Recent times have expedited the ongoing transformations in the workforce. Advancements in digitalization, the utilization of big data, the increasing demand for flexibility, and the widening skills gap are just a few of the challenges businesses need to address. To attract exceptional talent to your organization, it is crucial to understand the additional skills and qualities you require in your team and what motivates prospective employees to apply, join, and stay with a new employer. We have conducted comprehensive research on this subject and would like to share our findings on the top four employee benefits that job seekers prioritize when considering future employers.
The trend of opting for jobs with reduced working hours has been steadily increasing, with nearly half of all employed individuals in the Netherlands now choosing part-time positions. In accordance with Dutch labor laws, a full-time job is recognized as working between 36 to 40 hours per week.
In 2020, there was a significant rise in the number of employees working fewer hours compared to the previous year, with approximately 41,000 individuals embracing this trend. The impact of the pandemic on this shift is challenging to quantify precisely, but it has certainly contributed to the acceleration of this pattern.
Certain job positions exhibit a higher prevalence of reduced working hours. For instance, many professionals in Office Management and PA & Secretarial roles consider 32 hours per week as the norm. HR professionals often prefer to work 3-4 days per week, with the percentage increasing to around 60% in senior positions. Students and experienced professionals in Customer Service also tend to gravitate towards part-time employment. Even in traditionally demanding sectors like Finance, part-time work is becoming increasingly common.
The concept of reduced working hours is closely associated with specific parental leave policies in the Netherlands, popularly known as 'Mamadag' and 'Papadag.' Dutch parental leave allows both parents to take unpaid leave equivalent to 26 times their weekly working hours until the child reaches 8 years of age. Parents have the flexibility to take parental leave either at once or spread it out over several years by taking one parental day per week. Although both parents have the legal right to parental leave, there is still a gender imbalance, with female employees generally opting for fewer working hours to take care of their children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled numerous companies to adopt work-from-home policies. What was once considered a perk primarily for freelancers and certain tech workers has rapidly become the new normal for many employees. This sudden shift has forced companies to accelerate their digital transformation, minimize micromanagement, and foster increased trust in their employees.
However, working from home has brought about challenges that can impact work-life balance, as the line between work and home becomes blurred. Many individuals struggle with switching off from work, leading to potential burnout in the long run. Feelings of loneliness and isolation have also been commonly reported, which can contribute to anxiety and depression. Parents with young or school-age children face additional stress in juggling their workload and parenting responsibilities within the same space. Failing to provide proper structure and support for remote workers can result in higher employee turnover or increased sick leave.
Surveys consistently reveal that the majority of workers prefer a hybrid model, combining remote work with office attendance. This allows employees to benefit from both worlds: sufficient face-to-face interaction with colleagues while also enjoying the time-saving and comfort advantages of working from home.
According to our recent survey on LinkedIn, 47% of respondents identified flexible workspace as the top job perk, followed by flexible work hours and additional holiday days. This underscores the importance of providing employees with the flexibility and autonomy to tailor their work arrangements to suit their individual needs and preferences.
The concept of the traditional 8-hour workday and 5-day workweek originated in the early 1900s, with Henry Ford being one of the pioneers in implementing this schedule. Ford recognized the importance of providing workers with sufficient rest and leisure time, leading to increased productivity and even higher profitability. This approach allowed workers to have the time and resources to purchase Ford cars, contributing to the success of the company.
However, the modern work landscape has undergone significant changes since Ford's time, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the need for flexible work hours. With the closure of schools and childcare facilities, parents were faced with the challenging task of balancing homeschooling and work responsibilities for extended periods. In response, employers had to adapt to this new reality and find ways to support their employees.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of prioritizing employee well-being and considering the end result rather than simply focusing on the number of hours worked. Employers recognized the increased stress levels faced by their teams and sought to create a more supportive and flexible work environment. This shift in mindset emphasized the importance of work-life balance and the need for employers to be understanding and accommodating of their employees' personal circumstances.
As a result, many organizations have embraced flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible work hours, allowing employees to have more control over their schedules and achieve a better work-life balance. By prioritizing employee well-being and focusing on outcomes rather than rigid hours, companies can create a more productive and fulfilling work environment for their teams.
Flexible work schedules, including flexible starting and leaving times and compressed work weeks, offer various advantages for both employees and employers. These arrangements provide employees with greater autonomy over their work hours, enabling them to manage personal matters more effectively and work during their most productive periods.
Flexible starting and leaving times recognize that not everyone operates optimally during traditional office hours. Allowing employees to align their work schedule with their peak productivity times can enhance their overall performance and job satisfaction. It acknowledges the diverse needs and preferences of individuals, promoting a healthy work-life balance.
A compressed work week, where employees work longer hours over fewer days, can offer additional benefits. Having an extra day off allows employees more time for personal pursuits, such as spending time with family, pursuing hobbies, or traveling. This increased personal time can contribute to higher job satisfaction and reduced absenteeism, as employees can allocate their personal tasks and appointments to their day off.
However, it's important to consider potential drawbacks. Deviating from core office hours in flexible work schedules may impact business agility, as coordination and collaboration among team members may be more challenging. It can also affect customer satisfaction if customer service or availability is compromised during non-standard working hours.
Similarly, a compressed work week may result in longer daily work hours, potentially leading to reduced productivity and increased fatigue. It's crucial for employees and employers to establish clear boundaries and ensure adequate rest and recovery time to mitigate potential burnout or performance issues.
Ultimately, finding the right balance and assessing the specific needs and dynamics of each organization is crucial when implementing flexible work schedules. Open communication, clear expectations, and a focus on maintaining productivity and customer satisfaction are essential for the successful implementation of such arrangements.
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.