The rise of the zzp'er (self-employed professional) in the Dutch construction industry

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55% of all carpenters are self-employed (zzp’er), 37% of plasterers and wall-/floor finishers is zzp’er, and 28% of the bricklayers and interpolators is zzp’er. Of all the work in the construction sector, zzp’ers now do 15%. Is there something special about these people or the construction industry and where do these characteristics originate in? In this paper we will show a zzp’er is a hard working professional with a lower to secondary education, having an average age of 44: he is a former employee and has a desire to run his own small business. He wants to take his own decisions en he is proud of his craftsmanship. But, he lacks recognition of human needs in construction companies. We will show you main differences in needs and thinking between zzp’ers and the construction companies. Zzp’ers look for freedom, autonomy, respect, and recognition. They are anti hierarchical, and prefer integration of thinking and doing, and collaboration based on friendship. Construction companies want to be in control, there structure is pyramidal, and the way they organize is based on a strict separation of thinking and doing; collaboration is forced. We think that (major) construction companies should ask themselves whether they want to continue their present policy with more all round professionals leaving or retain their people for which investments in a better place to work are required.


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