Six nominees for the very first Benelux Total Talent Management Awards

The highly awaited first edition of the Total Talent Management Awards is just around the corner, and six remarkable organizations are leading the charge. Aquafin, Booking, Fairphone, ING, UCB, and Vitalis Zorggroep have emerged as contenders for this prestigious recognition, set to be unveiled on March 21st at the Total talent Summit 2024. But what sets their approaches apart?

Aubrey de Wilde on March 04, 2024 Average reading time: 8 min
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Six nominees for the very first Benelux Total Talent Management Awards

Total Talent Management Awards: Recognizing Excellence in a Growing Field

Total Talent Management (TTM) is a concept rapidly gaining traction in the business world and with governments, offering a more integrated approach to managing both permanent and flexible workforces. This holistic strategy encompasses the entire “talent lifecycle”, from inflow (attraction and acquisition) to internal mobility (development and engagement) to outflow (retention and transition), both within and beyond geographical borders.

Recognizing the increasing importance of TTM, the third annual Total Talent Management Summit, taking place on March 21st in the Netherlands, and will also see the inaugural awards ceremony for this field. Six finalists have been shortlisted for their outstanding contributions to TTM practices. Let’s delve into what they have done to earn their place in the finals:

Aquafin’s Innovative Collaboration: Joint Training Excellence

Aquafin, the esteemed Flemish water company, has left an indelible mark on the Total Talent Management Awards jury with its exemplary approach to integrating Statement of Work (SOW’s) parties. The company’s submission, titled ‘Co-creation towards binding collaboration with partners,’ unveils a strategic initiative that goes beyond conventional practices.

In the words of Ineke van Severen, the visionary behind Aquafin’s submission, “Technical partners are pivotal to us. However, our collaboration history was not always seamless.”

‘We create shared ownership with the new collaboration process and joint training courses.’

With a focus on creating shared ownership, Aquafin embarked on a collaborative trajectory, highlighted by a kickoff event for executives and a brainstorming session involving 26 engineering firms that accept assignments for Aquafin.

A groundbreaking collaboration model was created: A charter with 7 jointly supported ‘anchor points.’ The Aquafin Academy, initially an internal training program, is now transformed into a joint academy where training is crafted collaboratively with engineering firms. This joint training initiative fosters shared ownership and facilitates knowledge-sharing among stakeholders.

In the words of a participant from a brainstorming session, “A great initiative; there is no other client who deals with its suppliers in such an integrated way.”

Looking ahead, Aquafin plans to launch a joint knowledge academy, a platform for designing and implementing technical training courses collaboratively with engineering firms later this year. Particularly noteworthy is the industry commitment to have all project managers working for Aquafin certified by mid-2026, a testament to their dedication to professional development says Van Severen.

‘Good collaboration with technical partners is essential to continue realizing successful projects together.’

She sees it as vital for maintaining a “cordial partnership” with engineering firms and believes that robust collaboration is essential to tackle future challenges confidently. Fostering collaboration is a dynamic interplay of shared responsibilities, equality, trust, and mutual inspiration. It’s all about cultivating a genuine sense of joy, prioritizing the well-being, and fostering the continuous development of each member of the project team.

Aquafin’s approach addresses a growing trend in talent management: the need to effectively integrate diverse talent pools into a cohesive workforce. By investing in collaborative training and fostering a culture of shared responsibility, Aquafin ensures that both their permanent employees and contracted workers possess the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve successful project outcomes.’s Innovative Gigs Program: Revolutionizing Freelancer Engagement extensively collaborates with freelancers, engaging them for diverse content-related tasks such as translation, copywriting, and videography. Establishing an efficient system that not only identifies talent promptly as per current requirements but also addresses future needs posed a challenge. The e-commerce giant, however, resolved this issue by implementing a dedicated ‘talent community’ developed by Randstad Sourceright. This community leverages Twago technology to streamline the talent acquisition process.

Becca Sil, the ‘head of contingent workforce’ at and the brains behind this transformative initiative sheds light on their approach. “The entry point is a landing page designed using the frameworks and style of our employer value proposition.” This landing page, intricately linked to the external career site, allows prospective talent to explore engagement possibilities. The collaboration extended to their payroll partner, CXC, resulting in a streamlined process for freelancers, coupled with enhanced protective measures.

‘This solution took us from approximately 500 invoices per month to just 1.’

An innovative aspect of the program is the self-bill process, drastically reducing administrative work for freelancers. According to Sil, this streamlined approach saw a significant drop in monthly invoices from 500 to just 1, showcasing the program’s efficiency.

“We aim to expand and roll out direct sourcing across our broader Gigs program,” Sil notes, emphasizing their commitment to further enhancing the freelancer experience. This expansion means all opportunities to collaborate with will soon be accessible through their career portal.

Sil emphasizes the program’s impact on talent in the market, providing them with the opportunity to explore diverse roles within tailored to their preferred work style. This, in turn, contributes to an experience that truly reflects our brand.

The program’s jury commends for its seamless integration of direct freelancer sourcing and permanent recruitment. This not only streamlines their talent acquisition processes but also sets a benchmark for fostering a dynamic and inclusive work environment.

Deel & Fairphone: Pioneering International Collaboration

Fairphone, hailing from the Netherlands and known for its commitment to fairness and sustainability, has ventured into uncharted territory with its diverse workforce of approximately 150 employees representing 27 nationalities, spanning from Italy to Taiwan. The challenge? How to provide equal opportunities and fair working conditions for a globally dispersed team. Fairphone addressed this by forming a strategic alliance with Deel, an all-in-one HR and payroll platform offering an innovative Employer of Record (EOR) solution.

‘Operating worldwide, Fairphone ensures employment conditions align with those in its Amsterdam headquarters.’

Through the EOR partnership, Deel not only hires employees but also handles payroll responsibilities, facilitating collaboration with global talent while ensuring compliance with diverse legislations and equitable benefits for all, mirroring those of their colleagues at the Amsterdam headquarters.

“The collaboration perfectly aligns with Fairphone’s values, providing equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their location,”  says, Lisanne Sanders, Deel’s Marketing Manager Benelux and the case submitter.

The jury applauds this as a prime example of the Human Cloud, enabling remote work while seamlessly integrating individuals with the permanent team, fostering international growth.

‘The deal with Deel offers equal opportunities for all Fairphone employees, regardless of their location.’

The impact is not only seen in operational efficiency but also in alleviating administrative burdens for Fairphone’s People department. Sanders notes that this shift allows them to focus on strategic tasks, enhancing productivity and instilling confidence in the process. Moreover, it contributes to the satisfaction of international employees, reinforcing Fairphone’s commitment to fairness and sustainability.

ING’s Trailblazing Total Talent Approach: Introducing the 5 B-roads to Talent Excellence

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, ING firmly believes that it’s the people who make a significant difference. This conviction led the bank to initiate a pioneering initiative known as the Total Talent Approach., marked by the incorporation of the 5 B’s: Build (Investing in learning and development, upskilling and retraining), Bridge (Internal mobility, fostering growth within ING), Buy (Internal employees, permanent), Borrow (External employees, flexible), and Beyond (External mobility). This, according to Saskia Souverijn, the case submitter, represents a ‘new way of thinking about how we attract and retain talent at ING, regardless of the type of employment.’

‘A total vision of Build, Bridge, Buy, Borrow, and Beyond is the future,’  she says.

Introducing the ‘TTA Decision Tool,’ ING has empowered its managers with a solution that swiftly identifies the most suitable candidates and provides insights into average rates in the Dutch market, based on data from Intelligence Group. Interconnected with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), Vendor Management System (VMS), recruiters, and the intranet, the tool enhances awareness of opportunities and challenges in the dynamic labor market, offering valuable insights into development opportunities within ING.

The impetus behind adopting a holistic view of talent was driven by the habitual tendency of managers to immediately turn to external sources for capacity needs, says Souverijn.  In a tight labor market and amidst organizational changes, the imperative to retain and develop talent for a future-proof workforce became evident. Despite the substantial operational efforts involved, this approach establishes cohesion in HR service delivery, exerting a profound impact on the entire organization.

The shared goal among these industry leaders is to become ‘the most attractive employer, regardless of contract type. Souverijn ‘envisions further development by linking supporting HR initiatives to the 5 Bs. A data dashboard, providing insights into impact and effectiveness, makes the Total Talent Approach scalable and poised for potential implementation across multiple countries.’

UCB & Randstad Sourceright: Redefining Talent Acquisition Excellence

Described as ‘a new standard in talent acquisition’ by Luc De Bolle of Randstad Sourceright, the approach crafted for Belgian bio-pharma multinational UCB stands out as a testament to innovation and efficiency. De Bolle says, that the integration of both an MSP (for flexible staffing) and an RPO solution (for permanent roles) into a single, cohesive total solution for talent not only streamlined the management process but also established a seamless experience for both the organization and its talent pool.

The figures behind this case are nothing short of impressive. UCB, with a global footprint, engages approximately 1,150 temporary workers worldwide through a network of over 160 agencies. The expansive global RPO program spans more than 25 countries, resulting in an average of over 1,750 hires annually.

Bringing these elements together into one unified approach fills us with great pride,” remarks De Bolle.” As we contributed to the design, implementation, and global deployment of this intricate solution, our rapport with the customer has thrived. Overcoming challenges and celebrating shared success, the program continues to deliver year after year. The jury echoes this sentiment, recognizing it as a ‘good example of Total Talent Acquisition’.

Vitalis Woonzorggroep: Addressing the Shortage as a Team of Six

An entirely distinct approach emerged through the collaboration of Vitalis Woonzorggroep, Archipel, Lunet, Stroomz, SWZ, St. Annaklooster, and MyTalentBoard. This initiative revolves around a collective effort by directors and HR managers in the healthcare and welfare sector in South-East Brabant, who have united to confront significant challenges in the labor market. They have undertaken this endeavor through two projects titled “Smarter Attracting Together” and “Smarter Developing Together”. The concept involves not only collaborative efforts in profiling the labor market but also providing joint development opportunities.

Johan Bertens, the case submitter on behalf of MyTalentBoard, emphasizes the use of technology in supporting these endeavors. The projects involve measuring the intrinsic skills and motivation of candidates, facilitating a ‘talent passport’ that combines a shared working environment with a hybrid learning space and a skills passport.

This comprehensive approach serves as a noteworthy example of internal mobility, training, and effective collaboration, further strengthened through the Regional pool, promoting ‘multiple employers,’ as acknowledged by the jury.”

Total Talent Management Awards: A Countdown to Excellence

Mark van Assema, one of the esteemed members of the 7-person professional jury, expresses enthusiasm for the 6 outstanding nominations vying for recognition. While acknowledging the beauty of these nominations, he also points out a notable observation. The jury noted a discrepancy in the number and, more critically, the quality of entries for the innovation category ‘in breadth.’ This led to the decision not to nominate any candidates for this category, citing the absence of concrete examples to support the submissions.

Nonetheless, the top 6 nominations, handpicked for their excellence, are poised to present their compelling cases to the jury on March 6th. The anticipation then builds, with the final verdict set to be unveiled during the prestigious Total Talent Summit in Breda on March 21st.

As the industry eagerly awaits the verdict, join the journey toward recognizing excellence in talent management and innovative workforce strategies. Witness the unveiling of winners at the Total Talent Summit, shaping the future of talent management.



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Aubrey de Wilde

Aubrey de Wilde

Recruitment Consultant at Undutchables

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