As a Global Mobility Manager, there are important things you need to know when sending staff to Sweden. Managerial styles may be a match; however, if work styles differ greatly there could be challenges down the road. Finding a talent that mixes well in their new environment is as essential as the skills you are looking for.
The Essential Things to Know
Four things you will need to understand:
- The way Swedes think about equality between the sexes,
- How they juggle work/life balance,
- Ways of getting ahead in a Swedish flat office structure, and
- The Swedish hierarchical approach when working together.
Once you have a full understanding of Swedish culture and the way Swedes do business, you will be able to make a properly educated decision as to whether your transferee is a good match for the job in Sweden.
While HR obviously takes into account all such things, it is challenging to send valued employees to a small country you may know little about. Being in the know will give you an advantage. We will help you by sharing important inside information about Swedish culture and office etiquette.
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Equality Between Sexes
If you are recruiting staff to Sweden, keep in mind that there is an equality between sexes here. Both women and men work in offices and most women work full time. All nationals, legally and professionally, benefit from the same rights and responsibilities. On a family level, both parents share the childcare and housework.In Sweden. It isn’t surprising to discover fabulous and inexpensive daycare. For these reasons, Sweden is a great place to send women on assignments. They will find themselves safe here, won’t have to worry about childcare, and will not face the kind of prejudice found in many Western countries. At the same time, the Swedish culture is a magnificent destination for men that consider female colleagues their peers.
When recruiting staff to Sweden, it is important to understand how Swedes feel about work-life balance. Life in Sweden isn’t dull and Swedish people maintain a healthy work-life balance. In simple words, we can say that Swedish people love to do their jobs, and do them well. That said, they don’t want to be buried in their work 24/7 and let it take over their personal lives. In Sweden, taking full vacation days is common and regular weekend work is rare. Likewise, there isn’t a lot of overtime, which can be confirmed by the OECD rating for hours worked. Sweden is on the low side of the list.
While it could be a nice idea to send a workaholic to Sweden for rehab, it may also make your transferee uncomfortable to see how Swedish colleagues leave the office early to pick up kids at school or go to the gym. While your transferee may value working around the clock, Swedes view people that work a lot as unorganized and suspect. Swedes are not impressed with workaholics.
So, the bottom line is, when recruiting staff to Sweden, it is not of value to work around the clock. A new employee will be rewarded more for efficiency and competency than working overtime.
Flat Organizational Structure
Sweden is a great place for self-starters and enthusiastic persons who are looking to make a difference. Here there is close access to the top management. Meetings are the place to learn about the organization, and to present ideas. Let your transferee know this fact.
On the other hand, for people who want to be managed closely and need a lot of supervision, Sweden is a harder place to go. They won’t get the support that they want to feel comfortable. This is because Swedish managers prefer self starters who do not need to be micromanaged. If you are transferring a manager to Sweden, it is best that they are comfortable with letting employees have autonomy on the job.
A Hierarchical Approach is Difficult in Sweden
Managers from countries where the boss decides what to share with employees, and the information is passed on to the staff on a need-to-know basis, will probably face resistance in a Swedish organization. The work style is different here.
In a typical Swedish office, the top management puts everyone in the loop when sharing something about the organization. Everyone down to the janitor is informed about everything. A Swede that feels that they don’t get enough internal information and isn’t involved will get frustrated. There are intranets, internal newsletters, all team meetings, and many other ways to share information with people. This can take a bit of getting used to for a foreign manager. The manager used to secrecy will have to change his/her management style in Sweden.
Are you wondering how on earth can you know all these things about a location where you have never been? Even more pressing is the question on how to support the talent that you send to Sweden.
Well in the old days, comprehensive cross-cultural trainings were undertaken before and during the assignment. But many companies stopped doing this for a number of reasons including:
- lack of time
- high cost
- the duration of the assignment didn't warrant the large input required.
Hoping for more tips? Try our blog 5 Tips for Your Expat's Success in Sweden
So, what can be done to avoid having your expat back in your home office prematurely?
Sign up for Professional Inspiration, an online program that aims to help expats before and in their first phase in Sweden to succeed. The program, created by local experts who’ve helped expats for more than 20 years, is packed with videos and worksheets to help expats succeed in Sweden. The better their understanding of how things work, the better they will feel and perform.