Annual Report Works Council Netherlands – How to Design and Write the Report.

In the Netherlands the Works Council [ondernemingraad, OR] is an internal body representing employees, promoting and protecting the interest of the employees. The Works Council has consultation rights in respect of certain significant proposed management decisions. Furthermore, the Works Council is also required to perform recurring tasks, such as drawing up and publishing an Annual Report. The publishing of an Annual Report is mandatory by law (Works Councils Act, Art. 14, paragraph 2h).

The Works Council is accountable for providing insights and overviews of the activities in the Annual Report of the past year. The secretary of the Works Council usually writes the report, which does not mean that the secretary is the only one to provide input. Works Council members will have to give input, feedback and submit relevant documents.

The Annual Report is a great way to communicate with employees as it could increase the interest of employees and engagement with the Works Council. Therefore, it is essential to make the report appealing and informative. In this article, we will share how to choose the right setup for the Annual Report, the steps to design the report, and helpful tips along the way.

What Is Included in the Annual Report?

The Annual Report is an official document that is part of the Works Council’s reporting. While the specific details vary from one Works Council to the next, there are a few crucial elements that are common across all Annual Reports:

1. Message from the Chair of the Works Council
Direct the readers’ attention to exciting parts of the report, and deliver as Chair of the Works Council an inspirational message.

2. Works Council – Ways of Working
Include in this section of the Annual Report information about:

  • Objective and mission of the Works Council.
  • Composition of the Works Council: include the names of the Works Council members, roles and responsible key topics per member.
  • Focus points/objectives of the Works Council for the respective year.
  • Elections: explain the process, timeline and results in case elections took place during the year.
  • Works Council meetings: explain the purpose, recurrence and topics discussed during these meetings.
  • Works Council-Entrepreneur meetings: explain the purpose, recurrence and agenda topics.
  • Covenant and Annual Calendar: provide the list of agenda topics agreed with the Director.
  • Communication with employees: highlight the communication strategy of the Works Council.

3. Summary of Year YYYY in numbers
Make use of infographics to include the relevant details in numbers (#) for the respective year.

  • #of Works Council members
  • #of Works Council meetings
  • #of Works Council-Entrepeneur meetings
  • #of Formal Requests for Advice
  • #of Formal Requests for Approval/Consent
  • #of Open/Pending Formal Requests

4. Special Mentions/Highlights

  • Highlight important or significant formal requests in more detail: share the impact on employees and the role of the Works Council in these consultation processes.
  • Third party advisors: include the third party advisor(s) the Works Council consulted and for which subjects.

5. Financial Statement
Give a transparent disclosure of all costs of the respective year.

6. Looking Ahead

  • Focus on the future: include upcoming changes, objectives, and vision for the coming year.
  • Call to Action: provide a soft ask about how the Works Council can improve their communication and mission.


In summary, keep it simple!
There are so many good reasons to keep the Annual Report short and simple. It’s easier to focus energy on getting fewer things covered — but covered with excellence — than to cover every little detail. The employees and management are more likely to read a short report carefully, and to remember what they read than a long lengthy report.


How to Design a Great Annual Report

1.Decide on the Key Message
The most important part of the planning and writing process of your annual report is to decide on a key message. The first part of the report will provide the vision, goals and objectives for the past year. The second part of the report is a great opportunity to highlight the Works Council’s achievements and the impact those achievements have had on employees and the organisation.

2.Use Graphs and Infographics
The Annual Report will contain a lot of detail and data. Make sure that data is easier to understand by using graphs. This includes infographics, timelines, illustrations, and other elements. Make sure the graphics and charts got a consistent design that uses the company brand’s colours and the logo of the Works Council.

3. Include Photos
Aside from graphics and illustrations, the annual report should also include photos. This will add a human touch to the Works Council as a brand and makes the Annual Report more personable.

4. Include an Annual Report Cover
The cover of the annual report is just as important as the rest of the content. Make use of photos and experiment with shapes or colour overlays to make an eye-catching cover design. Use the cover design as an opportunity to give employees and management the first glimpse into what they can expect when they read the Annual Report.

5. Use Icons 
Consider using icons paired with a heading to highlight different sections of the Annual Report. Use them throughout the report along with graphics and other infographic elements to make the information easier to understand.

6. Include proofreading
Once the report is written and designed the next steps is to proofread everything. Consider asking several of the Works Council members to go over the report to double and triple-check for grammar mistakes.

7. Use the best communication channel
Think and choose how the report can be made available: as a digital report with a message / email with links to (parts of) the report, a summary flyer, poster or other.


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