Making a virtue of necessity
In this tight labour market, the limits will be pushed to find and attract the right personnel. In recent years, a shift has already become visible which has made a virtue out of necessity.
Hiring knowledge migrants has several advantages. Listed below are some of them:

  • Increase of team diversity

Suppose you have a team with the same technical people, but from different countries, then you have a wider spectrum of perspectives due to the difference in background and knowledge.

  • Broader customer portfolio

Knowledge migrants can level with potential customers in their country (of origin), making business much easier and often more fruitful.

  • Increase of team spirit

Expats working in an international team feel more connected to each other, to the work, and to the employer. This, in turn, leads to higher productivity and creativity.

  • Easier sales

Are you planning to operate internationally or looking to expand internationally? Then bringing in new customers is easier with a multicultural team. The expats know the customs from their own countries to do business and deploy the right marketing strategy.

  • Extensive network

Through the personal network of the expat(s), it becomes easier to recruit abroad. The bigger the international team, the larger the network and the faster open positions are filled.

The Netherlands has a luxury position when it comes to attracting expats, or knowledge migrants. Our country has everything, such as a good investment climate. Large companies and well-known brands are based here and have years of experience in hiring and retaining international talent. These companies have both money and the knowledge at their disposal, to keep operating on this level.

Expatriate expectations of the Netherlands are high, as many companies have settled here. Many knowledge migrants would like to work at the same well-known brands, and this can lead to a barrier while applying for jobs because of the high competition. A solution for the knowledge migrants would be to apply at the smaller and even “unknown” companies. A remarkable fact is that these companies often set the Dutch language as an obligation for potential employees, despite their activity in an international environment.

Due to ignorance, small/medium-sized companies may hold off on hiring expats. A common thought is that immigration regulations are to complex. While holding off is a missed opportunity to hire the right personnel, especially in this tight labour market. Now recruiting the right staff has become even more important compared to previous years. Work needs to be done carefully, priority in the balance of workload, continuing to take on new assignments, etc.

Retaining expats
A highly skilled migrant under the age of 35 stays in the Netherlands for an average of 2.3 years. This period can be extended easily by focusing on the employee’s current stay.
The most common “mistake” is that companies only focus on attracting international talent, while this can be a waste of money as soon as there is no aftercare. Ideally, you want to spread the one-time investment cost of bringing international knowledge to the Netherlands over a long(er) period, so that the costs and benefits are balanced.
There are several ways to ensure that expats will commit longer to your organization and to the Netherlands. Here are some examples:

  • Feeling welcome

All nationalities should feel welcome in the organization. You can implement this in the canteen by offering different food and worlds. Not just the odd cheese sandwich in the canteen, but broaden the offer with dishes from different cuisines with accompanying cutlery/chopsticks etc. Create diverse cultural worlds/ambiance so that everyone can be introduced to a different world. In addition, creating a corner with microwaves is also recommended. This allows employees to bring, reheat and consume their own home-made meals.

  • Recognize cultural differences

Differences between nationalities can be significant. Keep these in mind during meetings, project work, review moments, etc.
Asians are known for not wanting to lose face. They protect others and therefore their managers. A consequence of this is that Asians in the Netherlands do not (quickly) enter into discussions or contradict their manager. In the Netherlands, we are used to discussing opportunities with each other and standing up for yourself to a manager. Take the knowledge migrant into the workplace customs “dare to speak up”.
In addition, agreements made may have a different meaning in different countries. As an example: Asians do exactly what is asked of them or “a deal is a deal”. The Dutch often do more (or slightly different) than what was agreed. This should also be considered in the work environment.

  • Discuss patterns and habits

As an employer provide relevant advice to your foreign employee. Every little bit helps to build bridges between the differences in cultures to make them feel at home faster. For example, think about information regarding store opening hours, the segregated work-life of Dutch people. If you have just moved somewhere new,  introduce yourself to the neighbours. In other countries, this custom can be the exact opposite.

  • Learning Dutch

Take advantage of the conveniences especially in social life, if the knowledge migrant learns a little Dutch. Think of having a chat with strangers (sports mates, at the cash register, the neighbours, etc.), but also, for example, when children are involved or coming.

  • Learning to adapt

Both the organization and colleagues must learn to adapt to the expat, but it is also particularly important for a balanced interaction that the expat adapts as well to the company and the Netherlands. It can be a missed opportunity if the employer only judges whether there is a match based on a CV. For the complete picture, it is wiser to assess the personality to see if it actually fits the company.
Provide opportunities for career development so that the expat has a future perspective, otherwise they will be gone in short period of time.

  • How are you?

It sounds simple but be genuinely interested in the expatriate employee and ask how they are really doing. By starting the conversation, certain aspects will come up that will catch their attention. You may be able to make a significant difference to the expat with something small.

  • Event

Organize something interactive, which can be something small such as each nationality has its own stand. For each booth, colleagues can show/taste/hear/feel something typical of their country and/or culture. This will introduce you to other customs in a fun way.

  • Understanding

Even though a relocation is good for the career and personal development of the knowledge migrant with the corresponding financial compensation, it remains a big decision. Leaving behind family, friends and social life always has an impact on the expat. Especially in the first months where the foreign worker experiences a “grieving process”. You can support knowledge migrants by giving them space and time to adjust to the new environment. In addition, understanding his/her situation is important for further success in settling and retaining the employee within the organization. You can read more about this grieving process in the article The shadow side of expatriation

In short, in this tight labour market a virtue has been made of a necessity by looking for suitable personnel outside the Dutch borders. Highly skilled migrants comes with many advantages, but the focus must then be on retaining these expats, or good aftercare. Otherwise, they will leave at short notice and that will have negative consequences on your experience and generates a cost/benefit imbalance, among other things.

Do you want more information about hiring knowledge migrants? Global Relocation Compass can completely take care of the immigration and relocation process. Think of applying for recognized sponsorship, residence permits, registration of the municipality, 30% ruling, opening bank accounts, health insurance, education for the children, etc.
Feel free to contact us at or 0031 6 823 80 801.