Hopes & Fears 2022

Workers are strong in tight labour market

Long exposure, drone shot of cars moving in different directions at night, with triangle graphics on top

More salary, promotion or a new job

Employees with scarce or special skills feel they have a strong position in the labour market. A significant number of them say they will ask for a raise or a promotion in the coming year, or look for a new job. This is one of the results of PwC's Hopes & Fears 2022, a survey of employees' experiences and expectations of their jobs. The survey - of more than 51,000 employees from 44 countries, including 1,043 in the Netherlands - offers employers points of departure for their HR and recruitment policies.

Long exposure, drone shot of cars moving in different directions at night, with triangle graphics on top
Chapter 2

Take employee demands into account

Many Dutch employees are satisfied with their jobs, but in the 'war on talent' they feel secure enough to make demands.

  • 82 percent of Dutch respondents are more or less satisfied with their current jobs. 45 percent said they were very satisfied, which is high compared to the global result (28 percent very satisfied). 
  • 61 percent of respondents said that their job requires special skills. Almost half of them (49 per cent) think there is a shortage of those skills in the labour market.
  • The good news is that a high percentage of employees surveyed would recommend their employer as a good place to work. Employers should note that their employees will be asking for salary increases or promotions in the coming year. Respondents who say they have scarce skills are more likely to ask for salary increases and promotions than those who say they do not need special skills in their jobs.
  • A third of those surveyed are thinking about looking for a new job in the next 12 months. 21 percent are (almost) certain to change jobs in the coming year.

How likely are you to take the following actions with your employer within the next 12 months?

62% of respondents will probably ask for a salary increase

  • Likely
  • Not likely
Recommend your employer as a place to work
Ask for a raise
Ask for a promotion
Switch to a new employer
Leave the workforce temporarily or permanently
Reduce my working hours
Increase my working hours

Bastiaan Starink: Future of Work leader at PwC Netherlands

‘Discuss working hours with part-timers’

‘What strikes me about these results is that the number of people who want to reduce their working hours is greater than the percentage of employees who are considering working more. This may have something to do with issues such as work pressure and stress experienced by employees.

This outcome worries me. The shortage in the labour market is a complex social problem for which there is no single solution. But extending the working hours of part-timers certainly contributes to relief, both for employers and for society as a whole.

Employers should start a conversation with part timers about increasing their working hours. And especially about what they need in their working conditions to do so. For example, offering flexibility of work in time or place or other changes in working conditions may open possibilities.  The government can also contribute by reducing the marginal tax burden in such a way that working more hours actually pays off.’

Chapter 2

Invest in employees, but also look at other options

Many employers are faced with (impending) shortages of specific skills. In order to maintain these skills, they mainly invest in their existing workforce. According to the employees surveyed, there is much less focus on looking for alternatives.

  • 41 percent of those questioned indicated that their employer is trying to solve the shortage of skills through additional training. A quarter has increased the salaries of employees with specific skills.
  • A fifth of the employers try to retain people by supporting their mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Outsourcing and automating work has less priority.
  • It is noteworthy that only a relatively small percentage of employers are committed to recruiting employees from groups that they had not previously targeted as potential employees. In other words, most employers do not seem to be increasing the pool of talent they can recruit from.

Bastiaan Starink: Future of Work leader at PwC Netherlands

‘Employers need to be more creative’

‘Of more than 1,000 Dutch respondents to this survey, only 40 percent said that their employer used further training as a means of retraining or building skills. So there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to retraining employees. An adequate set of skills is necessary to keep organisations running now, but also in the future. 

It is almost disappointing that so few employers are broadening their recruitment efforts to include groups that they do not yet have in their sights as potential employees. In my own practice I often see employers thinking that if they just raise salaries, people will stay or come. But that is not the case; it takes much more than that. These results translate almost automatically into the call for employers to be more creative in their recruitment and in finding other solutions for the labour market shortage, such as the use of technology. They have to start thinking and operating much more outside the box'.

What is your employer doing to address shortages in skills/hours?

Internal changes

Upskilling workers
Increasing wages
Supporting workers with physical and mental well-being
Automating and/or enhancing work via technology

Changes in recruitment

Widening recruitment to include more diverse workers
Recruiting workers with lower qualifications or less experience
Outsourcing work to third parties
Hiring qualified workers from overseas
Chapter 2

Salary is important, but not everything

In an uncertain economic time with high inflation, salary remains one of the most important factors for employees. But it is not the only one. As we saw in our Hopes & Fears survey last year, employees are also looking for meaningful work and for ways to make the most of their skills.

  • 78 percent of those surveyed said they can be themselves at work.
  • When people are looking for new work, they find fair pay (i.e. not much pay) very important. Zooming in on age groups, we see that the reward factor is more important for younger workers than for older ones: for the so-called millennials (age between 26 and 41), reward is the most important aspect when looking for a new job. This is in line with what we saw earlier in our study What does young talent want? - PwC Workforce Preference Study Netherlands.
  • The fact that autonomy is important to employees is also reflected in a preference for hybrid work. About half of those surveyed can work remotely. Of this group, about half work mainly at home. Those who work primarily at home expect that their employer will want to see them in the office more in twelve months' time.

How important are the following factors to you when considering making a change in work environment?

(only extreme/very important)

  • Compensation
  • Meaning
  • Confidence/competence
  • Autonomy
I am fairly rewarded for my work
I find my job fulfilling
I can truly be myself at work
My team cares about my well-being
My managers considers my viewpoint when making decisions
I can be innovative/ creative in my job
The work I do has significant impact on my team’s performance
I can do my work in a way that suits me
I can exceed expectations in my job
I have a clear career plan plan with my current employer
I can choose when I work
I can choose where I work

Leadership & Change

Differentiate in terms of employment

If a salary is not in line with the market or competitive, it is a dissatisfier, but in general it appears time and time again that much more is needed to bind people to an organisation.

For employers, it is essential - especially in the tight labour market in which we currently find ourselves - to investigate what really drives people and what makes the difference. That gives direction to the package of employment conditions you offer. And think about differentiation in the offer, which enables you to respond adequately to different wishes and needs. For a young employee entering the housing market, the level of salary may be crucial. An employee with family care responsibilities may have a greater need for flexibility in time or place.

Chapter 2

Translate ESG objectives to the workplace

ESG (environmental, social, governance) impact is high on the agenda of both employers and employees. Employees believe that their employers should be transparent about the achievement of their social goals. Translating climate objectives to the shop floor seems to be difficult. But when employees discuss political or social issues, the effect is positive rather than polarising.

  • Employees (61 per cent) find transparency on health and safety most important. This may be related to the epidemic and the 'new way of working' associated with it. This is followed by transparency on economic aspects such as jobs, taxes, wages (51 per cent), diversity (49 per cent) and climate policy (44 per cent).
  • It is striking that only 17 percent of respondents experience help and support in reducing their own environmental impact. Many companies have included objectives in their strategy for reducing their CO2 emissions, but it seems that these are not being translated into behavioural change on the shop floor. We also saw this in a different way in our CEO Survey: climate objectives are more often part of the strategy than of the performance objectives of executives. 
  • 55 percent of respondents often or sometimes have conversations at work about political or social issues. The group that brings up potentially sensitive subjects experiences more positive than negative effects.

My employer has supported and helped me with:

(only extreme/very important)

  • Governance
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • None
Protecting company and/or customer data
Managing my own well-being
Improving diversity and inclusion within my team
Working effectively with people who share different views
Making ethical decisions
Minimising the environmental impact of my job
None of the above

Leadership & Change

Make ESG policy small and concrete

In these results you see that ESG policy is still in its early stages at  many organisations. Targets are set at macro level, but employees are not yet included. Top-down policy is necessary: if the leadership does not show that ESG objectives are important and does not promote them, it has no chance. But on top of that comes the bottom-up perspective: how can I as an individual contribute? It is crucial that people feel supported and facilitated in this. To give an example, we have recently introduced the EFI tool that shows the individual footprint of business travel. That narrows the topic from abstract strategy to individual behaviour. By making your footprint very concrete, you can talk to each other, but also with clients, about different ways of working.

What impact, if any, have conversations with colleagues about social and/or political issues had on your work environment?

Positive impact

It has allowed me to understand my colleagues better
It has created a more open and inclusive work environment
It has helped me process my views
It has made me more confident to share my views
It has increased my empathy

Negative impact

It has made me reluctant to share my views
It has increased my stress at work
It has made it more difficult for me to work with people who share different views
It has made me feel more isolated in my views
It has decreased my productivity at work
None of the above

Leadership & Change

Don't just have difficult conversations at the coffee machine

No employer wants to bring in the polarisation of the street and social media.  As an employer you must therefore provide standards and guidelines in terms of listening to each other and treating each other with respect. You have to prevent this conversation from taking place only at the coffee machine. In a business setting, it is advisable to facilitate and organise the dialogue. If a topic is a live issue in society - think of Black Lives Matter or transgressive behaviour - you can hold such dialogue sessions. It requires an investment of time, effort and sometimes money, but it really pays off. This research clearly shows that people gain better insight and understanding into other people's perspectives, which fits in perfectly with the aim of making organisations more inclusive. And that just doesn't happen by itself.

Download the key findings
PwC’s 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey

Download as PDF

Contact us

Bastiaan Starink

Bastiaan Starink

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)65 375 58 28

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