Corporate culture in the Netherlands
It can be difficult at first to land in a different corporate country. This video of Holland Alumni Network gives a lot of explanation.
Subjects you should know about when working in the Netherlands
Dutch economy and job market
The Dutch economy experienced significant growth in 2017. After the economic crisis that started in 2008, the Dutch economy is now flourishing. Also compared to other countries, the Netherlands is doing well. Research by Legatum Institute, a London-based research institute, has shown that in 2016 the Netherlands took the number 2 position on a list of the 19 most stable, efficient and open economies in the world.
Since 2004, the World Economic Forum publishes annual reports on the competitive strength of countries. In 2017, its research indicated that the Netherlands held the number 4 spot.
The economy is growing, and the labour market is growing with it. 51,000 new jobs were added, 1,000 of which for self-employed workers. This marks the strongest job growth since 2008. The new jobs are chiefly permanent jobs. According to the CBS, in August 2017, the number of full-time and part-time jobs in the Netherlands amounted to 10.2 million.
Interaction in organisations
The Dutch business world is not a high power distance culture. Relations are often based on trust. During a decision-making process, the views of everyone concerned are heard. Everyone’s opinion counts, and often a compromise is reached that is agreeable to all parties. In the Netherlands, many meetings take place during office hours. It is a much-used method to exchange views in the run-up to a decision. This process can take a great deal of time before a decision is made. By contrast, in the Netherlands people like to come straight to the point during an appointment or meeting. In other cultures, it is often customary to get well-acquainted with new business partners, or to spend more time on ‘small talk’ before discussing business.
Writing e-mails or letters
The Dutch do not use titles when they talk to people. In writing, you can state a title, but this is only done in official letters.
Making phone calls
In Dutch business it's important to know how to handle a phone call. In general the dutch always state their name (and if necessary their company name). Even when calling a taxi, order a pizza, or ask for information, it is polite to mention your name. When someone calls you, do the same: pick up the phone and mention your name (and company name).
The typical working hours in the Netherlands are between 09:00am and 05:00pm, this is especially the case with office jobs. Most organisations cannot be contacted before 09:00am and after 05:00am. Other working hours apply to sectors such as the hospitality and building industry, and often to more senior positions.
Dress codes in business settings
In the Netherlands, there are major differences between the way people dress in various business settings. The nature of an organisation is a determining factor when it comes to dress code. Banks are known for their ‘suit culture’, whereas casual clothing (such as jeans and a blouse) is usually the standard for organisations in the cultural sector. One’s mode of transport may also influence the choice of clothing. If you are not sure about the dress code of your organisation, don’t hesitate to ask about it.