Dutch Railway: from train company to people company

2011 – In this article, Harry van der Kraats, HR director talks about the developments at the NS, the Dutch railway company. NS is in a transitional phase, from ‘train company’ to ‘people company’. That matches other modern industrial relations. With the trade unions he agreed upon a collective labour agreement (cao) with items on modernization.

Employment Relations

To the Dutch people NS was known as a company with employees who were eager to strike and with employers and employees who met each other in the battle for the terms of employment. There was a gap between management and staff. That gap has been closed in recent years. Tensions have become much less. Therefore, it is now time for the next step: modern employment relations in which employers and employees stand next to each other and will clash no more. Modern employment relations mean reciprocity. Focus on rights of ánd duties for the employee. An example is that the new way of working requires more self-direction and responsibility of the employees. Of the employer it requires more confidence and control on results. This has an impact on the corporate culture where “doing your best, maybe not good enough." This requires other relations.

Communication to the labour market

The NS is on the verge of an aging of its staff. Therefore NS needs to have an attractive image to attract new employees. And it is important for the communication to the labor market that NS portrays himself as a modern human-oriented company where – as an employee – you can develop your talents broadly. The key is customer focus. Travelling is becoming an experience more and more in which the service by NS can make the difference. Therefore you need a people-oriented organization.


Attached you can find the full article: Van treinbedrijf naar mensbedrijf’ (From train company to human company), 2011, by J. van der Velde, in: Werkgeven, 2011 no. 5 pages 6-9.