Introduction

The Netherlands has become a strong player in tech in recent years, ranking 6th in both the Global Innovation Index in 2021 and Insead’s 2022 Global Talent Competitiveness Index. The success of this sector has created a skills and talent gap for the Dutch labour market with quarterly reports by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics regularly showing significantly more vacancies in tech roles than job seekers in The Netherlands. 

For Dutch employers, addressing this imbalance will prove even more challenging in the face of the ongoing Europe-wide battle for tech talent. The future success of the tech industry relies on young tech talent coming into the workforce, but how do you find and keep them? HiBob partnered with Eight Roads to better understand how 20 to 30-year-olds (Gen Z and young millennial employees) in Europe experience the world of work. 

During July and August 2022, we surveyed 2,005 20-30-year-olds across Europe to understand their motivations, detractors and what they’re looking for from their jobs and roles as well as expectations for the future. The Netherlands was one of seven participating countries that also included respondents from the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Spain. 

The survey took place at a time when people were coming to terms with the longterm impact of the pandemic on lives and lifestyles, and just as the economic downturn began to take hold with uncertainty caused by inflation creeping in. At the same time global supply chains continue to experience problems and the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine is impacting energy costs and supplies.  Against this backdrop, these were some of our key takeaways about the young generation in tech (YGIT) in The Netherlands, where thousands of young tech workers are employed by consumer tech, software, internet and gaming companies. 

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Key Takeaways

1. Job security is an important factor for career planning

2. The experience of working in tech leaves much room for improvement

3. Flexible work models are a source of tension

4. Company success and company potential is less of a concern for Dutch YGIT

5. Company advocacy is important—but not everyone is on board

1. Job security is an important factor for career planning

Job security is playing on the minds of many young Europeans. This is the first time they are encountering an economic downturn in their professional life. Young Dutch workers in tech are no exception. In fact, our survey shows that job security is even more of a concern for Dutch YGITs than it is for the average young European worker in tech. For example, fewer Dutch workers feel that their position is secure and that their skills are critical to their company than their European counterparts. A larger proportion also expect to be laid off​​—30% compared to the European average of 27%.

The current economic downturn also seems to have had more of an impact on young Dutch tech workers than on young tech workers in other countries. Fewer young Dutch workers say that it has had no impact on their career plans—41% compared to a 46% European average. More Dutch workers say that it has changed their plans—41% compared to a European average of 36%. 

Since they feel less secure in their jobs and the current economic downturn has affected their career plans more, young Dutch workers in tech are more motivated to take action to secure better career opportunities.  Only 21% of YGITs in the Netherlands said that they plan to stay with their current company in the foreseeable future, compared to the 29% European average. 16% are already looking for another job, compared to the European average of 11%.   

Since they feel less secure in their jobs and the current economic downturn has affected their career plans more, young Dutch workers in tech are more motivated to take action to secure better career opportunities. Only 21% of YGITs in the Netherlands said that they plan to stay with their current company in the foreseeable future, compared to the 29% European average. 16% are already looking for another job, compared to the European average of 11%.

2. The experience of working in tech leaves much room for improvement

When asked to rate their experience of working at their current company, YGIT in the Netherlands responded similarly to the European average.  30% reported their work experience is below their expectations, 43% indicated it was fair, and 27% that it exceeded their expectations. As with other countries, there is room for improvement in these metrics for employers in The Netherlands . Providing a better experience for young workers may allow employers to gain an edge in a competitive arena. 

3. Flexible work models are a source of tension

Flexible work models introduce an additional complication when trying to create a work experience that meets the needs and expectations of young workers in tech. It’s clear young Dutch workers value flexibility. When asked what motivated them to join their current company, Dutch workers rated all factors lower than the European average except for a flexible working model, which they rated a full five percentage points higher than in Europe as a whole—30% compared to the European average of 25%. 

The survey showed that Dutch employers are in sync with employee preferences and expectations. More young Dutch workers were offered a hybrid, fully remote, work-from-home, or a four-day week model than young tech workers in other European countries—91% compared to the European average of 80%. 

However, similar to their counterparts in other countries, alternative work models aren’t straightforward for young Dutch workers in tech. 33% feel that they don’t have enough time in the office, and therefore are less engaged and have less time to build relationships, the same number as the European average.

It seems that although Dutch YGITs value flexibility, it has a negative impact on their experience at work and their ability to foster work relationships and a sense of belonging. Tech companies need to take note of this feedback and offer more company and manager communications as well as activities that bring hybrid and remote teams together to meet and interact to create a better balance for their young staff.

Similarly to European workers in tech, Dutch workers felt that the lack of time in the office was affecting their ability to build relationships. It is what they disliked most about their current company.
Further complicating the picture, when asked what mostly motivated them to join their current company,  Dutch workers rated flexible work frameworks 5 points higher (30%) over their European counterparts, and 91% work in a flexible work model.

4. Company success and company potential is less of a concern for Dutch YGIT

Young Dutch workers place less importance on company potential than their European counterparts, both in terms of the company’s mission and impact, and the financial potential of an “exit” (sale)  or IPO.

Results were similar when asked what motivated them to join their current company. Only 21% ranked the future potential of the company as important, compared to the European average of 27%. 

In fact, the results on this topic were consistent across the board. When asked what would encourage them to stay with their current company, Dutch YGIT didn’t rate the significant growth and success of the company as highly as other European workers did. 

These results indicate that Dutch YGIT are more focused on their current experience at work and are less sold on dreams of the future success of the tech company they work for.  

5. Company advocacy is important—but not everyone is onboard

Employee advocacy can play a significant role in tech, especially among younger workers for whom social connections are often very impactful. However, advocacy is only effective if workers are engaged and have a good experience. Young workers in tech in The Netherlands advocate less for their employers overall and are much less likely to recommend their company than other young Europeans in tech.

Conversely,  25% of the Dutch respondents said that a friend approaching them might entice them to join another company—5% more than the European average. That’s a statistic that shows that Dutch YGIT trust their friends to help them choose the company to join more than they rate a company’s reputation.

Additional Dutch YGIT highlights from our study

Personal Status

One thing that may be having a significant impact on the way young tech workers in The Netherlands perceive work is their personal and parental status. Although the gender and age distribution of YGIT in the Netherlands was similar to the overall sample, a higher percentage of the Dutch respondents are parents or in cohabiting relationships. 50% of YGIT in The Netherlands are married or living with a partner compared to 44% of their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, and 40% are parents compared to the European average of 37%. It’s important for employers to take note of this statistic when considering the needs of young workers in tech in The Netherlands. 

What they dislike 

As mentioned above Dutch workers feel that they don’t have enough time in the office and therefore are less engaged. They also dislike the fact that they don’t have a clear career path. 

Young Dutch workers differ from their European counterparts when it comes to what will entice them to join another company. Compensation was less important to them—only 26% of the Dutch respondents rated a better compensation package as something that would entice them to move to another company, 10% less than the European average of 36%. A flexible work style was also less important to them, despite the fact that they ranked it as one of the main reasons for joining their current company further highlighting the tension described above. Concrete support for career development doesn’t have as significant of an impact either—only 22% of Dutch respondents rated it as important compared to the European average of 28%. 

So, what does matter to young Dutch workers?  A whopping 40% rated a better title or a promotion as something that could entice them to move to another company indicating that employers in tech companies need to pay attention to career paths and promotion planning. The driven ambitious young generation that join the tech industry are expecting to advance their careers or they will be enticed to move on. Another number that stood out was that 25% of Dutch YGIT would be influenced by a friend’s invitation to work with them at a new company, emphasizing the importance of referral programs in this Dutch tech market. 

63% of the survey respondents in this cohort were not parents to children.

Ideal company to join

When asked about the ideal company to join, young Dutch tech workers scored flexible work arrangements lower than the European average, rating elements like leading technology, a secure compensation package, and a career path higher. This is yet another illustration of the tension inherent in flexible work models. They rated a great company culture higher than the European average, something that HR teams in The Netherlands should take note of both in recruitment and retainment strategies, and when planning ways to engage a remote or hybrid workforce.

Summary

To sum it all up, the current economic situation matters to YGIT in The Netherlands and it’s impacting the way they think and plan their career plans. Flexible work models are here to stay in The Netherlands and are a must in recruitment, but employers need to do more to meet Dutch YGIT needs for interaction and opportunities to build relationships with their colleagues. That, in turn, will help engage young Dutch workers in recruitment, where they have the potential to play a significant role. 

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YGIT research questions

The research questions were categorized into five sections representing the workplace journey for YGIT.

A. YGIT workplace point of view

B Criteria for joining the current company

C. Current company work experience

D. Incentives for staying with the current company

E. Reasons for leaving

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Findings

A. YGIT workplace point of view

1. Workplace conditions valued most

Tech companies in Europe offer a variety of progressive workplace & employment models. A combination of these conditions are being offered to YGIT. Of them, flexible work has become the most valued benefit followed by the company’s strength and financial security. YGIT is also aware of the market conditions and the company’s strength is important to them.

2. The ideal company of choice

Respondents were asked to share their perspective on the ideal tech company for them to join if they could choose the one they wanted. The top answers again show that current market conditions are affecting this generation’s need for job security, and that an ideal company to join is one that offers a secure compensation package, is a leading tech brand, or a well-funded start-up that is financially secure for 12-24 months.

3.Past experience changing companies

This cohort of young professionals is generally not resistant to changing workplaces. It is highly likely that young professionals that choose the tech industry as their place to develop their careers are less apprehensive about changing their full-time employment. The research directly asked how many companies they have worked for as full-time employees before the current company. 33% of the respondents have worked for 2 companies before their current company, 22% have worked for 3 and 20% worked for 1. They have experience in looking for a job, finding one, accepting one and moving on. 75% have previous work experience with 2 – 5 other companies.

4. Future expectations of changing companies

When examining future career strategies YGIT expects to change companies in the future as well. 47% believe that they will work for 0-5 companies in the future, 27% believe that they will work for 6-10 companies and 11% believe that they will change to 11-15 companies. Since 20-30-year-olds have another 35-40 years of managing their working careers (until the current retirement age of 65-70) and the expectation of more than 50% is to switch between 6-20 companies, dividing the number of years left in their career by the number of companies they expect to change, the prediction is that they will stay with a company between 2 and 6 years.

5. Reasonable tenure

An interesting finding is that 25% of the YGIT do not believe in staying at the company if they find they don’t want to. In the past it was considered inappropriate to leave the company without at least staying for a year. In addition, 15% say that they would leave as soon as possible if they feel the role was not working out as anticipated. It is interesting to see that 48% of the respondents believe that a reasonable tenure is between 1 year and 5 years while 52% of the respondents effectively do not attach a set timeframe around what a reasonable tenure should be.

6. YGIT approach to a smart career path

This question was asked in order to report the perceived approach of YGIT to building careers correctly. Is there an inherent belief that switching companies is the way to move up in one’s career? Is owning your own company the right way to go? The top 3 answers again point to a career with higher job security and more certainty.

35% said staying at the same company and gaining tenure and seniority is a smart career approach and 30% said working at well-known brands is the best approach. Third most important is the strategy of working with talented people and learning new skills for them. Least chosen was the path of joining a start-up on its way to an IPO or Exit. Once again, it seems like the YGIT is thinking about job security and certainty when thinking strategically about career moves.

7. The effect of the economic downturn on career choices

Respondents were asked to rate the impact of the economic downturn on their career plans on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 equals no impact on career plans, job search, or employment considerations and 10 equals a complete change to their plans.

46% expressed low impact and 54% expressed high impact or a complete change of plans. Once again, the majority of this YGIT cohort are demonstrating the impact that current macro volatility has on their career decision-making.

B. Criteria for joining their current company

1. Awareness about the current company and how they found their job

YGIT uses modern methods to find the company they want to join. Identifying the right company and the right motivations has been critical to their career success. The importance of skilled employees in the tech industry is evident from the amount of outreach directed at YGIT. Overall, 50% actively reached out to join the company to apply for their role while 50% were approached by their friends, HR or recruiters.

2. Motivation to join the current company

When asked to select the motivation that led them to choose their current company, there were many answers suggesting many drivers. Since there is an even split of 50/50% between respondents approached by those hiring, and individuals who proactively reached out to their company, it is interesting to see that 27% mentioned the future potential of the company as an important motivation for them and 25% mentioned job security as being a critical factor. Next ranking motivation to join is the flexible working model that was offered. Flexibility after job and company security is key to motivating YGIT talent.

3. Flexible work models offered when joining

In the last few years, several flexible work models have been offered to tech employees. Most common are flexible work hours with 41% of the respondents working in this way. In addition, 38% were offered hybrid work that allows them to work from home or work from the office alternately. This flexible model became especially popular during the Covid pandemic when many were required to work from home and today post-pandemic, the hybrid model provides the flexibility of less commuting and more focus time at home. Interestingly, the 4 day work model was offered to 24% of the respondents. This is considered an excellent model to promote work-life balance. Some companies offer 2 weeks a month of 4 days, and 2 weeks of 5 days, a hybrid approach to the 4 and 5 day work week.

C. Current company work experience

1. Current work experience

YGIT reports a mixed bag of attitudes towards current work experiences, with about a third disappointed overall while 26% cite their experience exceeds expectations.

2. Current job security

YGIT is aware of the economic downturn in the market, and 27% mentioned that they expect to lose their job during this time. This is a similar portion to the ones mentioning that their work experience is below expectations. At the other end, 32% are very confident in their role and are sure that their skills are critical to the company.

3. Work-life balance experience

In general, YGIT knows what they are getting into when joining a tech start-up or scale up. Long hours and stressful days are part of the industry culture. However, with flexible hours and hybrid work
models
, work-life balance is achievable.

Overall, most respondents are satisfied with the work-life-balance they are achieving. 41% said it is just right, 29% are saying that it is much better than they expected and 12% say it is not a factor for
them at this time.

Altogether it is safe to say that 82% are comfortable with the balance between work and personal time. Less supported are 18% who say that their work-life balance is worse than they expected.

4. Career development support

The top 3 career development support programs for this cohort are not formal programs, instead they are dependent on the company culture of the organization. 36% said their company supports their development when their manager allows them to participate and learn new skills (good management).
33% say they have career development support as the company is growing and the opportunities are abundant, and 26% see cross-departmental projects with interesting colleagues as a career development opportunity. It is interesting to see that formal programs for development are much less prevalent. Only 25% say that they have a clear career path mapped out for them by the company. Knowing that 50% get approached for new opportunities by other companies, the findings indicate employers should look to invest and prioritize formalizing career progression paths for YGIT working for them.

5. The company referral program for employees

A company referral program success is a good sign of employee engagement. Employees who are willing to reach out to their friends and bring them to their tech company are considered very engaged and are often rewarded with a bonus for this extra effort. Bringing your friends to your company is the clearest
sign of satisfaction. Since attracting talent is not an easy task it is good practice to bring in people
who are skilled, and your friends at the same time. Companies that don’t have a referral program are missing out on the opportunity to benefit from their employees’ networks. 28% mention that they are active participants in the referral program, these are engaged employees helping their company recruit
new hires. 11% are employees that do not participate in the referral program which means they are not comfortable bringing their friends to the company, indicating lower levels of job satisfaction.

D. Incentives to staying with their current company

1. Expectations of staying with the current company

While 33% of respondents are saying they have no intention of leaving their company in 2022, we are approaching Q4 and 2023 is just around the corner. In addition, 18% are expecting to be promoted
or will leave and 9% claim to switch companies every couple of years. The ones very likely to leave soon are the 11% that report that they are currently looking for a job.

2. Likelihood to recommend their company to a friend

Overall the report shows that 30% of respondents would recommend their company to a friend or acquaintance and 30% would not recommend it

3. What will encourage YGIT to stay with their current company

Acutely aware of the economic conditions, the cost of living and the possible downturns, when choosing between actions that the company can take to encourage them to stay with their current company, 37% say they would expect a promotion, 30% say they would expect a better compensation package and
26% see a future with the company when their company is successful and growing. Only 15% think that potential windfall from a near future IPO or Exit will keep them. It is clear that near-term concerns are stronger.

4. What do YGIT like most about their current company

YGIT actually values the experience they have with their co-workers. There is a cycle of friends joining, friends bringing friends and making the work experience better thanks to these relationships. The top 3 things they like most about their company are: relationships with co-workers (35%), their role, and what they do (33%) and their immediate team (24%). Even though it is popular to think that YGIT is here because of their compensation package, it is only true for 20% of the respondents.

E. Reasons for leaving

1. What do YGIT dislike about their current company

When asked what they dislike most about their company 24% attributed this to the lack of a clear career path. YGIT expects the company to work with them and build a path they can work towards. 23% are not satisfied with their compensation package and 18% complain about their relationship with their manager.
Interesting to note are the 17% that are unhappy about not having enough time in the office, and 15% about not having enough opportunities to build relationships with their team. Both answers chosen represent the perils of remote, hybrid and work-from-anywhere models where many employees don’t meet others face to face.

2. How often are YGIT approached about a new role by other companies

The talent market never sleeps and while employees work at one job they are approached frequently by their friends and or recruiting teams in other companies. The extent to which this happens is intense with 50% approached at least monthly. 50% are either approached rarely or once in the past 6-12 months. So even the most engaged employees can be enticed if they don’t have a clear career path or a good relationship with their manager.

3.What will entice YGIT to join another company

Enticement is the word. When 50% are approached by other companies between daily and monthly, 36% say they can be enticed with a better compensation package, 34% say a promotion or a better title and 29% say that more flexible work is a true enticement for them. The new world of work includes flexible working models that should not be ignored.