The power of the Friday afternoon borrel
Let me introduce you to some Dutch company culture. Compared to many other countries, Dutch companies are especially known for their successfully conducted balancing act between serious professional business life and an almost familial company culture.
“In the Netherlands
employees are not only staff members.”
They are individuals with families, a big social network outside work life and a lot of bits and pieces that colleagues know about. Next to work there is a huge part in their lives that has nothing to do with the job, but is influencing the day-to-day life and often enough the work routines as well. Similar as known from the Scandinavian countries also in the Netherlands all tasks around the management of a young family are highly appreciated, accepted and understood. Employees get a lot of freedom in organizing their workload around fixed times at which children have to be picked up from school or kindergarten for example. Also the care for the older generation is getting a more and more important role nowadays. A higher flexibility in working times and work location is granted in order to make sure that employees are able to combine work with family life in the best way possible. This sounds great, but often enough it leads to difficulties and defiles whatsoever. A lot of sympathy of colleagues is needed, especially of those who are not in the same situation yet and are present at work any time during the day.
“Company Culture is a crucial thing
in order to make a company successful.”
Company Culture influences talent acquisition, employee performance as well as retention as we know. There is one thing in Dutch working life which contributes tremendously to a positive atmosphere among the teams: It’s called ‘borrel’. In English we would translate it to ‘having some drinks together’ most probably. You’ll find the habit of the Friday afternoon borrel in a lot of Dutch companies. No matter how stressful, successful, disappointing or crazy the week has been – it needs to be finished properly with a borrel. For many people it is one of the appointments of the week which can barely be missed. Don’t get me wrong – it is not about drinking mainly – it’s rather about spending time together, talking with colleagues about other topics than work, getting to know each other, spending time together in a relaxed and positive atmosphere and much more. Of course discussions about sports or politics, funny family stories or problems are part of the deal as well. The more people feel home in a company and among their colleagues the more open they become which contributes to a higher dedication to the company and the team in the end. So a simple thing as a Friday afternoon borrel is not only an hour of having a drink together. It is much more. It’s a highly influencing part of company culture and an instrument for team satisfaction and retention. It helps making a company a beloved place to work and a team becoming a bunch of friends. It makes people understand and advocate for each other, especially when times are rough for one or the other. It helps making successes even a bit more special when they are announced in front of everyone at the borrel.
By the way, this is not a call for more drinking at work! This is a call for creating repeated positive occasions for a team. It doesn’t always need to be a big thing. Spending time together in a positive atmosphere does a lot to people. It’s the same effect people have with their families at home.
So make your company a great place to work. Create a positive atmosphere.
The little things count!