As a provider of highly skilled consultants in legal, finance and marketing & communications, USG Professionals is keen to be successful in all its strategic goals – including its determination to maximize social return on investment goals.
“While brainstorming with representatives of the Dutch government (Maatwerk voor Mensen), we came up with the idea to focus on a group that was still underexposed. Yet everyone knows someone who suffers or has suffered from cancer. USG Professionals wanted to do something for this group”, says Yvette Oeben, project lead of ‘Reintegration of (ex-)cancer patients’. “The idea was to develop a ‘living lab’ in which we can explore best practices.”
Yvette's motivation to coordinate the process was very personal. “I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 29, which is now almost four years ago. I experienced firsthand how difficult it is to get back to work. You have little self-confidence and energy, you tend to exceed your own limits and failure often feels just around the corner.”
Target group difficult to reach
It proved a challenge for USG Professionals to actually reach the intended group. Yvette: “The Dutch Public Employment Service (UWV) is not allowed to screen people for an illness, so they could not supply candidates. And (former) patients themselves are often hesitant, since they don’t want to find themselves forever labeled as ‘(former) patient’. In addition, our specific company profile and our fields of expertise made the search for the right candidates even more challenging.”
To make a breakthrough, USG Professionals joined forces with specialized reintegration agencies which prepare (ex-)cancer patients for their return on the labour market. Yvette: “Because we really wanted to make a success of the living lab, we decided to create jobs at our own organization. We focused on job profiles with a manageable workload, like reception work.”
The candidate decides
Just before the summer of 2019 one candidate, Yvonne, started with a two-month trial placement as a receptionist. She was very happy with the opportunity offered. “After overcoming cancer I found it harder to remember, concentrate and work under time pressure. During my trial period at USG Professionals I was able to slowly build up the workload from a few hours to two days a week. USG Professionals didn’t push anything. And I always had someone next to me on whom I could fall back. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.” In October USG Professionals offered Yvonne a contract for 16 hours a week. “It really touched me, because I have been applying for jobs for years and worked as a volunteer, but it never resulted in a paid position.”
Room for more
“Things don't always work out this well”, says Yvette about the Reintegration of (ex-)cancer patients program. “For instance, for one candidate the trial placement turned out to be too demanding. At that point she wasn’t ready for reintegration. That’s not a problem at all and as an organization we learn from cases like this.”
Although Yvette didn't find the living lab process easy, the successful appointment of a candidate made it all worthwhile for her. “And there's definitely room for more. We keep in touch with the reintegration agencies. We would like to find new candidates, and then create a suitable position for them within our business operations. This fits perfectly with the vision of USG Professionals: everyone deserves a job opportunity.”
For more information about USG Professionals living lab (ex-)cancer patients, please send an email to Yvette Oeben: firstname.lastname@example.org.