At the beginning of this school year, our team in Amersfoort matched three newbies to a traineeship at Brood & Spelen. This organization is active in more than 70 schools throughout the Netherlands with lunchtime care (TSO) and playground guard. They also have two locations for out-of-school care (BSO). Brood & Spelen was founded in 2004 and has grown considerably in recent years. Therefore, they are looking for staff and volunteers for several locations. Nikki Porter, responsible for recruitment, talks about the organization’s vision on diversity and inclusion.
Nikki: “At Brood & Spelen we strive to create an environment where children can be themselves and at the same time have the opportunity to discover and experience everything. An environment where they can grow up into unique persons, self-conscious, worldly and socially oriented. To achieve this, it is important to put together a team that is as diverse as possible with a pedagogical staff and volunteers who have diverse backgrounds, traditions, interests, experience and talents.”
Discovering and deploying talent
“Everyone is equally important and encouraged to propose their own ideas. There is room for creativity and innovation. Last year we conducted a staff survey. One of the questions was ‘What is your talent?’. We found out that there was still a lot of untapped talent in the teams. For example, a newcomer who happened to be a professional athlete. He used his experience and developed a beautiful sports program. The volunteers decide for themselves with which group they would most like to work, where their talent will flourish. One feels comfortable with toddlers and the other with older children. Everyone can grow into a coordinator position. You do not need any specific training or diploma for this. As long as your heart is in the right place and you get along well with children. Of course you have to learn to lead a team, but some people already have this talent.”
“Everyone is equally important and encouraged to propose their own ideas”“
Dealing with differences
“Both the coordinators and the volunteers deal well with differences. We are proud of that. We are open to each other. In this way we feel and hear who someone is and what is inside that person. During team outings, we take into account colleagues who eat halal. Each team (location) organizes one or more team outings every year. High-tea, a walk, or a boat trip. Everyone brings something tasty. So funny to see that I often only take one thing with me while my newcomer colleagues bring bags full of goodies. Every meeting becomes a party. Delicious!”
An App to encourage connection
“We recently launched a staff app, “Mijn Brood & Spelen”, for all our employees. We use this channel to encourage connection. Congratulations on birthdays or births, best wishes on Christmas or Ramadan. We also ask for anecdotes to share in the App: did you experience something nice this week? Did children say something funny, or unusual to you this week?” And it is also a channel to propose ideas, brainstorm about fun games with the children.”
Language can be a challenge sometimes
“During training sessions, we occasionally notice that the message is not getting through properly. Then we approach it differently to ensure that everyone understands everything and is able to participate fully. You have to adapt some things to achieve an inclusive workplace. In teams with many employees who do not speak Dutch well, it can be challenging for the coordinator to organize activities for children. The environment must be safe and responsible. If children are not understood, unpleasant situations can arise. That is why we ensure balanced diverse teams with always enough people who understand Dutch well.”
You have to adapt some things to achieve an inclusive workplace
Learn Dutch by sharing a cup-a-soup moment
“At some schools we have teams of 10 to even 12 volunteers. They often arrive 15 to 30 minutes earlier to enjoy the contact moment with colleagues. They drink a cup-a-soup or a cup of tea together. They stand together on the (school)yard and organize the activities. After work, they give each other feedback. How did it go? What did you find difficult? What went well? These are important moments. The opportunity to practice the language and learn from each other.”
Start the conversation!
“My advice to employers who are hesitant about hiring newcomers is: start the conversation! With organizations such as NewBees and with the newcomers themselves. You will be amazed at what it brings you. I remember a volunteer who was a little shy and afraid at first because her Dutch was not good yet. We put her in the kindergarten where she read books. The children were hanging on her every word! This gave her confidence. Practicing language with children is nice and easy, because children do not judge.”
Win situation for everyone
“We have been helped enormously by the three ladies of NewBees. They are an essential workforce in Amersfoort. One of them has years of experience in education and hopes to find a paid job at a nursery or kindergarten in the future. Another is trained as an administrative assistant but is so enthusiastic about Brood & Spelen that she wants to continue working in education. Without these ladies we cannot work and parents have no safe place for their children to stay or play. We need people. Newcomers want to gain work experience, they bring new talent to the teams. It is not important that they don’t have a good command of the language yet. It is really a win situation for everyone: for schools, parents, newcomers, municipalities and for us.”
Do you need advice or guidance to make your workplace inclusive? Look here hier or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.