It’s not with just a little bit of pride and awe that I relate that the relocation team at Nimmersion gets a 94% satisfaction rate for their care. The dedication they show the clients is amazing even when Swedish Government Authorities are so slow that the Smooth Landing is anything but smooth.
While the relocation projects that used to be three or so months-long now take 9-10 months. Covid-19 definitely has made travel far more difficult and for some time it was not possible to move to Sweden at all. Yet, those days are over now.
10 months to get settled?
This is unwelcome news for both the employee and the company that is welcoming new talent. A team member that most often is longed for by the Swedish co-workers in need of rare skills. Other companies are just in dire need of another competent hands-on-deck that needs to get up and running.
The long and the short answer is that everything upon arrival takes multiple times longer than 4-5 years ago.
Housing used to be the biggest obstacle when moving to Sweden and while not easy, there are other factors that play a bigger role in the lengthy settling in processes.
Sweden is a very chronologically based society. You can’t do multiple things at the same time. Each step must be completed in full before the next step forward is possible.
Firstly, for VISA-free nationals, it’s been possible to arrive in Sweden and give the biometrics here in order to get the residence cards. Thus, shaving off time in the process of doing it in the home country and waiting for the diplomatic post with the needed card. However, the waiting lines at the Swedish Migration Agency are so long that I would be wealthy if I had a penny for each time I had gotten the question “Is something wrong with the booking site”.
Secondly, the tax agency that used to locally register foreign arrivals (of course only after they could provide the residence cards) in 5 days or it was considered slow now tells each person that comes to register that it can take 18 weeks.
To add insult to injury this is after the seven days of self-isolation… so you’re looking at 19 weeks.
Also, the time slots aren’t readily available. The situation is getting worse and worse by the week. In early January the message was to expect 11 weeks and in early March the expected timelines are 18 weeks.
Can it be so?
The explanation given is that they are understaffed and not digitized so working from home during the pandemic is not helping matters. The government also recently said that everyone in the government sector should work from home until May 30th. We can expect this situation to continue in other words.
Only after the Swedish Personal Number is issued can a national ID card be issued. Great news to get to that step because guess what, that is needed for the bank account to be full service.
So what are we doing about this?
Nimmersion relocation consultants tirelessly spend hours every week calling the tax authority to get answers on timelines and whether a case officer has been assigned. We work around the clock to find workarounds and do, for a majority of things. Yet, coming to a country and not being able to fully register for close to six months is not a good start.
The relocation consultants are masters at finding options, being there for the clients, lending a listening ear, and extending a helping hand. However, not being able to offer complete and solid solutions doesn’t work well with their high level of service. In spite of these obstacles, they are so appreciated by the clients.
These very long assignments create a reason to be in constant contact with the clients. Therefore, they really get to know their clients well and have the opportunity to provide more support and value. We see that companies help their employees by boosting up the relocation programs in order to support the employees through this difficult time.
I don’t think we knew how lucky we were to have smooth processes with the administration a few years back. Now what has always been the hardest part of the relocation, the dreaded Swedish housing market, is the least stressful part.
Having assignments that are three times as long has both pros and cons.
The talent gets more support and opportunities to talk to an expert. When #WFH Work from home is common, it's harder to get to know colleagues. The relocation consultant is their closest ally in the beginning.
They get a softer landing due to more relocation support
New employees struggle with practical matters for a very long time and it’s hard to feel fully part of a country where you can’t carry your administration
They don’t feel confident in the Swedish public administration due to the failure of prompt action and the lack of flexibility in the processes
Simply put. It’s not a good start. Good News is that the relocation consultants carry on and support the new employees with a great deal of care in spite of the obstacles that are out of their control.
But what are you really doing about this?
We are in contact with the various authorities. Trying to get correct data on the actual timeline. Finding a person at the tax authority that will provide real statistics and be open to finding solutions. This is also an educational opportunity since the Tax Authority officers don’t know what happens outside their realm of influence. They understand that that living in Sweden without a Personal Number is cumbersome, but they don’t know where the cutoff date is for a person to risk eviction and they seem unaware of the consequences for the individual.
It’s good to having patience when working with authorities that are innately slower than entrepreneurs and rightfully so. Turning a tanker around is far slower than a dingy, yet it’s so important that we can trust our authorities to care for the individual, that means placing priorities on the different types of applications.
We do have a great example in the Swedish Migration Agency that did a LEAN project a number of years ago. Their digitization is constant and they roll out new and improved processes several times per year. They also have excellent case officers that have been there for some time and know their job well.
Relocation companies are used to obstacles and know how to work around them. Lengthy processing times, though are hard to conquer since it’s out of our control. We can only reduce the number of disturbances on the way.
Not only the Swedish Tax Agency suffers from inadequacies during the pandemic & we have written a Guide on How to Lead Through Transformation that you can order here.