Photo by: Yanan Li / Sourced from https://www.stockholmbusinessregion.com/press/media-bank/
When you are native-born or have lived in Sweden most of your life, it is easy to forget to mention small things that surprise new relocation recruits. Here are 10 insights for Swedish Global Mobility managers to share about Sweden’s unique workplace culture.
1. Flex Time. Explain that most men and women share childcare so there will be times when coworkers will leave early to pick up children, sometimes in the middle of an important meeting. Even though Swedes value a work/life balance, explain that this does not mean that Swedes work less than others. We are super efficient when at the office, and often work from home to make up for flex time. Explain the nuances of your company’s flex time so that your expat has all the tools they need to negotiate and use their flex time appropriately.
2. Swedish Holidays are meant to be celebrated. Discuss the many holidays in Sweden that are unique and encourage your new hire to embrace them. Everyone will celebrate on Midsummer’s Eve, Walpurgis, Crayfish premier, Lucia and the list goes on. Swedes love when expats show an interest in their celebrations.
3. Flat office structure & equality between men and women is common in Sweden. Explain that Sweden is a natural place to get a promotion if you put your best foot forward. The equality between men and women and a flat office structure ensures that most diligent, and smart workers have a great chance to succeed at their new company. This will be a refreshing fact for lots of newbies to Sweden.
4. Learn Swedish. –Explain that learning Swedish will make a difference for their work success, and the happiness of their whole family. All family members should start taking classes and speak at home to practice. Here are 2 places to look for Swedish classes for starters. You may know of some others to suggest.
5. Be punctual. Try to avoid not being late for meetings. Swedes are very precise with time and being late makes a bad impression.
6. Have patience with the process of making friends. Discuss how some Swedes take time to warm up to new people and tend to keep their personal and work life more separate than some other countries. Encourage your expat to join clubs that interest them to make new friends outside the office.
7. Fika Time Is Important. - The famous Fika: Swedes drink a lot of coffee, usually at work. Even in the busiest of offices, have daily Fika gatherings. Explain that some meet religiously twice a day and may eat something with the fika. Others have informal gatherings around the coffee machine for a short chat. It’s an important time in the Swedish workday. In fact, many foreign managers observe that decisions are often made at the coffee break, not in the boardroom.
Photo by Visit Stockholm http://mediabank.visitstockholm.com/
8. Encourage full use of vacation time. Using vacation time fully is expected and is considered to be important in Sweden. The Migration Agency has actually declined extended work visas due to unused vacation time. Tell your expat to request specific dates with a manager well in advance. In the first year it can be hard to navigate around Swedish holidays and understand when it is a good time to be on leave. Your help may be necessary.
9. Give an introduction to your company culture. Every office is different so do not forget to fill them in on as many nuances about your office as possible. If possible, secure your expat a mentor who can help out when they have questions for the first few months.
10. Educate and assist other family members. Tell your expat to help their spouse and other family members get settled too. Have resources to help all of the family members. Inquire as to whether their spouse will need employment assistance, and explain that most households have dual earners. A happy spouse is a happy employee! More info on how to support your new hire’s spouse can be found here in our blog post called Accomodate the Needs of Your New Hire’s Spouse.
If you are planning on sending employees to Sweden, you can learn loads of useful information from our Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden