5 tips to bind expats to your company

As a company, you invest in every employee. Hiring international knowledge workers could cost you more energy and money, which is why you aim for a long-term relationship. How do you bind expats to your company for more than 2 years?

1. There is no average in expats

Queen Maxima has said it before: there is no average Dutchman or woman, nor is there a ‘typical’ expat. Someone looking for work within the Netherlands could have various reasons to be working here. It could be a better work-life balance for an American, or an engineer from India could be moving because of too much competition from others in his own country. A Brazilian could hope to have a better future perspective for his family, and a Japanese could want to investigate what it is that drives our high productivity. 

2. A warm welcome home

Housing is the first thing to be arranged. Preferably before arrival so that people know where they are going to live. Create peace in the practical matters that have to be arranged, because secretly a lot comes at them in a language they are not yet proficient in. Think of visas, municipality, taxes etc. We can take over these matters (whether or not) on behalf of the company. The training period at work and getting used to the Dutch (business) culture already require enough energy. Also think about daily commuting. Many expats want to live in the bustling center of a city but cannot (yet) cycle.

3. Ensure good reception, even outside working hours

A warm welcome, proposals to all new colleagues and a good introduction to the company. For many Dutch people it is nice and cozy to have colleagues and we usually still come to a Friday afternoon drink, but after 6 pm it is private time and we only go out for dinner with business partners if necessary. We prefer not to see colleagues at weekends, either. If you as an expat come from a work culture where you consider colleagues as friends, then this takes some getting used to and not the starting point of social contacts in your free time. So who are you going to see in your spare time?

4. Longer vacations to visit family

Many expats leave their family and friends behind and would like to take a long holiday in the summer or around Christmas to go home. Discuss when the peaks fall in workload and when there is more room to take a longer holiday.

5. After the first 6 months, offer a Dutch course

My experience is that after two years of working in the Netherlands, highly educated knowledge workers draw up the balance and decide to stay or go. People who book a Dutch course a few months after arriving in the Netherlands will feel at home more quickly, and will therefore also decide to stay longer. Because how nice is it when you can communicate with your older neighbor or when you are a member of a sports club you can really follow the conversations.

And their children speak the Dutch language quickly, as a parent you don’t want to be left behind. After 2 years, expats also often come to the point, we continue to rent a house or we buy a house. We can advise them on this. Expats have become an indispensable workforce for many companies and critical to business growth. Attracting expats usually requires a considerable investment and it is a pity that an expat would just walk out the door after 2 years. I therefore hope that these tips help make expats feel welcome at companies and in the Netherlands. Do you have experience with expats in your company and do you have any good tips? I like to hear them.

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