When job markets reach a peak, it becomes more and more difficult for companies to retain their employees. They should take the example of professional football teams in the Netherlands, who have been dealing with high turnover rates of their best players for years.


The Dutch labor market is booming. According to Statistics Netherlands (CSB) we´re experiencing the biggest job growth since 2008. That is great news for employees, who, according to PageGroup’s Job Applicant Confidence Index, are much more positive about the job market when compared to the same time last year: 65 percent think the labor market is doing very well, a staggering 15 points higher than in July 2016.

Career perspectives

For employers there is also a downside. It will become harder to keep their best people on board. The latest results of the Confidence Index show that more than 50 percent of employees would like to change jobs for financial or professional reasons: either they don´t see any career progression with their current employer (18 percent), would like to develop new skills ( 24 percent) or want a better salary (9 percent).

Weighing up options

It´s nothing new that employees weigh-up their options when they see more opportunities on the job market. However, if the turnover rate of employees becomes too high, companies have a serious problem on their hands. Why? Because normally it’s the best and most experienced who leave.

What should employers do to retain their most experienced employees? They could do worse than learn something from their local football team. There are few industries where it´s so difficult to retain your best employees – in this case players – than in professional football. How do they deal with this challenge?

1. Look for diamonds in the rough

Small football teams cannot afford to buy big stars, so they buy players who have the potential becoming a star in the future or ones who play at smaller, less well known teams. Unless your company is the Real Madrid or Manchester United of your industry, you probably deal with the same challenge.

Location Labs, a company that makes mobile security software, decided to use the same approach as small teams such as AA Gent, Ajax, FC Porto; they look for diamonds in the rough. “We would much rather hire someone who looks like they have a strong curve, gaining more skill over time”, explains their Chief Operating Officer in Business Insider. “Their skill level today might be lower, but their potential is a rocket ship." And the approach works: the retention rate of the company is as high as 95 percent.

2. Invest heavily in training and education

The philosophy of Dutch football teams has always been to create their own talent pools by investing heavily in the training and education of talented young players. That´s how Ajax recently managed to reach the final of the Europa League. Good employers use the same philosophy.

“Employees now have higher expectations from companies and the spotlight is not only on providing clarity of the job to be done and an appropriate salary but in providing excellent conditions to learn, grow and develop,” explains Esther Roman, HR director with PageGroup. “I first realized the world was changing when I moved to Switzerland to launch the office in Zurich. I was busy recruiting people for my team. When I asked a young candidate the question “what is the one reason why you believe I should hire you?” and the candidate replied “what is the one reason why I should choose you as an employer?”

3. Value older employees

Last season Feyenoord won their first title in more than 15 years. What was the basis of their success? The perfect blend of talented young players and older veterans. A team can only thrive if there is a good mix – the same goes for companies. Not only are older employees more loyal – because they are less focused on a better salary and new career opportunities – they can also serve as mentors of the upcoming generation.


Find out all the results of the Global Job Applicants Confidence Index here


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