Photographer: Jeppe Wikström / Photo provided by https://www.stockholmbusinessregion.com/press/media-bank/
Your company is transferring a new hire to Sweden. Do you have all your strategies in place for a smooth transition for both your team and your new hire? If you are new to Global Mobility, here are some things to think about, so your relocation runs smoothly.
Topics to Discuss With Your Management
Once your organization has determined that relocating personnel is necessary to achieve business objectives, the first hurdle will be deciding what the relocation budget will include. Reporting and budgeting are essential when planning a relocation. Also staying compliant and not taking risks where the talent can suffer goes without saying.
Global relocation companies usually suggest purchasing bundled services which include all of the necessary assistance your new hire will need so they, and you feel supported and can concentrate on getting their jobs done. You do not want them getting distracted with immigration and moving headaches.
Here are some other internal conversations that you might consider having:
Compliance: You, as an HR Manager, will need to be concerned with compliance. We see some companies foregoing compliance to quickly get people on the ground in different locations, while that makes sense to get things started from a business perspective. It doesn’t make sense from a human perspective, in many countries it’s very dangerous to work on a tourist or business Visa and if caught it can render very harsh consequences for the individual as well as HR and even jeopardize the business. So the advice is to do it right the first time rather than having damage control and if you are lucky to redo the whole process and losing time at a later stage.
- What are the work visa restrictions that need to be considered?
- What is the length of stay for your employees?
- What is the project timeline for the relocation?
Time for planning an assignment: You can’t get foreign talent in place for longer-term assignments in just a few weeks. When does the new hire need to arrive? If you are planning the relocation over the summer, this blog post will give you some insight into standard summer delays in Sweden and Europe in general.
Location: Where will your new hire and their family stay when they arrive in Sweden? If this is just a short-term affair; a couple of weeks for a training session with a team of ready workers, a hotel will work. However, if your team member is going to be staying for months or years, they need to have housing affordable to them. The housing can be tricky and the salary offered needs to take into consideration the housing costs. Finding a rental in Stockholm can be difficult and stressful. Here are some things to consider.
Most Swede’s agree, finding accommodation in Stockholm can be challenging. The extremely regulated housing market and high demand for homes in Stockholm make this task daunting. You are likely concerned about providing your expat with a new home on a timely schedule that is comfortable and affordable. Here are our tips on how to make this happen.
Download our Stockholm housing guide. This regularly updated guide will share important facts and current rental prices for apartments in Stockholm and surrounding areas. Show this to your transferee so they understand the market in advance.
Review the Swedish home finding process with your transferee before you begin the search. Let them know the order of events that need to take place during this process. This will help them (and you) stay as calm as possible during an often stressful process.
Have a strategy for the search. Help your expat list out their top priorities for a home and advise that they will have to act fast once they find something that is acceptable, due to high demand for each property. Discuss their budget and show your transfer listings so they have an idea of what they can afford.
You will need to be in close communication with your transferee during this process. Let them know that, once an apartment is found, the lease will need to be signed, by the company, immediately due to high demand. If you have a legal department that is going to review the lease, ask for a mock lease beforehand as a landlord will expect it to be signed within 24-48 hours. The transferee needs to make a very swift decision or the home finding program will need to be done all over which incurs additional costs and potentially hotel costs to get the person/s on the ground on time.
Plan to sign the lease on your employee’s behalf; personal leases pay a premium. Companies with good brand names pay less.
Feel free to reach out to us for assistance. We can help you set the rental budget even before you put together your offer letter. Our job is to keep rental levels down and we don’t receive anything from the landlord, nor do we add a layer and charge your employee for that.
Other things to think about:
Education: If your team is bringing their families for longer periods of time, then HR needs to know where their transfer’s children can go to school.
Cultural Readiness: Are you choosing people who will be able to assimilate to the new country’s cultural climate easily? Are they flexible, social, and open-minded people who are willing to have patience with the process? Here are some things they will need to understand about Sweden & the Swedes when they arrive.
- Punctuality, is extremely important to Swedes and most other nationalities, yes even the Germans are more relaxed and most importantly don’t take it personally if someone is a few minutes late. For a new expat hire it means a lot to know this BEFORE they are LATE. Explain the essence of punctuality.
- Time management is another area where Swedes are very strict compared to most others. Lateness isn’t appreciated and management is very attentive to the meeting of deadlines. Swedes rarely micromanage and rely on the word of the colleagues. Therefore it often comes as a surprise if a new hire didn’t understand what to do and is used to a different management style where clear instructions and follow up is the norm. The endless meetings are meant to address any questions, but it isn’t natural for everyone to bring up problems in that forum.
- While Swedes aren’t known to be the most polite people on the planet, we respond quickly to emails. When an email is left unanswered it irks the Swede. It can be perceived as a sign that the colleague is nonchalant or even worse it’s taken personally. The sender has to keep track of responses which is tiresome and actions and planning for non-responses must be in place. Probably the new hire has read the email and believed it is for information only.
- Day to Day Schedule: Something else that no one ever really considers is the day-to-day of things. Where will your team members live versus where they work? How will they get around? Will they be able to drive? What are the customs of those activities? Are they within walking distance of the job site? Where do they get groceries? Where do they go for other services? These are all things which need to be known ahead of time so that proper housing, school decisions can be made. All of this also may influence salary considerations.
Steps to take for a smooth Immigration:
Have all the required documents for the Swedish Migration Agency. Download our document cheat sheet to help with this.
Announce the position on Eures
The position must be announced on Eures, a website powered by the employment agency to allow anyone within the European Union to apply for the job before it’s offered to someone outside the EU. While supposedly it is now acceptable to advertise the position on LinkedIn we have seen denial at the renewal stage due to this and to be sure to keep your talent beyond two years this is the safe route.
Get necessary residence and work permits
This is usually the first step in any corporate relocation effort. Check the applicant’s passport expiration date so you can get the appropriate length of time for the permit. Without a residence permit, your new employee cannot live or work in Sweden. If any of your workers already have a residence permit, check to ensure that it hasn’t expired. All expired permits should be renewed before expiration or your talent may have to leave Sweden.
Ask your new hire if they have been here before with a business VISA
This can cause you untold problems in the future. If an employee has been in Sweden before on a business VISA, probably for interviewing, this needs to be explained to the immigration authorities. You don’t want the migration agency to think that your new hire is already working in Sweden when their application is still pending.
If your new hire has worked in Sweden before, have an immigration professional review their paperwork
This too can severely hinder the application process unless the previous employment process and even the termination process were handled professionally. For instance, problems can arise involving faulty permits, missing payslips, and unfulfilled compensation promises. Ensure that the records for the past employment are squeaky clean so you do not pay the price later on. It’s common to offer employment, yet adding a clause in the contract that states that the offer is terminated in case the work permit isn’t approved.
Have the right insurance plan
Every resident of Sweden is entitled to basic benefits such as healthcare, parental benefits, disability coverage, child allowances, and other insurance payments. Yet, non-EU nationals must also receive additional insurance covers such as pension, life, occupational injury insurance and loss of income insurance. There are some exceptions for EU blue card holders, ICT permit holders and there’s also an age requirement for a pension.
Adjust salaries to match Swedish rates
Finally, anyone who works in Sweden must have a decent salary. In fact, the Swedish government has made it very clear that any foreign national employee MUST be paid at least as much as their Swedish counterparts in similar positions are paid. Make sure the salary you are planning to offer is acceptable to the union. Failure to do so would amount to a breach of the law.
The Union must be given the opportunity to qualify the employment terms
Even companies that don’t have a so-called “collective agreement” (Kollektivavtal) must reach out to a relevant union and ask them to qualify the terms. Some unions will do that while they may state that the company doesn’t have an agreement with them. Thus far that has been acceptable to the Migration Agency.
All these tips will get you started. If you would like more information feel free to set up a free 15 minute corporate consultation with us.