Last year has accelerated many changes the work force was already going through. Digitalisation, the use of big data, requests for more flexibility, and the growing skills gap, to name a few, are challenges your business has to think about. In order to attract ‘super-stars’ for your business, it’s important to know what additional talent you want and need in your team, and what motivates the current workforce to apply, join and remain with a new employer. We carried out a research on this topic and would like to present you our findings regarding the top 4 employee benefits job seekers are looking for in their future employers.
More and more people opt-in for jobs that offer fewer work hours. Currently almost half of all people employed in the Netherlands are part-timers. This means that they work less than 36 hours because the Dutch law recognizes a full-time job as 36-40 hours per week.
In 2020 around 41,000 employees have worked fewer hours compared to 2019. Working fewer hours has been a trend on the Dutch market for the previous 10 years and it is hard to estimate how much the has pandemic accelerated this trend.
Reduced working hours are also more common in certain job positions. Many Dutch people in Office Management and PA & Secretarial roles consider 32h per week to be a norm. Numerous HR professionals only want to work 3-4 days per week, with the percentage rising up to 60% in senior positions. Students and experienced professionals in Customer Service often prefer part-time jobs over full-time work. Even in Finance, traditionally a sector with long work hours, part-time work is not so uncommon anymore.
Working fewer hours is also linked to specific parental leave in the Netherlands commonly known as ‘Mamadag’ and ‘Papadag’.The Dutch parental leave allows both parents to take unpaid leave for 26 times their weekly working hours until the child is 8 years old. Parental leave can be taken at once or spread across a few years by taking one parental day per week. Both parents are legally entitled to parental leave, but the gender imbalance is still present and female employees generally work fewer hours in order to take care of children.
The pandemic has forced many companies to implement a work-from-home policy. What was once a perk for freelancers and some tech workers has overnight become a norm for many employees. Companies had to speed up digital transformation, minimize micromanagement, and increase trust in their employees.
However, we’ve seen that working from home can jeopardize work-life balance since the boundary between work and home can often be blurry. People working from home often have difficulties switching-off and in the long run, this can lead to burnout. Moreover, employees often state loneliness and isolation as the main disadvantage of working from home, this can lead to anxiety and depression. Parents of small or school-age children state an increased stress level that comes with juggling their workload and parenthood in the same space at the same time. Failing to provide a structure and support for remote workers can result in a higher turnover of employees or extensive sick leave.
Surveys often show that the majority of workers prefer a hybrid model: dividing workdays between home and office. This way, employees feel they have the best from both worlds: enough face-to-face interaction with fellow colleagues, but they are also able to save time and enjoy home comfort.
Following our survey on Linkedin, 47% of responders stated that flexible work space is a number one job perk, followed by flexible work hours and extra holiday days.
Flexible work hours
The classical 8 hours day, 5 days per week work schedule first appeared in the early 1900s. Henry Ford was among the first industrials to implement 40h work week in order to give workers more time to rest and buy things. This resulted in higher productivity of workers, and yes, profitability: workers were buying Ford cars since they had time to enjoy driving them!
However, many things have changed since Ford’s time and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for flexible hours. As schools and kindergartens stayed closed, parents had to constantly shift between homeschooling and working for months on and employers had to adjust to the new reality. Increased stress levels of employees pushed employers to think more about their team’s well-being and focus on the end result, not long hours being clocked in.
Flexible schedule policy
Besides the ad-hoc and individual agreements on flexible hours, more structured forms of flexible schedules include flexible starting and leaving times and a compressed work week.
Flexible work times have shown many advantages, providing employees with more time to deal with their personal matters as well as allowing them to work when they are most productive. Not everyone is a morning person. Some people experience a peak of their productive time in the afternoon or even late evening.
Employees working a compressed work week may work longer during 4 working days, but they have an additional day off which means more time for family, friends, and traveling. This can lead to less absenteeism since they can schedule private matters on their day off.
However, keep in mind that not working core office hours can jeopardize business agility and lower customer satisfaction while a compressed work week can result in lower productivity that comes with longer work hours.
Autonomy and feedback
Employees nowadays want more autonomy and freedom in their work. They want to grow and experiment. This is the reason many companies offer clear predefined career paths and opportunities to engage in projects outside the normal job scope. This often results in more trust and a closer relationship between a manager and an employee. The focus shifts to the deliverable results. Taking ownership of ideas and decisions is highly encouraged. The Dutch are famous for providing their employees with great autonomy which is epitomized in the ‘flat-hierarchy’ organizational structure. Many internationals choose to work in the Netherlands precisely for this reason.
There is a global trend among younger generations to ask for regular feedback. Millennials and Gen Z are eager to learn, develop and contribute to society. To achieve this, they request frequent validation of their work and continuous support from the supervisor and teammates.
But feedback is not a one-way conversation. More sources of feedback ensure less bias, subsequently, the 360 feedback method grew in popularity recently. Appearing for the first time back in the 90s, many Fortune 500 companies today use this feedback technique. It allows an employee to hear the opinions of their manager, colleagues, subordinates and to take a more sincere and strategic look at their own skills, strengths, and weaknesses.
How do you attract the best talent?
Now that you know some of the preferences of today’s workforce, especially here in the Netherlands, what can you offer in order to attract the best talent? The keywords are trust and flexibility. You need to make your employees feel trusted that they can do their best, bring amazing ideas, and take initiative no matter when and where they work. Moreover, work is just one part of a person’s life, next to family and friends time, leisure and hobbies. If employees do not have an optimal balance between all these areas, their mental and physical health could be in jeopardy, which consequently will affect the quality of their work.
The Netherlands ranks 1st in the world as the country with the best work-life balance which is not surprising when you take into account all of the above. If you want to recruit the best people to work with you, you must provide more than a ping pong table and a gym membership.