Jonge Honden (Young Dogs)
a Dutch 'junior consultancy'
2021 – Jonge Honden is a ‘junior consultancy’ in Utrecht, the Netherlands that hires young academics for a maximum period of 7 years (3 years as an employee and 4 years as an entrepreneur). It is a Private Company, ‘BV’ in Dutch. Initially it concerned a “spatial consultancy", but over the years the field has expanded to areas such as sustainability, care, participation, communication, or “social issues". There are currently 35 people, the ‘young dogs’, working for this BV, in salaried employment or as entrepreneurs.
Jonge Honden BV is innovative in its work organisation and in employment relationships.
The purpose and strategy of the company is twofold. Firstly, the BV wants to offer a springboard for enterprising and academically trained starters on the labor market. And secondly, it aims to contribute to the solution of social issues.
The BV is a flat organisation, ‘there are no lease cars, no sales department, no secretariat, no decision tree. Young dogs do everything themselves and together, from office management to recruitment and selection’.
Limited Partnerships (CVs) function within the BV. Employees are employed by a CV and form a “team" with its entrepreneurs.
One of the CV entrepreneurs functions as director of the BV; that is a formally necessary role. The director does formal and administrative work, in addition to her advisory work and she regularly consults with old-young dogs or “watch dogs".
Decisions about the general course of affairs are taken jointly by all employees as much as possible.
The group of former entrepreneurs at Jonge Honden has established a Cooperative Association of ‘Watch Dogs’. The board of this association thinks along with the current young dogs and supervises.
All young dogs start as an employee. They are hired on a temporary contract. If necessary, this contract will be extended three times to a maximum of three years. They have 25 vacation days. They do not accrue pension. After six months of service, their contract is extended by one year. They will then have access to a training budget of 1000 Euro per year. Young dogs can establish a CV during the period that they are employees or at the end of it. As entrepreneurs, they can remain with the BV for a maximum of four years.
All employees perform their work for external clients independently and in a self-directed manner. They are guided and coached by an entrepreneur from their CV.
A typical Young Dog culture has emerged. This is primarily due to the self-chosen appearance: young, dynamic, fresh outlook, critical, social and collegial. The temporary stay also contributes to the desire to learn and develop and to an external orientation. And a third factor is the emphasis on autonomy, self-management and entrepreneurship, which is evident, for example, in the recruitment of “entrepreneurial types".
New colleagues can start immediately with an assignment and are coached by their teammates. In their first year they receive training from the Jonge Honden Academy. The training courses include the “junior journey" and a training in personal leadership.
All employees do acquisitions, but they don’t have an acquisition target. For the execution of a recruited assignment, a joint search is made for the “best match".
All young dogs do not work on their external assignment on Friday, but they spend that day internally on maintaining contact with each other (at ‘het Hok’ or online), distributing new assignments and on necessary consultation, administration, internal training and building a network.
A possible career within Young Dogs is the development from employee to entrepreneur. An employee who wants to take this step draws up a business plan. He or she seeks support and approval among the CV entrepreneurs within the organisation. With sufficient support, the plan comes into effect and the employee becomes an entrepreneur (for a maximum of 4 years at JH).
Due to the constant development of new CVs, the substantive renewal is already ingrained. In addition, all employees can put forward new ideas. A jar has been created, called “Signaling is investing", so that good ideas can be realized. The entrepreneurs pay 50 euros a month per team member into that fund.
The BV has been operating satisfactorily for twenty years. And the market for “social issues" looks good. Moreover, as an organisation, Jonge Honden is very flexible and innovative and knows how to find creative solutions for “social problems". During the corona crisis, for example, they developed a “home working toolkit" and a “digital away days" module.
The employees feel very involved in the organisation.
It is great for employees to work at Jonge Honden. They have varied, meaningful and challenging work that appeals to their talents and also offers development opportunities. Although employees do not have an indefinite contract, they regard this temporary period as a stepping stone to discover where their talents and interests lie and to build a network.
You can start a career right away at Jonge Honden, despite the temporary commitment. This is thanks to training, a training budget, coaching, InterVision and feedback, as well as – if desired – by taking a step to become a freelancer or entrepreneur in a team.
Sarike Verbiest, Wouter van der Torre, Friso Schous, Hardy van de Ven, Dirk Osinga, Simone Koot, Paul Preenen, Katarina Putnik, Anneke Goudswaard: ‘Gebalanceerde flexibiliteit. 10 voorbeelden uit de praktijk’. 2015, TNO, ‘Jonge Honden weten nog niks, maar kunnen alles’. H. 8, pp. 65 – 69.
An extended version of this case description by Fietje Vaas can be downloaded via the button below.