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in the development of better social, employment and
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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case NL-2020-40/1545 – measures in Netherlands

Free coaching and advice from the Entrepreneurship Sounding Board Foundation

Gratis Coaching en advies Stichting Ondernemersklankbord

Country Netherlands , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 October 2020
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Supporting businesses to get back to normal
– Enhancing employability and training
Author Amber van der Graaf (Panteia) and Eurofound
Case created 02 December 2020 (updated 05 December 2020)

Background information

In the Netherlands, the government and social partner support for facilitating work during the COVID-19 crisis take the shape of national measures as well as many guidelines, manuals, and tips and tricks for employers, workers and solo self-employed. Enterprises and employers are free to implement whatever practices they deem fit as long as they remain within relevant legislation.

An example of a more concrete practice initiated by the government and social partners is the opportunity for free coaching and advice from the Entrepreneurship Sounding Board Foundation (“stichting Ondernemersklankbord” or OKB).

Usually this organisation charges a fee for advice and guidance to entrepreneurs, but in the context of the COVID-19 crisis this organisation offers its services for free. The support is reserved for entrepreneurs who are especially affected by the COVID-19 crisis though the criteria which an entrepreneur must meet to be allowed to follow the programme is not immediately clear. The government indicates that entrepreneurs should first consult the Chambers of Commerce for help or information and if they are in need of further support, to register with the OKB for further coaching and advice.

Content of measure

The OKB is a national network with some 300 advisors with entrepreneurial experience. The organisation targets SMEs and offers them support and advice on whatever issue or question an entrepreneur may regarding their business. The OKB emphasises a personal approach, where the entrepreneur is guided through the support programme, referred to as a soundboard trajectory (“klankbordtraject”).

Advisory trajectories involve the personally tailored support from ex-entrepreneurs, individuals with entrepreneurial experience or who are experts in their areas. They offer support to an entrepreneur for a period of up to 6 months. The OKB also provides extra education and training where relevant, information and knowledge exchange. The OKB has 17 regions and regional organisations in the Netherlands, allowing advisors to offer regionally relevant support to entrepreneurs; these regional advisors and experts are coordinated from a central office in The Hague. The OKB requests a donation of €200 for each advisory trajectory in principle but is waiving this fee in lieu of the COVID-19 crisis.

Use of measure

In terms of effectiveness, the OKB overall indicates that it has been active for some 40 years and hosts around 3,000 advisory trajectories per year. Of the participants, 85% of entrepreneurs indicated they are very satisfied with the OKB and the OKB contributes to preventing approximately 66% bankruptcies a year. Information on the use of this measure during the COVID-19 crisis is not yet known, however.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Other social actors (e.g. NGOs)
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: N/A

Involvement

The overall approach taken throughout the Dutch public response to the COVID-19 measure has been to include peak level social partners throughout the policy making process. In the case of some measures, sectoral, professional or regional social partners may be involved with the implementation as well. This is the case with this measure as the OKB is a non-for profit organisation which agrees to provide free services to entrepreneurs in dire need. The OKB support is an officially recommended step to take for entrepreneurs, promoted by the government. Therefore though the exact nature of the social partner involvement is not fully clear, social partners are involved in the implementation and the provision of the actual support.

Views and reactions

The overall approach taken throughout the Dutch public response to the COVID-19 measure has been to include peak level social partners throughout the policy making process. The peak level social partners all agree that there is a need for support to workers and employers which go beyond financial support, but which also help entrepreneurs to help themselves (through guidance for instance), and by offering re-education, reskilling and promote a more mobile labour force. This current practice appears one of several extensions of this policy rationale. That being said the precise involvement of peak level social partners in the involved of this particular measure is not clear.

Sources

Citation

Eurofound (2020), Free coaching and advice from the Entrepreneurship Sounding Board Foundation, case NL-2020-40/1545 (measures in Netherlands), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.