Developer Happiness Index The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a popular destination for tech talent in Europe, thanks to competitive Dutch salaries, the attractive work-life balance, progressive politics and the advanced digital economy. As of 2019, there were 320,900 professional developers working in the Netherlands. A recent report released by Startup Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Economic Board found that there were 26 job vacancies per available tech worker. According to CBS.nl, there were approximately 12,300 unfilled vacancies in 2017, with projections of the skill shortage in the EU reaching 700,000 by 2030.
Developers are a mobile group, with many options for jobs in various geographical locations, so keeping a keen eye on the factors which influence developer happiness can help countries and companies stay competitive.
Developer Happiness Index 2021
This year we released Honeypot’s first Developer Happiness Index (DHI) which aims to provide insights into happiness for developers throughout the world. For the purpose of the index, we grouped happiness into four major factors: career, quality of life, social freedom and community, each composed of five indicators.
In an online survey, we asked 4,000 developers around the world to self-evaluate the importance of each indicator and their satisfaction with it. Approximately 300 of those developers are based in the Netherlands. The importance scale allows us to see how an indicator influences a developer’s happiness. The satisfaction scale judges how fulfilled they are by the indicator. We calculated each respondent’s happiness by weighting the indicators by importance and then multiplying the importance weight by satisfaction associated with this indicator. The sum equals happiness.
For the purpose of this report, we will explore the answers of respondents located in the Netherlands and will zoom in on career happiness in particular.
Developers in the Netherlands are generally a happy group
Developers living in the Netherlands are very happy. According to our survey, the average developer happiness is 61/100 — respondents from the Netherlands placed six points higher, ranking in the top three out of all countries surveyed. This is ahead of Germany and even Sweden.
On the whole, developers living and working in the Netherlands are more satisfied across all indicators of happiness compared to the world average. Notably, they are most satisfied with their work-life balance, safety, religious freedoms, transportation, and healthcare. The biggest point difference is with transportation, 19 points higher than the average. Satisfaction falls below the world average when it comes to climate and cost of living.
Female developers in the Netherlands are happier than male developers
When looking at the global average, female developers tend to be happier than male developers — and the Netherlands is no exception. Female developers in the Netherlands are happier than their male colleagues and they are also happier than female developers on average globally.
As developers in the Netherlands get older they become less happy.
As developers in the Netherlands age, they become less happy. This is similar to the pattern we saw in global numbers, in the main Developer Happiness Index. In the range of 18 to 24, developers self evaluate their happiness at 84 points out of 100. By 45, it's 10 points less, down to 75.
Developer Career Happiness in the Netherlands
While the Developer Happiness Index covers four main categories of happiness, the focus of this report is on career. Career happiness is measured by five indicators: salary, learning opportunities, work-life balance, work environment and company culture, and tech stack.
40% of Dutch developers are very happy with their career
Overall, 40% of Dutch developers are very happy with their career and 80% are somewhat happy. Again, female developers are much happier than male developers.
48% of female developers described themselves as very happy with their career, compared to 39% of male developers, though when adding together very and somewhat happy, the genders converge again.
Work-life balance is the most important indicator for developers in the Netherlands followed by work environment and company culture.
Developers in the Netherlands are generally more satisfied with each individual factor than the global average. They generally rank importance of factors similarly to global peers.
Work-life balance for developers in the Netherlands
Work-life balance is the most important factor regulating developer happiness in the Netherlands — and they are very satisfied.
Work-life balance is the most important indicator of career happiness in the Netherlands, followed by work environment, learning, salary and tech stack. 76% of developers in the Netherlands consider this factor very important, just 1 percentage point different to global averages.
Happily, almost half of developers report they are very satisfied with work-life balance, 10 percentage points higher than developers on average globally.
Developers with 15–20 years of experience are the most satisfied with their work-life balance. Over half of junior developers are very satisfied in the Netherlands. And the percentage split between male and female developers in terms of satisfaction is pretty much identical. According to the OECD, only 0.4% of employees in the Netherlands work 50 hours or more a week — the lowest rate in the OECD, where the average is 11%. Generally, people in the Netherlands are quite happy with their working hours, and on the whole, they enjoy a fairly balanced work-day devoting more of their day on average to personal care and leisure.
Over half of the developers working in the Netherlands work between 40–60 hours per week (the majority working >50 hours), which is about average for a developer working in Europe and the United States.
In the Netherlands, vacation policies are generally good. A full-time worker is entitled to 20 days paid vacation (tech companies can offer up to 25+), plus a further nine days of paid public holidays. On a world scale, these vacation policies are quite generous.
Parental leave policies offered in the Netherlands are similar to western neighbours: mothers are entitled to up to 16-weeks paid maternity leave, while fathers can request up to five weeks off, under specific insurance policies.
Northern European countries are the most progressive when it comes to parental leave. In Sweden for example, parents are entitled to 480 days paid leave at 80% of their salaries.
Work Environment and Company Culture for Developers in the Netherlands
Developers in the Netherlands are more satisfied with their work environments and company cultures than the world average
The second most important indicator for career happiness in the Netherlands is work environment and company culture — again similar values to world averages.
31% of developers in the Netherlands are very satisfied with their work environment, six percentage points higher than the average globally.
Male developers in the Netherlands are less satisfied than female developers with company culture
Male developers in the Netherlands are less satisfied with the environment and culture than female developers, (28% versus 39% “very satisfied”). Female developers consider company environment and culture more important than male developers.
Satisfaction with work environment and company culture among developers in the Netherlands decreases with age and experience
Satisfaction with work environment and culture generally decreases with age and experience. Developers with 3-5 years experience are the most satisfied in the Netherlands, which is better than the world average. A sharp increase in dissatisfaction comes at around 18 years of coding experience.
In the Developer Happiness Index, we’ve explored studies linking dissatisfaction with age discrimination, which is particularly rife in tech. Tech professionals experience ageism much earlier than other industries due to the nature of the industry and the ‘young’ and ‘hip’ culture many tech companies adopt when trying to attract skilled technical talent.
To understand how organisations can create more inclusive environments for all their developers, one can look at the major challenges faced in the workplace. Developers in the Netherlands cited understaffing, toxic work environments, and meetings as their biggest challenges.
These major issues raised directly affect how one feels about company culture and the environment they are working in. Understaffing can lead to things like overworking, tension between management and development teams, and increased team stress. Developers often complain that long meetings directly impact their productivity and output.
Similar concerns were raised in our survey when we posed the following question: What else, if anything, contributes to your overall happiness as a developer? From the 2000+ responses, most centered around relationships with teammates and management, recognition and appreciation, autonomy, meaningful work, and the general office environment.
Learning opportunities for developers in the Netherlands
Junior developers in the Netherlands are more satisfied than older colleagues with learning opportunities at work
A lack of learning and growth opportunities is the most common reason developers cite when talking to Talent Reps at Honeypot when switching roles. Developers complain of their job growing stagnant and lacking the challenges needed to keep them engaged and interested.
Compared to the world average, developer satisfaction with learning opportunities in the Netherlands is much higher. Juniors are the most satisfied, while developers with nine to 11 years experience are the least — about one third report being dissatisfied.
Salary for developers in the Netherlands
Developers in Amsterdam earn the most in the Netherlands
The order of importance of career happiness factors is the same in the Netherlands as it is globally. Salary is the only factor which shows a significant deviation from the global average — developers in the Netherlands consider this indicator less important.
A nice salary can only motivate people so far, and for the most part, developers in the Netherlands prefer a comfortable work-life balance and healthy company culture over a higher salary. This also shows to a certain extent that developers don’t feel as though they are grossly underpaid for the work that they are doing — otherwise we would see salary importance ranking much higher as a career happiness indicator.
That being said, salary is still considered somewhat important for 88% of developers working in the Netherlands. On top of that, developers reported salary as being the career indicator they are most dissatisfied with — only 14% of developers in the Netherlands are very satisfied with their salary.
Out of the surveyed individuals, the most satisfied with their salary were junior developers (0–2 years experience), and those under the age of 24. Considering that these are most likely individuals moving into their first full-time developer roles, their salary expectations are probably quite low, accounting for their higher satisfaction.
After two years there is a dramatic dissatisfaction shift amongst developers working in the Netherlands. Dissatisfaction is the highest among developers with three to five years of experience (over 40%), and between developers aged 25 to 34. Salary satisfaction begins to progressively increase for developers with over a decade of experience.
To better understand why more experienced developers are unhappy with their salary, we can look at the average reported salaries according to coding experience. Developers with three to five years of experience are the most unhappy, according to our data — even though they can expect to see their salaries grow by more than 12% every two years. The pay increase is far above average wage growth across all jobs, which currently is projected at 3.3%.
In general, developers in the Netherlands are well paid. The Netherlands ranks in the top ten on a worldscale for developer pay. According to our data, the average salary for a software engineer working in the Netherlands is approximately €44,000. The lowest salaries reported were around €26,000, the highest reaching upwards of €220,000, which reflects technical specialisations and leadership positions.
Average software engineer salaries vary from city to city. According to Glassdoor, salaries in Amsterdam are the highest, while Rotterdam offers the lowest. Cost of living is quite high in Amsterdam though, meaning more monthly expenses comparatively. If you were to factor in annual living expenses (*at face value), you’d potentially earn more in the Hague than Amsterdam.
The actual monetary value of one’s salary might not be the only reason for dissatisfaction amongst developers. Earlier we mentioned the biggest challenges developers face in the workplace and the top issue was understaffing. Understaffing means developers are taking on bigger workloads, more stress, and generally experiencing more pressure at work. Naturally, a developer would expect higher compensation.
On average, male developers earn more than female developers in the Netherlands
When comparing the salaries of male and female developers in the Netherlands, there are some notable differences especially between the experienced developers. It’s important to note that the sample size for male developers is much greater than the sample size for females. The biggest difference in gender salaries is between male and female developers with 9-11 years of experience, with male developers reporting earnings quite a bit higher than their female counterparts.
Female developers in the Netherlands place far more importance on salary than their male counterparts, about 20 percentage points higher, but they are also more satisfied (despite earning less). However, they are less satisfied than the average female developer globally.
Tech Stack for Developers in the Netherlands
Tech Stack is more important for female developers in the Netherlands
Close to ⅓ of developers in the Netherlands consider tech stack to be very important to their career happiness, with a further 53% considering it somewhat important. Female developers tend to consider tech stack more important than their male colleagues and are more satisfied with stack they work with. Additionally, female developers in the Netherland consider themselves more satisfied (five percentage points higher) than the average female developer globally.
Senior developers in the Netherlands experience less satisfaction with their tech stack than the world average. Almost a third of senior developers consider themselves unsatisfied in the Netherlands, while only 6% of junior developers report any dissatisfaction.
Developers in the Netherlands considering two jobs side-by-side with the same compensation, benefits, and location, rank tech stack as the second most important decision factor. Interestingly, ‘flexible schedule’ doesn’t rank as highly when compared to other countries, indicating higher satisfaction. So while an organisation’s tech stack might not be the most important factor when it comes to retaining talent, it is certainly a big player when it comes to attracting skilled talent.
So how happy are developers working in the Netherlands?
Developers have been clear about what makes them happy at work, and it isn’t necessarily extrinsic factors like salary. In their own words, a healthy work-life balance, the ability to engage in continuous learning and career growth, and being a part of a healthy work environment and company culture are most conducive to their overall well-being and happiness.
Companies racking their brains for ways to increase developer happiness in the workplace, need to simplify their strategy — provide opportunities for developers to speak up and listen to their responses. And take happiness seriously; it's not just an ethical imperative, it's an economic one.