Dutch workers to invest more in themselves in 2020

2 January 2020


A major new year’s survey conducted by online pension administrator BeFrank reveals that nearly one in ten people employed in the Netherlands intend to enrol in a training course, programme or other learning event in 2020. Moreover, almost one-quarter of Dutch workers are looking to improve their work-life balance in the coming year, while one-fifth of those surveyed plan to adopt healthier lifestyle habits in the workplace. This latter resolution even slightly outweighs the goal of receiving a pay rise in the new year.

It is worth noting that those planning to attend various types of training and education programmes are turning intention into action, with more than 80% of respondents expecting that they will ‘likely or very likely’ fulfil their 2020 resolution by developing new knowledge and skills. ‘The fact that this year’s survey once again shows that workers are seeking to strengthen their position through training and education is a positive sign. Life expectancy is increasing and so is the state retirement age in the Netherlands and elsewhere. We encourage people to be physically and mentally fit when they retire, and “lifelong learning” certainly contributes to that,’ says BeFrank commercial director Jan Hein Rhebergen. ‘It’s good to see that people are finding that ongoing professional development enrichens their work and brings certain career opportunities within reach.’

More than 25% of those surveyed are choosing to attend these courses through schemes offered by their employers, while more than one-tenth intends to invest in additional know-how and skills outside of the workplace. An equal balance of men and women has made this resolution, unlike the aspiration to be promoted, where 15.3% of men versus 9.4% of women are seeking to move up the ranks. Women, for their part, score marginally higher than their male counterparts when it comes to various ‘social’ goals in the workplace.

Moving towards an even more flexible labour market and achieving a superior work-life balance remain high on the list of priorities for 2020. BeFrank compiled data on Dutch workers’ career perceptions in 2020 and found that improving lifestyle habits in the workplace (20%), reducing the amount of overtime (14.7%), engaging more often in enjoyable activities with colleagues (14%) and finding a new job (8.3%) are all goals for 2020. Whereas in 2019 a total of 11% of respondents intended to combine several jobs, this percentage has fallen to 5.4% in 2020.

More than one-third of those surveyed (34.1%) worked from home part-time in 2019 and intend to keep this up in 2020, versus 47.6% who have no intention of doing so. The remaining 15.8% do not work from home at present but have a strong desire to. A staggering 47.1% of workers in families with children (including teenagers) work from home some of the time and intend to continue this routine in 2020. While, by way of comparison, only 27% of people living alone are part-time teleworkers, this group is more eager than any other to change this: 19.5% would like to work from home at least several hours next year. Broken down by educational level, nearly half (49.4%) of graduates work from home part-time, compared to 16.8% of non-graduates and non-professionals. The extent to which various types of work can only be performed in the actual workplace has not been specified.

Volunteer work
Millions of people in the Netherlands are engaged in some form of unpaid, voluntary employment: at schools, sports clubs, religious organisations or in their own communities.
Without these volunteers, the country would surely come to a grinding halt. The New Year’s survey reveals once again that a significant number of the Dutch population give freely of their time and energy to support others. Nearly one-quarter (23.1%) already volunteer after work in some capacity and would like to continue this in 2020. They will hopefully be able to rely on extra support in the new year, as 14.5% of those surveyed aspire to start volunteering in 2020.

Work and retirement
Less than 20%of Dutch workers know exactly how much disposable income they will have post-retirement, while almost one-third have no idea what their financial situation will be like at that time. When we look at age, we see that it is mainly the youngest workers who have no idea of their post-retirement finances (72%), compared to only 22.7% of those aged 60 and older. ‘This presents a challenge for the market. Pensions are one of the most important financial products you are likely to deal with in your life; therefore, we will continue activating people in 2020 in the same way we have been all along. The resources we will be using include online tools and activation campaigns at clients’ offices. We have found that this approach works, as more than 70% of users are already logging in to our applications regularly,’ Rhebergen says.

Sustainable business
Dutch workers largely support sustainable business practices from a social, economic and environmental perspective. The majority (53.6%) feel it is important that the organisation that employs them is sustainable, while 21% still regard this as being low on the list of priorities. But it is not just millennials who express an interest in this area: research shows that those aged 50+ (57.5%) are somewhat more interested than younger workers (49.4%) in corporate sustainability. We also note the large percentage of ‘don’t know/no opinion’ responses to this question. When presented with the statement: ‘Our organisation will be implementing sustainable practices in 2020,’ 45% of respondents report that they are unsure or have no opinion on the topic – higher than for any other question. ‘We have found that companies are becoming more progressive all the time in their sustainability policies and practices, and the topic is even raised on a regular basis in discussions about pension schemes. There’s a growing interest in sustainable investment of pension assets, for example, and in carbon offset programmes. That’s how we do our bit to ensure a sustainable future,’ Rhebergen says.

When it comes to the economy, only a minority take an upbeat view. A mere 12.3% believe 2020 will top 2019, while this expectation is lowest among the 60+ age cohort, where one-third do not expect to see any improvements in 2020. It should be noted that men have a more positive outlook overall than women. Remarkably, no fewer than 17% of respondents express the certainty that they will have more disposable income, while only 12.3% are confident that we will see sustained economic growth. Evidently, those surveyed view their own personal situation more optimistically than the overall economic outlook. Workers in the 30-39 demographic are the most confident they will see a spike in disposable income in 2020, compared to only 11% of those aged 60 and over.

Rhebergen: ‘I am pleased with the results of this survey. The changes in the responses are marginal compared to last year, but if you go back five years, you’ll find massive differences have occurred since then. More flexible working conditions, a focus on health, social engagement and sustainability are all gaining ground. We can only applaud these trends, as they make us feel hopeful and excited about what the new year will bring.’

What are workers’ goals and needs in 2020?
• More than 70% feel that terms of employment should be tailored to the specific needs of individual employees.
• More than 77% would prefer to receive ongoing feedback rather than attend annual or biannual performance reviews.
• More than 50% believe the 9-to-5, eight-hour workday is obsolete.

About the survey
BeFrank commissioned market research company PanelWizard to conduct a survey in December 2019 among more than 1,076 people aged 25 and up employed by organisations across the Netherlands.

About BeFrank
BeFrank has been operating in the group pension market since 2011 and was the first Premium Pension Institution (PPI) to be established in the Netherlands. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the NN Group, BeFrank offers online pensions, clear communications and innovative services.

For more information contact Isabelle van Ast. E-mail:, Tel: +31 (0)20 5621118.