Photographer: Anne Sofie Eriksson / http://mediabank.visitstockholm.com
Vacation and relocation are like cream and lemons, they simply don’t mix well, not for anyone involved at least. Although it does make for a nice rhyme in a song. So, here we go again - HR and Global Mobility teams are soon officially on vacation in Sweden and the transferees moving here are in the beginning or middle of their relocation activities. Everyone wants to be up and running in mid-August to early September.
I’d like to share some background on how Northern Europeans handle summer, and some ways you can keep your new hire’s relocation moving along swiftly and effectively during this season when many are on holiday.
Facts You Should Know: How Sweden and Northern European Countries and Companies Function During the Summer
- Based on the farming society, there is a lot of downtime at schools and work in the summer. It is the time for the harvest and, historically, all hands on deck were essential.
- Due to the location and the short summers, labor law also stipulates the right to long and uninterrupted vacations in the summer to get enough Vitamin D to withstand the winters.
- The same labor law entitles all employees to a minimum of 5 weeks vacation in addition to Bank Holidays. Working on limited staff is common not just in the summer.
- Our counterparts are often from the UK and the US where the work rhythm is consistent throughout the year and empty offices are unheard of.
- Swedish Authorities survive on skeleton crews in the summer. Some government agencies come close to a standstill. Setting up appointments for local registration can be difficult as the time slots are few. It will also take a very long time before a Swedish Personal Number is granted - this summer 2019 - up to 12 weeks, and even then there are individual delays.
- In a landlord driven market, landlords set the terms. They do this year round, but when the sun is out it’s more markedly so. A rainy summer is much better, from our work perspective, as Swedes don’t waste precious vacation days on rainy days and landlords become more available. They are keen to wrap things up and go back to the beach. Lengthy discussions that some legal teams love to have is risky business. A more straightforward process, which is faster, will be favored by landlords.
- Some companies close down completely, which seems like a dream; however, relocation never sleeps and not having a counterpart for leases and employment contracts that need to be updated for local registrations can severely impact the employee’s wellbeing.
Best Practices For Welcoming New Hires to Sweden During the Summer.
- During the summer months, plan for cover and have someone with in-depth know-how at least on call in case of more complex questions or lease signing throughout the period. Update necessary Power Of Attorneys and provide the employees moving with all the paperwork they need apart from the relocation policy before leaving on holiday.
- OUT OF OFFICE - we get a lot of OOOs in July and August. The best practice is of course to have a back up listed in the reply so we know who to contact instead. End date in the OOO is also helpful to know whether looking for the cover is needed or if it can wait a day or two.
- Have a plan for payments. This is especially important for companies that shut down for four weeks (I know, readers from other countries, it still happens in Sweden, I was surprised at this in 1991, living here you get used to it…). This lovely situation is of little interest to those expecting payment. and Rents are due even during the summer, so either engage the relocation company and pre-fund them or have someone in-house with authority to set up payments even during the closure.
- Some companies, mostly in the US require the forms W8s and W9s to be filled in by landlords to pay rent and the first month’s deposit. Many landlords decline and the tenants risk losing the property unless a Plan B is implemented. US companies have an especially difficult situation here since American nationals may not open a local bank account until they have gone through many necessary steps on the way which take many months. This can be expected and planned for.
- Provide Power of Attorneys to cover for simple tasks such as lease signing, updating employment contracts, and make sure they are able to retrieve necessary insurance information requested by the Migration agency.
- Make sure your employees are able to get their payslips for the full year in case there is a question from the migration agency. Or, see that the backup person knows how to do it. We all love technology, however, with GDPR and privacy, things can get really complicated and employees are unable to get what they need due to security clearance not being available.
Plan B often turns into Plan A in the summers and to have a list of possible outcomes clearly mapped out is incredibly helpful, and adds to the welcome of new transfers. Many Swedish companies have the work life balance as a selling point when recruiting and this is the time to prove that it can be done while still having smooth operations. Nimmersion also offers a Cultural readiness program which can ease the transition and prepare the newbies for Sweden regardless of the season.
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.