Having grown up with parents bitten by the nomad lifestyle bug I have moved. Many times. To many countries and have experienced many things as a result.
Moving to a new country is upheaval AND an adventure at the same time.
Our family moves created a very tight bond between us in the family. Each time we moved we left everything and everyone behind. All we had was each other. It created a really close relationship and we loved exploring our new house, area and country together.
There are times in a child’s life that it’s easier to move and changing school and language can be hard at the “wrong age”.
We didn’t have hardship moves. My father’s employers always took excellent care of us even though not each move was about yachts and private jets (as you can read more about here).
That set aside, my father’s employers always took amazing care of us and as a family we got really close. When moving to a new location a few things happen;
- We were time wealthy and since no one has any friends yet family is what we have. We tended to spend a lot more time together and the family ties became very tight.
- Exploring, getting to know a new city or area was a lovely adventure and we enjoyed doing that together.
- Sometimes a new language was part of the learning process. I spent my first year in school in Switzerland, only to be put back to kindergarten upon return to Sweden since we have a late start for school. The school puzzle for children is an important part when moving around.
- Housing… housing… housing
- Practical things that need to be solved.
When recruiting foreign talent there’s a lot that can be done both on a shoestring budget and a generous relocation program.
Immigration do it right and do it for everyone in the family
Firstly, no foreign talent should have to worry about the legal status from an immigration perspective. Limiting concerns on the validity of their permits and keeping the family together is basic caste for employees. We help companies safeguard this for their employees from beginning to end in order to avoid evictions (kompetensutvisning) and to miss out on one of the important requirements. It certainly easy to lose track of insurances, etc. when it takes up to 18 weeks to get a Swedish Personal Number then overlooking something way later can happen. Our entire job is to make sure our clients are here safely both in the short and the long-term.
Put in an effort to handhold family or find ways to provide it through others
Secondly, be generous with family members. It means the world to your talent that will pour all her/his energy into work. If the family gets permits and support that will make the entire experience for all more pleasurable. It can be lonely to move with a spouse so allow your relocation agency to have more handson time with them to set them up with some local contacts and friends. Also, if you or the relocation agency can help them with all practical matters then the start of the move can be a smooth one that allows them to explore the nice things about the new location rather than spending hours on the phone chasing the tax authority for answers on when their personal number will arrive or walking around trying to find a bank that will allow them to open a bank account.
Sweden is fantastic - go out of your way to show the possibilities
Thirdly, we have a destination and country to be proud of. A vast majority of our clients are looking forward to experiencing the closeness t onature that we have so easily accessible. To get a guide with all the fun activities that will spice up weekends for the entire family is worth it’s weight in gold! To find the hidden gems tha aren’t listed in the touristbrochures will enhance the experience.
Housing is a challenge
Fourthly, help your new talents with housing. It’s a really tough market and lamost impossible to navigate through. If your company isn’t signing the lease on their behalf then a double program may be needed to find the needle in a haystack. Most landlord choose tenants, and that hasn’t changed during the pandemic to any significant degree, so corporate leases are preferred.
Not having corporate leases is for many companies a business decision while for the person that moves it becomes very personal.
One of our clients, years ago but with the same housing market conditions, didn’t sign the lease on the employees behalf. Although we had double supplier time to help it turned into great dissent within the moving family. The trailing spouse didn’t see the point of moving to a new country with a company that didn’t perceive the talent valuable enough to sign a corporate lease on their behalf. Why leave everything behind when the talent obviously wasn’t considered very important and they didn’t go out of their way to help…? Divorce was threathened and the whole 2-year stay in Sweden was less than great.
A signature may have changed the outcome and given the company and the talent a better start and stay in Stockholm. Some would argue that this had nothing to do with the corporate lease not being offered, but it was the story at the time.
Moving to a new country is upheaval AND an adventure at the same time. Solve the upheaval portions and cultivate the adventure part and you will have a happy, grateful ex-pat and family! Not worrying about schooling is important to get both children and parents calm and comfortable. This may mean starting early to apply for schools and also contributing to the tuition at least for a year or two.
Create exceptions in the administrative system to offset the lengthy procedures at the Tax Authority
The Swedish Tax authority has in recent years increased the local registration procedures to result in a SwedishPersonal number for 5 days to an expected 16-18 weeks. Politicians may call it proemblematic and that is true. For the individual and the employer it causes a great deal of problems and the word unacceptable time lines is closer to the wording still used by polite company.
Some companies have challenges paying salaries without this important number while others are unable to get their insurance company setup to help out so the important immigration protocol can be followed. This is hard work to make somewhat work and a few hours per week in the long phone line at the Tax Authority typically require two phones and a great deal of patience. Being able to explain this to the new co-worker will also fall on Global Mobility experts and even when armed with a great deal of knowledge and comparable data from other countries it’s little comfort for the new employee.
Most of all be there and take time to talk, answer questions, and co-celebrate their journey to become happy Swedes and to embrace our lifestyle, culture and to make full use of the incredible nature that we have!