Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Dutch people with jobs are remarkably upbeat

4 January 2022


The pandemic is entering its third year and does not discriminate. Everyone has to adapt to a situation that is changing constantly, especially in terms of work and working conditions. Nonetheless – or perhaps thanks to all the restrictions and improvisations – the majority of the 5.7 million Dutch workers are remarkably upbeat about their situation. This is shown by the large-scale New Year’s Survey 2022 carried out by online pension administrator BeFrank. A better work-life balance is top of the list of New Year’s resolutions.

Overall, the more than one thousand people surveyed are remarkably satisfied with their jobs. And they enjoy their work. Expressed in figures, almost half the respondents (46%) gave their job satisfaction a rating higher than 8. One third (31%) of them gave it a rating of 7. Together, they account for more than 75% of the respondents. The proportion of respondents that gave their job satisfaction a rating of 9 is actually greater than those who gave it a 5 or less: more than 11% versus just over 8% respectively. It should thereby be noted that about 40% indicated that their job satisfaction had declined as a result of the pandemic, against 10% who experienced an improvement. Employed people aged up to 39 mainly experienced a deterioration of their working situation, particularly graduates. Overall, however, the mood is still remarkably upbeat.

Interest in pension terms
The high satisfaction level is reflected in the limited desire to change jobs. In the under 30 age category, more than 20% would prefer not to change organisation. This desire has doubled by the age of around 45. And in the 50 to 59 age category, only 12% are still up for a job with another employer. Together with age, education level has a strong influence on the desire to change jobs. Amongst the most highly educated, a quarter do not rule out a switch of employer, against one tenth of those with the lowest education level. Reasons for changing jobs are 1) higher salary (43%) or 2) a new challenge (27%) and 3) reduced workload and stress (24%). If the possibility of another job arises, a majority – 52% – would include their pension terms in the negotiations.

Credit to flexibility
“I am quite surprised by the upbeat tone of this survey,” comments Jan Hein Rhebergen, managing director of BeFrank. “Of course, every employee who feels their job satisfaction has been diminished by the pandemic is one too many. But I find it encouraging that a majority (almost 60%) were able to adapt under the restrictions, and that they feel they have not suffered any disruption and may even be enjoying an improved situation. This is a credit to the dedication and flexibility of so many people.”

Resolutions for 2022
A new year always offers scope for reflection. It’s the perfect time to formulate some resolutions, including work resolutions.

Top 5 resolutions for 2022

1) Better work-life balance: 29%
2) Take a course or training through work: 24%
3) Healthier lifestyle at work: 19%
4) Ask for a raise: 17%
5) Have more time for socialising outside work: 17%

The likelihood of these resolutions actually becoming a reality is felt to be highest when it comes to taking a course or training through work. This is followed by the resolution to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Despite the fact that the respondents consider their job satisfaction to be high, most can still see room for further improvement.

Top 5 resolutions for extra job satisfaction in 2022:

1) Learn to say ‘No’
2) Take breaks during work more often
3) Move and/or exercise more often during work
4) Separate work and private life better
5) Grumble less

Challenge for employers
For the employer, there are also plenty of opportunities to raise the valued job satisfaction to an even higher level.

1) Offer a better salary
2) Create a good atmosphere on a permanent basis
3) Pay compliments more often
4) Offer employees the freedom to organise their own time
5) Be flexible about taking days off

The answers from the previous New Year’s Survey are almost the same as this year. In addition, the deviations are too small to draw any conclusions. An exception are the responses to the statement ‘working 40 hours a week is a thing of the past’. While in December 2020 half of the people agreed or strongly agreed, this year that figure has increased to 58%.

Sustainable organisation
The survey also examined to what extent the organisation for which respondents work is more sustainable than five years ago. And to what extent respondents feel it is important to work for an organisation that is sustainable. These figures have hardly changed from last year and fluctuate around 54% and 52% in both years. The pandemic does not seem to have affected this.

Volunteering alongside job
It is striking how many working people manage to free up time for voluntary work in addition to their job. No less than 22% do voluntary work, and another 14% plan to do so in 2022. Half of these potential additional volunteers rate the likelihood of actually doing so as high to very high.

Jan Hein Rhebergen also emphasises the opportunities for employers to help employees stay balanced and motivated. “Paying extra attention to a good atmosphere and compliments are easy wins that have a great spin-off as well. Let’s be even more aware of this in the new year, and look out for each other a bit. I would like to wish everyone a good and healthy start to the year.”

About the survey
BeFrank commissioned Panelwizard to conduct a survey in December 2021 among 1091 Dutch people in employment aged 25 years and older.