Moving to a new country to live and work can feel daunting at first. But it doesn’t have to be – especially when it’s somewhere with a warm and welcoming culture like the Netherlands. At InAxtion, we know it can take time for employees from other EU countries to adjust to Dutch culture. So, we’d like to share 5 things you should know about life in the Netherlands.
1 Expect honesty and directness
People from the Netherlands tend to be very honest and open, particularly when it comes to giving feedback. That means we speak very directly. This can take some getting used to, especially if in your home culture people tend to give polite hints.
In the workplace, everyone is expected to be direct with each other – regardless of their role in the organization. Constructive criticism is welcomed as an opportunity to improve. Our advice? Don’t take it personally and feel comfortable about being honest with others.
Take this example. Imagine you see a colleague connecting cables incorrectly. Rather than trying to be respectful – by not saying anything – it’s good to speak up and give your opinion in a polite way.
This could stop something going wrong further down the line. Say something like: “I see that you’re doing it this way. In my opinion, it might work better if you tried it this way”.
2 Understand ‘flat organizations’
The landscape of the Netherlands is not the only thing that’s flat! Many companies have a flat structure. What does that mean? The workplace is more equal, and everyone’s opinion is valued. Leaders and managers expect you to voice what you think, rather than saying nothing at all.
Unlike some work cultures – where people in more senior roles are always expected to be right – in the Netherlands leaders know that they’re not always the experts – and so they’ll expect you to contribute your knowledge and ideas.
This more informal leadership style extends to break times and lunch times as well, where your supervisors are likely to eat with you, and make conversation. In other EU countries, that’s not always the case, so it can be harder to fit in and get involved in conversations.
We have a diverse population in the Netherlands, with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. This is reflected in the workplace. For that reason, almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks a little English – so it’s often easier to communicate with people from different countries.
3 Get used to a cooler climate
If you’re used to working in hot countries – such as Spain and Portugal – then you might need to adjust to the cooler climate of the Netherlands.
It’s in a temperate zone, so expect temperatures to average around 3°C in winter and 17°C in summer. That means you may need to wear an extra-layer of clothing to stay warm, and your accommodation may need heating sooner than you think in the colder months.
For engineers in locations such as tank farms and factories, it can get very hot. For that reason, the cooler climate can be seen as more of an advantage.
4 Learn how to ride a bike
Did we mention that the Netherlands is flat? For that reason, bikes are a really popular mode of transport. In fact, on a large worksite you’re likely to use a bike to travel between locations as opposed to a car or another type of vehicle – even when it’s very cold! Our advice is to make sure you can ride a bike.
5 Celebrate birthdays in a circle
If you stay in the Netherlands for an extended period of time, you’ll almost certainly find yourself invited to a circle party. This is a traditional Dutch way of celebrating someone’s birthday.
As the name suggests, it involves sitting in a circle – typically with multiple generations of a family – and sharing tea and cake together. Attendees greet each other by saying ‘gefeliciteerd’ which translates as ‘congratulations’. Everyone at the party is congratulated on behalf of the person whose birthday it is.
Work in the Netherlands through InAxtion
At InAxtion we pride ourselves on being more than just an employer to EU citizens moving to the Netherlands to work. We consider ourselves our employees’ family away from home. That’s why we help them to quickly settle into Dutch culture.
Are you based in the EU, and seeking work as a mechanic or electrical engineer in the Netherlands? InAxtion can help. Search our current vacancies