our organization."

After working for Aldi Einkauf Ohg in Germany, where Lammers learned the intricacies of operational excellence in a large organization, he returned to the Netherlands to lead Essent's commercial operations. In the years that followed, he ran a consultancy firm for commerce, operations and change. For the past three years, he has been Commercial Director of Manpower Group in the Netherlands and will join HeadFirst Group as of April 2024. "The impressive growth and ambitious strategy, combined with the use of technology to enable the human touch in the service provision, has made me enthusiastic about taking this step. Making clients happy is what I do it for, and we will undoubtedly do that with the great team that is already there and that I can start working with immediately," says Lammers.


HeadFirst Group and Impellam Group join forces to become a global leader in STEM, digital and IT talent, managed services and HR tech

HeadFirst Group and Impellam Group today announced that they have joined forces to become one of the world’s leading STEM talent and Managed Service Providers with a distinctive HR tech platform for professionals. The expanded group has €8 billion spend under management, 2,100 expert colleagues, and over 75,000 professionals serving customers across the globe.

This strategic step provides customers with a unique, truly global tech and talent solution to ensure they stay at the forefront of their industry. The deal has created an unparalleled force in digital, IT, data, life sciences, clinical and engineering talent and leaves the expanded group well-placed to drive market beating growth and to deliver increased value for colleagues, customers, professionals, suppliers, and shareholders.

Han Kolff, chairman of the Board, commented: "We are proud to have brought industry leaders HeadFirst and Impellam together. As well as vast geographic reach, our expanded group combines world-class expertise and market-leading tech, providing customers with mission critical talent, hereby creating a unique platform for growth in a growing market. I am confident HeadFirst and Impellam will power the next world of work together.”

Julia Robertson, CEO of Impellam and the enlarged group, said: “We have an exciting future ahead of us. In a world where talent and tech must come together to build better businesses, we will collaborate to leverage the combined strength and capability of our market-leading brands, our people, and our distinctive technology. Our complementary cultures and our focus on our customers’ needs will ensure we deliver market leading, digitally enabled and differentiated solutions to our customers across the world.”

Experienced team driving growth agenda
Leading the future success and growth of the combined business, the Board of the new group includes: Han Kolff, non-executive chairman, Julia Robertson, group CEO, Tim Briant, group CFO, Marion van Happen, CEO of HeadFirst Group, as well as non-executive directors and co-founders Koen Bekkering and Boyd Sleeman. 

There will be no immediate changes to the day-to-day operations of Impellam Group and HeadFirst Group. Impellam and HeadFirst will continue to deliver industry-leading solutions to customers, suppliers and professionals.

Following the completion of the transaction, Lord Ashcroft, the former majority shareholder of Impellam Group will serve as non-executive director on the board.


Hourly rates for self-employed and seconded workers lag behind collective bargaining wages

Expected rate increase of one to two percent in 2024

The hourly rates of flexible workers, self-employed workers and professionals employed by secondment agencies, rose an average of 4.3 percent in 2023 compared to 2022. This increase lags slightly behind the trend in collective bargaining wages. An average rate increase of one to two percent is expected for 2024. This emerges from the latest Talent Monitor of labor market data specialist Intelligence Group and HR-tech service provider HeadFirst Group.

Over 2023, the average agreed wage increase for permanent staff was six percent, according to figures from CBS. HeadFirst Group's hiring data show that professionals who started a new assignment in 2023 experienced a lower increase, at 4.3 percent. The average hourly rate of highly skilled self-employed and seconded workers currently stands at €95.80.

The hourly rates of flexible workers have risen continuously in recent years, over 2022 and 2023 even by more than four percent. Due to the faltering economy, the increasing supply of self-employed and seconded workers in the labor market and falling inflation, this is highly unlikely to continue in 2024. Geert-Jan Waasdorp, director and founder of Intelligence Group, says: "Our forecasting model showed a rate drop of four to six percent based on all these factors, but we do not consider that realistic. The exceptional inflation situation over the past 2 years, has thrown the robust forecasting model off track. We consider a slight increase of 1 to 2 percent as the most likely scenario. "

Scarcity remains, despite slight growth in economy
Waasdorp notes that several developments point to a possible easing of labor market scarcity, but that has little effect on actual scarcity. "We have experienced nine months of economic contraction, but just in the fourth quarter of 2023 there was a small upturn (+0.3 percent). We have seen a decline in job openings for quarters, yet demand remains extremely high and the unemployment rate low. At the same time, bankruptcies and reorganizations are increasing. This is bringing more personnel into the labor market, although it is only a drop in the bucket. Both the increasing supply of talent and the degree of movement in the labor market is still very small in historical perspective and absolute terms."

In addition, a decrease in scarcity is not reflected in the sourcing pressure among freelancers. In fact, the frequency in which they are approached for an assignment shows an upward trend. On average, self-employed people are approached eighteen times a year. In comparison, employed people are approached about nine times a year on average. Marion van Happen, CEO of HeadFirst Group, emphasizes, "These figures show the continuing demand for flexible labor and the growing interest in being self-employed within the labor market. It is undeniable that highly skilled professionals make an invaluable contribution to the Netherlands, with a social and economic value of approximately 4.4 billion euros per year. This also highlights the importance for self-employed professionals to present their profile and skills well, and for organizations to develop effective strategies to attract and retain permanent and flexible talent in a competitive labor market."

More insights into professionals' rate trends over 2023 and into 2024? Download the latest Talent Monitor for free at headfirst.group.