Kazi in Techmag: “By personalizing the employee experience, we can connect education, HR and talent”

Recently, our CEO Nikolaas Bellens sat down with Magali De Reu, host of the YouTube series Techmag. However, this was not simply a marketing and promotion effort, but to lay out what changes he thinks we need to see in the labor market. How can we achieve it? It starts with approaching people as individuals, and with desks at school. That’s because if we want to effect change the labor market, we have to go back to where this market is formed – the education system.

The Netflix generation

Just in case you didn’t know: At Kazi, we developed what we call the  “Expectations scan.” This is a kind of twofold questionnaire, with which, companies and talent can make their needs and expectations clear. Our algorithm identifies those two.

Why is this important? “The majority of the audience that is looking for a job today is part of what might be called the ‘Netflix generation’ “, Nikolaas tells Magali De Reu. “They’re not just looking for a salary and that’s it. And that’s not just me saying it. Gartner research has shown that people expect more from their employers these days.”

“Putting employees first shouldn’t be just a PR move.”

Nikolaas correctly points out the issue of “personalization” is currently applied predominantly to customers. Data, data and more data. But what if we applied that same philosophy to employees? “The Netflix Generation wants to be served by their employers,” he says. “That runs from recruitment through to retention. It is more than just a nice PR-talk to boost your employer branding. “

Looking beyond the CEO: Can the workplace offer solace?

The idea that led to the creation of Kazi clearly began with Nikolaas’ own frustrations with the education system. “I really felt like I was banging my head against the wall with no result”, he admits. “I’ve always been an ADHD student – I was not like the other students. Yet I just had to participate in the system like everyone else. No one ever asked me “What do you like? What makes you happy? Once I was on the job market I’ve consistently been incredibly miscast. Was it  my fault – did I not understand what was expected of me? Or were employers not communicating correctly? I don’t know the right answer; I don’t want to point fingers. “

“Learning on the job at the workplace helps make a job understandable and tangible quickly”

Although today Kazi focuses more on reconciling different expectations in the labor market as we find it, each of us at Kazi believes that a drastic change will need to take place in the education system in the longer term. “I am a big believer in workplace learning”, Nikolaas adds. “Today you learn at your school desk, and then you join the labor force with your degree. In the future, with even some movement I see today, companies will become learning places. Employers are going to start giving more education workshops. For example, employers and talent are already growing closer together at an early stage. By adopting this model, the work is made tangible more quickly. “

In the interview, Nikolaas uses an example of someone studying to be a pastry chef. “What would be the best way to keep this student stimulated during training?”, he reflects. “Well, if the student is a talker who loves variation, he is probably going to respond best to a small, artisanal-style bakery where he’ll have a lot of contact with customers. But maybe if he’s quieter, and cares about accuracy and process, he’d be better working in an industrial bakery. This way, students can immediately get in touch with their job. You know, make their education a lot more interesting and enjoyable. “

“Swahili is the only language in the world in which ‘Job’ and ‘Mission’ are the same word, which they call ‘Kazi’ ”

At Kazi we all hope that this word, ‘Kazi’ will become the term that educators and the labor market uses worldwide. In the Swahili language, “Kazi” means both ‘job’ and ‘mission’, That makes it the only language in which those two concepts are joined. I hope that soon, this will be the norm everywhere, that is my Kazi! “

Make it fun, make it tangible

Although Kazi relies on technology to spread these ideas to the public, Nikolaas does not believe that technological innovation will be the cure for everything. “We are all afraid that our jobs will be swept away and that technology will replace us,” he says. “But technology can’t get far just by itself. It’s a team player; it needs to work with people. That’s why I believe that we should blind ourselves to learning as many soft skills as possible, to make sure we remain relevant. It’s important to foster an attitude of continuous learning. “

But how can we set about creating such an atmosphere that encourages this continuous learning? “You’ve got to make it fun, and make it tangible”, he responds. “As I’ve said before, work must be made as concrete and tangible as possible in education. Then it will be fun. “

Nikolaas proudly states that he’s still learning every day as an entrepreneur. And that keeps him sharp. “I know where I want to go,” he says firmly. “Kazi has to connect talent, HR and education back to each other; this was not the case when I was coming up, and I felt the effects of it. And even though I obviously don’t want to fail, if I do, I look to see how I can learn and grow from it. This is how I can build a successful company with my whole team!”

Want to know more? Watch the video (Dutch) below!