Photo by Helén Pe / http://mediabank.visitstockholm.com/
Our best advice, if you are advising new hires on their move to Sweden with their family, is to do your homework. This will be a big move for your expat’s family. Help them to be prepared for possibly the biggest life change they have ever experienced.
Learn as much about your newly recruited talent and their whole family. If they are considering bringing extended family, this post might be informative as it discusses what the term family means to the Swedish Migration Agency.
Help your new family settle in. Guide them to make decisions wisely for the wellbeing of their family. Studies have repeatedly shown that the leading cause of failed talent assignments is the inability of the spouse/partner and other family members to acclimate to their new environment. Family or partner-related trouble is the main reason to return home for a third of the cases in which the employee and the family leave prematurely. We put together a free and convenient course that will help expats assimilate in Sweden. It’s called Professional Inspiration. While this course doesn’t answer company specific things on where to find the coffee, or how the credit card policy works, it will give expats insights to how to act in the Swedish workplace and it can create a great start rather than friction with colleagues and not least things for HR to deal with.
Inform your new hire of everything locally Swedish they need to know including: immigration laws, neighborhoods, taxes, health care, work permits, schools, and more.
Looking at streets and neighborhoods, and reading guidebooks cannot compare to working with local experts who are able to help peel back the layers of the Swedish system and really drill down deep to the details they need to know in order to feel at home. Have a list of vetted mechanics, doctors, dentists, cleaning companies, grocery stores etc. for your new family for their arrival. Spend an afternoon with your new hire’s spouse to show him/her around the city/town and make sure there are no glaring needs that are not being met. Remind your expat to gather the whole family’s medical files in advance. Help them to find equivalent doctors in Sweden.
Explain the need for the school search to begin 6 months in advance.
This means you should hire 6 months in advance, or you may wish to encourage your new hire to apply to schools even if the dotted line isn’t signed. Sometimes, due to a lack of school spots, families opt out of coming at all. Also, there may be a delay or the relocation may need to be divided up so the recruit has to arrive in Sweden long before the family which is very hard for them.
on’tSome of the biggest stressors for your expat family will most certainly be where will my children go to school and will they be happy living in Sweden? Even though 87% of expatriate policies include provisions for education, much of the research is placed on the parents to find the perfect institution to foster their child’s learning. In this post we share tips to help your expat choose the right school for their children. It would be helpful for you could help set up a school application timeline so your new hire’s children can have all the opportunities open to them and not be turned away due to the lateness of an application. Sending in an application to a school (for private ones, not the public schools or daycare) as early as you can is a great way to calm a nervous parent. Even so, it’s not unusual that admissions won’t be able to provide you with a confirmation of a place until after Easter. This is a nervous time for the family and it does put a halt to the relocation activities. Supporting them in this area is great and having a close working relationship with the admissions at the schools is always very helpful.
Help your new family to meet other expat families.
Expats need mentors on both sides of the assignment. It is important that they are properly educated on the country they are going to. They should be informed of the specifics of their new job, as well as what their new lifestyle will be like. This works best when done in advance of the move. We believe that once an expat arrives, they should also have ongoing support to answer any questions they have about office culture, general career advice, and be educated about fun things to do and getting around in Sweden. Ask another employee in your company to be a host family for your new employee. This would give them another family to call to get questions answered that might not feel right being discussed with one’s boss. This greatly helps them to stay positive and informed. If you are a smaller firm, and do not have another appropriate family to serve as mentors, you might search out local clubs that might be helpful such as The American Women’s Club, Meetup.com, United Invitations, The Stockholm Expat Meetup Group
Learning the Swedish Language is a must.
The first thing that everyone mentions is language. Swedish part of the Germanic language tree; Therefore, it’s actually quite easy to learn for many nationals who can pretty easily grasp written text and even understand spoken Swedish. There are many apps and resources to help that can be downloaded for free, as well as a range of language schools.
Here are the most downloadable language Apps:
● Duolingo has the highest rating
● Google Translate
For people that are moving with children who opt for a local Swedish school, it’s very important for the parents to also have a command of the language. I’m sure you can imagine sitting in a classroom full of other parents trying to understand what is being said. It’s a very uncomfortable thing to do if you do not know the language which is one of the reasons the international schools are favored by expats.
GROUP SWEDISH CLASSES www.folkuniversitet.se we have seen very good results from clients and our own staff here. www.berlitz.com is used by many companies SFI – Swedish for foreigners is free of charge and offered in most municipalities, google your location and look at this one.
Help your expat family plan fun things to do in Sweden and surrounding areas:
Having family time that is fun and exploratory is a wonderful way to stay close, have fun and learn more about Stockholm and Sweden. This will help your new family to assimilate better because they will be more familiar with their surroundings. Are there any other families in your office willing to sit down with your new family and give suggestions of fun, age appropriate places to go with their children? Here is a YouTube of Lena’s daughter explaining her favorite places to visit in Stockholm.
Feel free to request our Fact Sheet with Activities With Children so your new family can gain insights and have a great start here in Sweden. Of course, add your own ideas too. Especially in the beginning, before both parents are working and perhaps there’s a waiting period to get a place at daycare, this will be very much appreciated by both your recruit and the rest of the family.
If you plan on sending employees to Sweden, you will learn useful information by reading our Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden.