Foreign knowledge workers in the Netherlands Factors influencing attraction and retention in the Netherlands
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There is a shortage among knowledge workers in the beta-industries in the Netherlands. Because knowledge becomes increasingly specified and mobile due to globalization, companies moreover aim to seek knowledge outside their national boundaries. There are multiple factors that influence the attraction and retention of foreign knowledge workers in the Netherlands. By conducting interviews, the researchers gathered data among foreign knowledge workers that have worked in the Netherlands for a period of 3 years or longer. In addition, the researchers conducted interviews with decision-making units in the field of HRM within organizations. These interviews led to the following results: • The high proficiency of the English language is considered one of the main motivations to migrate to the Netherlands. As every Dutchman is able to speak English, the foreign knowledge worker can easily adept. Later on, when the foreign knowledge worker wants to learn the Dutch language, the advantage becomes a disadvantage, as they cannot practice the Dutch language since everyone is addressing them in English. • The 30% ruling is deemed essential according DMUs in order to be able to compete with organizations in neighbouring countries, regarding the attraction and retention of foreign knowledge workers. Employers should inform and prepare their employees about the time this compensation expires. • Foreign knowledge workers rate the assistance of their employer, regarding residence permits, insurance, taxes and housing, as essential. This will relieve the employee and will allow the employee to focus on the job. • The foreign knowledge workers appreciate the non-hierarchical working environment. This type of environment enables them to express their creative freedom, without any discomfort from their managers. Once the foreign knowledge workers are used to this type of working environment, they will not return to their old environment. • The foreign knowledge workers typically describe the Dutch working environment as ‘work to live, rather than live to work’. This description indicates the unique flexibility of the Netherlands regarding labour conditions, which offers the employees a lot of time to see their friends and families. Downside of this flexibility is that one will not get rich in the Netherlands. • The employer needs to consider the private situation of the foreign knowledge worker. They can consider the facilitation of education and language training for the foreign knowledge workers and their spouses, as the foreign knowledge workers indicate that trouble in their private situation may cause stress and is the main reason for them to leave the Netherlands. • Decision-making units experience the government as a slow and bureaucratic institute. They experience annoyance from the long delays when one is, for example, applying for a visa or the 30% ruling. A more flexible approach of the government could avoid this annoyance and delay among the decision making units and the foreign knowledge workers. • Due to a lack of provision of information regarding the Dutch healthcare, the foreign knowledge workers have a feeling that the general practitioner does not take their symptoms seriously. Proper information could explain how the healthcare system in the Netherlands works and could prevent discomfort at the doctor. • Foreign knowledge workers with children state that the quality of the Dutch education is among the best of the world. This makes foreign knowledge workers doubt whether they want to send their child to a Dutch or an international school. The education of their children is often seen as a decisive factor for foreign knowledge workers in their decision to stay for a longer period in the Netherlands. • The foreign knowledge workers deem their own personal- and career development as essential. When they feel that the organization can no longer provide this personal development or challenge, they start looking out for other alternatives within or outside the Netherlands. • If the size of the organization is taken into account, it strikes that SMEs first of all have less access to foreign knowledge workers. On the contrary, when SMEs have access to foreign knowledge workers, they are reluctant to take to actually hire them. And in general, SMEs have fewer resources to spend on recruitment of foreign knowledge workers. • When the personal background of foreign knowledge workers is taken into account, it turned out that personal characteristics and the family composition have a bigger influence on the attraction and retention of foreign knowledge workers. In the case of the attraction and especially retention of foreign knowledge workers, the ‘soft factors’ are becoming increasingly important. Organizations have to invest in support and guidance of employees with regard to their personal situation. This includes support of their partners and children on integrating in the Dutch society. With the support of the organization, employees feel valued and this increases the probability of foreign knowledge workers to stay in the Netherlands for a longer period of time.