Works Council training stopped being training years ago. At least, it is not training in the same way that you receive training or are trained in many other areas. Works Councils are not (or no longer) trained in how to be a ‘good Works Council’. What we call Works Council training nowadays is actually much more discovering what you want to achieve.
We still frequently get requests for ‘Works Council work training’. This description might (or could) suggest that there is (only) one standard way of working for all the Works Councils in the Netherlands. Or at least it suggests that there is a ‘best’ or ‘correct’ way a Works Council should operate. However, there is no such way.
there is no ‘best’ Works Council
Sure, Works Council members need knowledge and expertise to perform the Works Council work. For example, they need knowledge of the Works Council Act (WCA). Or communication skills. But after you have been given that knowledge and expertise, that still does not make you a ‘good Works Council’. If only because ‘a good Works Council’ simply does not exist. You need more; you need each other. And that is something you can learn.
learning to be a Works Council
You have already learned most of the skills you need as an individual Works Council member. Skills such as how to conduct a meeting, how to vote, reading documents and communicating. A long time ago, these were subjects that were discussed and taught during Works Council training sessions. This is no longer necessary, because you already know how to do many of those things.
What is important now is collaborating and making joint decisions as a Works Council. And that is something you will have to learn. After all, a Works Council is not just any team (Dutch). A Works Council is nothing like the other teams you’ve ever worked in or collaborated with. If only because no one is in charge and all decisions are made jointly, as a group.
the Works Council as an independent supervisor
Your organisation’s Works Council (or that of any organisation in the Netherlands) is an independent supervisory body. Almost in the same way as the Supervisory Board (Dutch: Raad van Commissarissen) supervises the operations and decisions of the company’s management.
As a Works Council, you must be able to independently give your advice (Dutch) or consent to the decisions of the management. And when formulating your response, answer the question of whether you feel that it is ‘good for the company as a whole’. You must determine whether the proposed decision of the management will be a good decision for the organisation and the employees.
So, as a Works Council, you have to decide how you want to (organise your) work, how you want to do business, what you think is important, etc. to be and remain independent.
the Works Council as an elected group of employees
As a Works Council, you are a group of employees who have been chosen by the other employees to best serve their interests and those of the organisation. You supervise the decisions that the management wants to implement.
But that also means that, as a Works Council member, you suddenly have totally different responsibilities than ‘regular’ employees. And you are required to think about the organisation at the level of the management and/or management team, deciding what is best for the organisation.
In addition, as a group of employees, you are ‘put together’ (through elections) and that makes you ‘the Works Council’.
discover: who are you as Works Council?
When drafting the Works Council Act (WCA) the legislators was very aware of the fact that Works Council members cannot suddenly know or do everything. And that the Works Council is initially a group of random employees, who have not worked together or made decisions in that formation before. That is why the WCA states that you can get ‘education and training‘ and use ‘external experts’ to help you.
The Works Council has no ‘boss’, and is basically an independent group. This means that you have many responsibilities, but you must also learn to trust each other and learn how to divide the tasks and work together.
each Works Council is different and must ‘invent itself’
Every organisation in the Netherlands with more than 50 employees must have a Works Council. There are many different types of organisations and (as a result) also many different ways in which Works Councils provide content for their Works Council work. Each Works Council must decide that for itself.
If you trust the management and you only want to know what it does and say something about that, that would make you a reactive Works Council.
If you want to provide input to the management before it starts working on developing the (intended) decisions, and if you want to properly prepare yourself for what lies ahead, that would make you a proactive Works Council (Dutch).
There are also many intermediate forms of the Works Council work. None of these are wrong. As long as the form suits your organisational culture and your colleagues.
what does a Works Council trainer do?
Explained in simple terms: as a Works Council trainer (I prefer to call myself Works Council coach, facilitator or advisor) I make sure you, as a Works Council, know what you want to do and how you want to do it. But above all, as a Works Council, you know how you want to work together.
By telling you what is (legally) allowed and what your responsibilities are, I teach you to be independent. On top of that, I teach you to think independently and to learn to discover together what you as Works Council members see as your mission. In other words, I teach you and help you with all the processes and support you need, so the Works Council can get to work on the content of the topics.
a Works Council off-site team day?
During a meeting with all Works Council members (we prefer to call these off-site team days), you jointly determine the goals of the Works Council and how the Works Council wants to achieve them. And if the Works Council has already been around for a while: how is the cooperation (Dutch) going, to achieve the goals? Do you need to change things, or organise things differently? That is something we can work on.
During the off-site team days, you will see where you are, where you come from and where you are going. And together, we determine whether that is still what you want as a team.
This is about exchanging opinions, merging information and knowledge, getting to know each other and trusting your fellow Works Council members. In fact, all things that you can’t really achieve during in digital meetings.
knowledge as a means, cooperating as a goal
In other words, by providing you with different ways of gaining knowledge, I teach you, as a Works Council, to cooperate as best as you can. You will learn a way of working that suits you (all), where you are going to have fun because you notice that your performance as a Works Council matters.
We, my colleagues and I at CT², always provide tailor-made solutions. We have no ‘one size fits all’ programmes ready. First, we conduct an interview, documenting your needs and desires, and then we will organise a meeting where you will learn to work together and achieve your goals.
What is often called ‘Works Council training’ is nothing like all the types of training you have ever had. It is not really training at all.
Works Council work is not something you can learn ‘just like that’. It can take years to become a true Works Council professional. We want to help you achieve that. In a way that suits you and that you agree with.
Note: Please note that we are a Dutch organisation and that all our information is originally composed in Dutch. For the benefit of our English-speaking customers we have translated some of our online information. We are still in the process of translating even more of our information. It could therefore be that you will come across Dutch pages on CT2.nl. Please contact us if you would like more information.