Health and Social Work

Social Innovation and Diversity

What’s the most effective way to use the diversity in competences that employees possess? And how can you achieve smart collaboration between people with different competences? In conjunction with companies and institutions in the Zwolle area, Windesheim is developing methods of optimum staff utilization in individual organizations as well as in cooperatives. Not only does this increase labour productivity, it also reinforces organizations’ innovation power.

New working methods

The increasing shortage in the Dutch labour market and increasing demands made by consumers lead to equally increasing demands being  made on employees. On the other hand, there are fewer opportunities to recruit precisely those employees that meet these requirements. This means that organizations need to make more efficient use of the available workforce. Getting staff to work together in groups of mixed compositions, assigning them to tasks that require their specific competences, makes work more challenging and more fun and makes the organization a more attractive employer. But how can organizations create these conditions? To answer this question, Windesheim is conducting research on new working methods, also called Social Innovations.


The innovations currently being researched not only match present market requirements, but also consider the need for organizations to adapt continuously.


1. Help mijn dochter (ver)drinkt (Help, My Daughter Drinks and Is Drowning)

Publication (2012, Dutch) - Column by Sjiera de Vries, Professor of Social Innovation and Diversity, delivered on 8 March 2012 on Women’s Day. Column on the necessity of social innovation in health care.


2. Verscheidenheid maakt het verschil (Diversity Makes All the Difference) – Research Publication by Sjiera de Vries

Publication of the inaugural lecture delivered by Sjiera de Vries, Professor of Social Innovation and Diversity on 16 March 2012 (Dutch).


Research Projects

1. Recognition of Multi-talent at Windesheim

Research project (ongoing) – Windesheim wishes to offer more opportunities to students and staff of various backgrounds and to benefit from the added value of diversity. This research project is intended to give a new boost to activities supporting this objective.

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2. Influencing the public image of older employees

Research project (ongoing) – Employability of older staff in the labour process is often limited. However, it is by no means inevitable that older employees drop out. One of the causes is that relatively little is invested in this group´s employability.

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3. Management pools

Research project (ongoing) – Organizations are looking for ways to make more efficient use of their employees. An example of how this can be done is the management pool. Experienced personnel without fixed job descriptions are deployed in projects they find for themselves in different parts of the organization. After all, why resort to external consultants if the required expertise is available in house?

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4. Optimum utilization of competences

Research project (ongoing) – Contracting markets, disappointing results, the need for sustainability in society and a changing labour market are putting pressure on organizations. Consequently, they are forced to improve the employability of their staff. Hence, optimum utilization of talents available within an organization is a hot topic.

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5. What do employers need to hire young disabled persons?

Research project (ongoing) – A considerable number of employers would be perfectly willing to hire a young disabled person, but they don’t know how to do this successfully.

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