Global Competition: What Swedish HR Can Do


Photo by: Visit Stockholm / Courtesy of

Countries and cities around the world are competing for tourism, investments, startups, employees and lastly large corporate contracts so they can be the home for companies who create jobs. The end goal is to be a place that’s a desired destination to live, work and vacation, all of which boost the economy.

As a Swedish HR you are competing globally to find the right hires for your skills gaps. Your competition is HR teams from, not only Sweden, but HR teams from around the world, and some of these countries and companies are putting all of their resources into being an attractive place to live and work.

The global landscape for work is always in flux. Take Ireland for example. Ireland’s ability to attract and retain FDI (foreign direct investment) has improved greatly in the last 25 years and this is due to their well thought out plan to invest in education and training for students and employees, invest funds and infrastructure into their cities, and the consistent immigration and policy-making upgrades by their government over many decades to attract businesses and startups.

Sweden is also a country with many positive attributes including beautiful cities filled with vibrant design and culture, landscapes of stunning natural beauty, flat corporate office structures, free daycare, and excellent schooling, equal pay, and flex time just to name a few. All this is great; however, your potential employees may very well be comparing your offer against other offers from around the world.

In the past, we have written about ways to sell your new hire on Sweden as a country and it is important to continue to think of creative ways to make your company and Sweden a place where talented people want to live and work.

Do you have creative ways to attract new hires to your company, a solid protocol to retain them, and a mission to make your company so amazing that your employees do your marketing for you? Wouldn’t it be great to have your employees post proud company achievements on their personal social media accounts and discuss positive company values such as corporate, social, and environmental responsibility? The end goal is that your company will be the company that everyone wants to work for, around the world.

Here are our thoughts on how this can be done:

It all begins with Immigration. Immigration policies must be corporate friendly.

In Sweden, we have the Migration Agency and their rules must be followed without exception. It is smart and usually saves time and money, to acquire professional assistance from a reputable agency to avoid any delays or deportations. Working with local immigration consultants will give you access to their expertise in Swedish relocation as well as immigration law. This guidance can help design the conversations you’ll be having your company’s leadership when briefing on issues like permits, visas, taxation, and compliance.

Many countries are working to improve and streamline their skilled worker immigration policies. Denmark, for example, passed 3 different Immigration Acts that will make it easier for companies to hire foreigners and for foreigners to work in Denmark. Japan and Germany have also made changes to their immigration laws to fill skills gaps.

As mentioned above, in the past several years, Ireland has transformed their country from a struggling one to one of the top places young people want to work in the EU.

All this is said to illustrate that skills gaps exist globally, and many countries are doing whatever they can to be a viable and desired place to work.

Now as a Human Resource Manager, immigration isn’t really under your jurisdiction, but what can you do to make your company a place where people from around the world want to work? Below we will discuss some ideas:

Have an excellent relocation policy as the first step to an excellent onboarding policy.

This is one of the best ways to attract new hires. This is the first way you can show that you will support your new hire every step in their career. You can find the details for how to do this and more on each of these items below in this previous blog. Make sure to provide the following to help them relocate with support:

  • Local Orientation
  • Accompanied Home Hunting 
  • Lease signing by your company
  • Property Inspection:
  • Utility Survey & Set Up:
  • Civic Registration:
  • Bank Service:
  • International School Search:
  • Assist non-EU nationals with their Work Permits and any immigration paperwork that needs to be completed.

After all this is completed, do not drop the ball. Have weekly and monthly check-ins to makes sure your expats have all the support they need.

Provide onsite training to employees (e.g., seminars, training programs).

Provide coaching and ongoing mentoring about Sweden and Swedes to help them to feel supported long after they start.

One of the top things you can do for your employees is to continue to offer training to add new skills to their toolbox. We all know that flexibility and expertise is what is needed these days in the workforce. The more skills acquired, the more secure a person’s career will be. Paid training and ongoing education is highly valued and often worth more than an increased paycheck.

As an example, the job site Monster rated Seattle Genetics as a company that puts job training first. They offer: tuition reimbursement, onsite training courses to enhance job-related skills, and access to job-related conferences and seminars. Taylor Cline, a staffing associate is quoted as saying “Developing our employees’ careers is an investment for both our employees and the future of Seattle Genetics.”

Employees are always impressed with offerings such as tuition reimbursement, training courses and the ability to go to job-related conferences.

In addition, you could offer a variety of continuing education rewards and differentiate them depending on how high the employee’s achievements are.

Increase compensation if possible to take into account Sweden’s high taxes.

In Sweden, taxes are high. There are amazing social programs but the high taxes still may come as a shock to some new expats. You may need to make this very clear from the start by explaining how much of their salary your expat will loose after taxes, especially for the younger hires who may be unaware. If you cannot increase compensation accordingly to pay for high rents, it is customary to pay for moving in costs like apartment deposits, etc.

Make your employees proud to work for you.

Have social responsibility and community outreach programs that they can take part in and be proud to be a part of. People want to work for companies who take a stand on issues like Patagonia’s passion for the environment, Virgin Atlantic’s passion for innovation and Microsoft founder’s interest in global healthcare.

Step outside the box with your marketing.

We recently saw an advertisement from a company in Portugal targeted to young Swedes offering these enticements: paid housing, pick-up at the airport, free courses, events and parties, and more. This may not be your style but there are many creative ways to market your open positions. Some ideas are: Ask employees to post job openings on their social media, hang out in places (on and offline) where your talent spends time so you and your company are familiar and visible to them, give talks at universities and in venues where your potential new hires may be so more people are educated about what your company offers.

Have you thought about an Employee Advocacy Program? This can often be a very effective way to increase your brand awareness in a very positive way. More on that here in this article that discusses the top 10 brands that do Employee Advocacy right.

Luckily Sweden is a wonderful place to live, and most likely your company is a great place to work. So, you already have a head start in attracting great talent! We hope some of these ideas will inspire you to continue to find ways to attract and keep amazing talent who will help your company to be the best it can be in our ever-expanding global economy.

If you would like to learn more about these topics you might be interested in this Immigration Guide on our website with several articles on the subject.

Relocate Global Talent Easily

Let us help you relocate your international talent
to make the transfer as smooth as possible.