Jobs with benefits

Massage in the meeting room?

So last week this random guy I’ve never seen before shows up at the office and, throughout the day, starts approaching people individually to meet with them one-on-one in the back meeting room. I just assumed he was some sort of consultant (and as an American, the idea did cross through my head that he might be a downsizing consultant). 

Curious, I asked my colleague, “Who is that guy?  Why does he keep meeting with everyone in the back room?”  When I didn’t get an answer, I jokingly said, “What, did he just come to give everyone massages?”

Well, it turns out that is exactly what he was there for!  Every two weeks, a professionally trained masseur comes to the office and gives every employee a free, 30-minute massage in a massage chair that he brings along. (No, I’m not making this up. And yes, the massage was great.)

I’ve noticed that Dutch companies tend to be very generous with their employees. A lot of benefits which would be exceptional in the UK or the US are commonplace here. For example, companies will often reimburse their employees for their travel expenses to and from work.  This is done on a sliding scale, depending on the distance you commute to work. So my boyfriend doesn’t pay for his monthly train pass and effectively has no transport expenses.

Help yourself to the office fruit basket

Similarly, companies often subsidize food/lunch for employees.  At my boyfriend’s company, each employee pays in  €40 at the beginning of each month and then has unlimited access to food during working hours – they can eat as much as they want at the canteen each day for lunch, take breakfast at the office if they please, and have drinks, fruits, and snacks available throughout the day. Similarly, at my office, we have the option to pay €2 into the kitty for a communal lunch on Mondays through Thursdays; the departments take turns going down to the supermarket to buy food with the money that has been pooled together.  These systems allow you to eat lunch much more cheaply (and communally) than the “each for his own” lunches I was familiar with in the US and UK.

Dutch employees are also entitled to a legal minimum of 20 days holiday, which is actually quite stingy by European standards, but on top of that they get “holiday pay,” which means all employees get 8% of their gross annual salary paid out once per year. So not only do you get a holiday, but money to pay for it!


About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.
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