“Let people do the work they do best”

Published on: 30 June 2022

Manager of Shared IT Services Eric Helsloot sees leveraging talents as a strength for the organization

APG’s ambition is to grow into an even more sustainable and inclusive organization. Achieving Aspirant status on the Performance Ladder for Social Engagement will contribute to this goal. This national TNO certificate for social enterprise shows that APG makes an above-average contribution to employment opportunities for vulnerable groups in the labor market. Eric Helsloot, manager of Shared IT Services, sees this as a great opportunity to provide a platform for even more talents: “In my own team there is always room for unique individuals.”


Obtaining Aspirant status on the Performance Ladder Social Enterprise (see box) is “nice and looks great” on APG’s website. But the next important step is to live up to the content behind it, says Eric Helsloot. “Inclusiveness is very valuable to an organization. It’s now up to us to provide that safe and challenging work environment for anyone who needs it.”


Color palette
Words that Helsloot translates into actions. Because the manager could really only think of one way to make his Shared IT Services department the best IT team: to leverage the insights and experiences of unique individuals as much as possible. “I’m a big supporter of diversity and inclusion and I try to express that at SIS,” he says. And in the complicated world of IT, that’s not a given, Helsloot explains. “After all, that world consists mostly of men and with us of somewhat older age.” And yet for several years, Eric has had a management team that is half women. And of all the executives, even more than half are women.

“But we don’t just look at gender, we also look at team composition based on character and work attitude, for example, using management drive profiles. The result is that the management team of SIS now has a well-composed color palette in which coworkers are complementary to each other, keep each other sharp and strengthen each other.” And it doesn't stop there. SIS also employs people with a migration background. “By bringing other cultures into the organization, we enrich ourselves even more.”

The work at Shared IT Services is very diverse and is carried out by a total of 300 employees with varying levels of education, and from real implementers to very analytically minded employees. Helsloot therefore feels it is a department that is ideally suited to take on inclusion. “If you can create suitable workplaces anywhere, it’s here. So, I’m happy to participate in fulfilling the participation ambitions that come with the Aspirant status we just obtained.”

Core qualities
To illustrate how you can offer marginalized people a job, Helsloot points to IT security, a business unit where analysis is central: looking at a lot of data, working in a very structured way, excluding things on the basis of reduction. Activities that require a high level of concentration, for example, are a plus. And that can be one of the core qualities of people with an autism spectrum disorder, for example, Eric says. “In the past, you might not have thought of hiring someone from that target group. Because ‘that’s someone who comes with baggage’ and having someone like that on your team ‘just gets tricky’. But I say: come on in. I put people to work based on their qualities and let them do the work they do best.”


To get that best IT team with unique individuals, Helsloot works closely with people manager Gonneke Cammel-Ooms and Det Olde Hampsink, Head of SIS Support. “They are both specialized in diversity and inclusion and from HR and external organizations we get advice on and access to the target group. In this way, as an organization, we are moving closer to an inclusive workplace, one step at a time.” To inspire his own employees in this area, Helsloot facilitates unconscious bias training. “We all have our unconscious biases. And by becoming aware of them, you can contribute to an inclusive workplace, because then you can do something about it.  And to ensure that everyone feels at home and all employees can work together I encourage a safe working environment where everyone can speak up in a respectful way about how things are going and where you can indicate what you need to go to work satisfied and appreciated. If you are bothered by something I do or say, please speak to me. Do you work best in a stimulus-free environment? Who am I to deny you that quiet work environment?”



His approach is bearing fruit, the manager of SIS observes. “A training course like this, for example, opens people’s eyes and they actually start working with those insights.” But there is also resistance he admits. “Others say in all honesty ‘when are we going to stop with this nonsense, let’s just get back to work’. That too is a reflection of society. It’s up to us to then engage in dialogue and try to understand each other’s perspectives. In this way, we can eliminate the fear of the unknown.”


For Helsloot, the motivation to make a social contribution in this way is at least deeply rooted. “I am also involved in APG’s Buitenboordmotor (Outboard Motor). In it, we guide employees to other work. Not because we want to get rid of them, but because they might find their passion in a sector like healthcare, education or installation. This is also a way of getting the right people with the right skills and experience in the right place. That makes you happier, both as a company and as a person.”

2 questions about the Social Performance Ladder

What is the PSO certificate?
The PSO is a scientifically based quality mark of TNO that gives insight in the extent to which organizations do more than average social business aimed at the participation of vulnerable groups in the labor market. The PSO identifies at company level how the number of marginalized employees relates to the total number of employees during a reference year. This is called the “direct social contribution”. The indirect social contribution is aimed at purchasing and/or outsourcing work to companies with a PSO certificate.

In addition to the total social contribution, an organization must also meet the qualitative requirements. These include offering suitable work to an employee from this target group and ensuring proper supervision. The PSO is designed as a performance ladder with four levels: aspirant status and steps 1, 2 and 3. APG’s ambition is to achieve step 1 by 2024.


Why do the PSO certificate and participation jobs matter to APG?
APG wants to contribute to an inclusive labor market. The creation and filling of 10 jobs for employees is the first step in this direction. Ronald Wuijster, chairman of the D&I Board, has taken the initiative to help people from outside the organization find suitable jobs. This was partly inspired by our client PWRI, the fund for employees and pensioners in the sheltered employment sector, and is in line with APG’s social role. The guidance is provided by creating and filling at least 4 jobs in collaboration with organizations that have experience in mediating and coaching these talents.