Dutch Quirk #111: Have a lack of hierarchy

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #111: Have a lack of hierarchy

The Netherlands is not the place for hierarchy. It’s where your boss wants to be your BFF, and they’re just another member at the office. 

In most countries, work hierarchy is a huge factor in how you interact at work and treat everybody. Well, not for the Dutchies. 

What is it?

While in some cultures, hierarchy and protocol are essential elements of work. In the Netherlands, traditionally, this is not so important. 

Egalitarianism predominates in most workplaces, and the boss and the employees are considered coworkers.  

READ MORE | 7 ways a Dutch job is different

Everybody is treated like they’re on the same level and gets as much respect and a warm welcome in the morning. 

Elsewhere, the higher you climb the ladder, the more ass kisses you get and the more favours you can get from your colleagues. đź‘€

Why do they do it?

Probably the reason behind this equal system is that it already starts in the first years of school. 

Dutch schools are famous for being freer and allowing kids to question what the teacher says. This is probably the biggest reason why the Dutch later have the guts to challenge or even criticise their boss. 

Some managers, in fact, want you to not just nod and write down whatever they are telling you. They want you to question what they are saying to have a better end result or product.  

office in the netherlands
Who is the boss in the picture? Image: Pixabay

Why is it quirky? 

It may seem strange to you that a Dutch employee can disagree with their boss in a meeting, but it’s easy to get used to. 

Some people may think it’s fake, saying their manager is only pretending not to have power above their employees, but in real life, they do. 

It’s a valid point, but at the end of the day, Dutch bosses are held accountable for their positions and employees are treated with as much respect as their employer counterparts. 

Should you join in? 

Yes! If you can find a Dutch workplace like this, you will love it! 

It is more direct, but, at the same time, you’re treated as an equal rather than as an underling to your boss. Sounds good, right?

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Mihály Droppa
Mihály Droppa
Mihály fell in love with (and in) Amsterdam, so he quit his NGO job in Budapest and moved to Amsterdam to become a journalist. His apartment is full of plants and books, two dogs, and a random mouse in the kitchen. You might find him in Vondelpark, where he spends most of his life throwing tennis balls for his vizslas and listening to podcasts. His nickname is Mex — ask him why!


  1. I am Dutch born and raised. I grew up in this system and was manager like this before I emigrated to the US. Have lead my teams like this in Ohio, California and Texas. People had to get used to it but they became better professionals. Benefits for the manager: knowing people are not nice in your face but talk bad behind your back( some renegades aside). You learn from your team members( novel concept, right) You develop cohesiveness to become stronger.( and I can go on and on. Let me finish by saying as a manager you have obligations if you lead in this way( notice the differentiation I make between managing and leading): you have to be able to be vulnerable, you have to take responsibility for your team to both your higher-ups and your team, you have to be willing to have your teams back when you know the “ attack” from outsiders is false and you have to be willing to teach and lead by example, over and over again. I still are befriended with my former team members, although due to distance mostly by social media


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