How to Set Accurate Expectations for Your New Hire Moving to Sweden

two_woman_talking/how to set accurate expectations for your new hire moving to swedenIf you are considering bringing a new hire to Sweden, let them know up front as many details about their relocation process, Sweden itself, and how life will be different so there are no surprises when they come to Sweden. Once your offer is confirmed, lead your new expat through the relocation process step by step ensuring they have all the support, knowledge, and resources they need along the way.

 If you are new to global relocation to Sweden and have not decided on your policies yet, please do consider how an easeful and supportive relocation process affects staying power as well as your company’s brand reputation. Consider investing time, and funds for outside support generously during this stage as it will pay off in the long run.

Here are the key systems we feel are important to offer your employees in the way of emotional and financial support.

General Advice

Remind your expat to have patience with long winded government agencies. It currently takes 12 weeks to get the Swedish Personal Number which is basically the key to Sweden. Most things are cumbersome without the personal number and for many nationalities, it can be a needed item to open a bank account.

Patience important to remember in other areas of the settling in period as well. Rome wasn’t built in one day and understanding work culture and finding friends takes time too. Mentor your employees in building patience and explain that once the practical aspects are in place they will be cruising right along as things work very well after that.

Make sure potential hire and spouse are a candidate for assimilating well to the Swedish lifestyle and culture.

There are things that make Sweden different from other countries. If your new hire has a family, be sure they are on board and happy about the move. The family should be prepped on Swedish culture as well. It helps to have traveling spouses educated on the opportunities that await them for work and family pleasure. If possible, supply spouses with job search assistance. Sweden has high taxes and cost of living. Most families have dual earners just to pay the bills. It will be important for your new family to know this.

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. A survey of expats conducted by MonitorGroup for Global Connection found: 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. For the 7% when only the family leaves prematurely, (family returns home, employee does not), the decision to go back often has to do with education, but the report also cites: “The real reason is often the fact that the family has difficulty adjusting.”

Some basic things to share about Swedes:

Swedes are obsessed with punctuality. 8 AM means 8:00 AM. Lateness is not appreciated in Sweden. If your new hire is late to meetings on a regular basis they will not be respected.

Most countries have hierarchical corporate structures while in Sweden it is seemingly flat. It is utterly confusing to most expats that arrive and asking the right questions is key. Not just the right questions.. Ask the right person. It is probably not the one that they think.

Swedes are conscious of their money, and they are also fair. They do not tend to pay for convenience and will put in the extra effort to do things themselves. It is no coincidence that IKEA is a Swedish company and don’t be surprised if you see the president of the company going to pick up the lunch order.

Explain to your new hire that learning the Swedish language will give them an advantage over non-Swedish speaking counterparts. Consider offering language lessons as part of your relocation package.

Is your new hire flexible, independent, and determined? These are all fantastic qualities for a person to have if they are moving to a new country for work.

We have a complementary course that can help your expat and their family assimilate to Sweden. The videos and worksheets in this course will help expats hit the ground running in their new assignment. The training is packed with real life advice from both current and previous expats and local managers who understand the most common obstacles and how to overcome them. The worksheets help expats apply the knowledge they learn in this course and provide useful information from Swedish locals.

Educate your hire on the housing situation in Sweden, and help them through the process of obtaining a home. This will entail singing a corporate lease.

Prepare them for the housing challenge. To successfully secure housing for your talent a lease needs to be signed and returned to the landlord within 24-48 hours. Never ever let a weekend pass… a lot can happen over those couple of days in a difficult market. It’s well known that there is a housing shortage in Sweden and that the law is written to protect the tenant. The market moves very quickly and works on a first come first served basis so it is essential to be able to move swiftly. Be prepared to sign a corporate lease and let them know, in advance, how the process works.

For more info on housing. You may be interested in reviewing our HOUSING GUIDE 


Give your new hire a professional relocation specialist who can show them around the city, help them find appropriate schools for their children, and sort out any cultural confusions that may arise and give them resources if they are in need: ie, skilled labor, schools, sports, volunteer opportunities, etc.

We believe that once a new hire arrives, they should 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. A Relocation Specialist can educate on everything important to know about Sweden including customs, neighborhoods, schools, parking, laws, etc. This greatly helps your expats to stay positive and informed. Have your relocation company spend an afternoon with your new hire and their spouse to show them around the city/town and make sure there are no glaring needs that are not being met.

Allow plenty of time for school finding, housing and move in time so they can arrive with the least amount of stress.

Each family and each expat child is unique and so only they will know how to choose the right school. Though 87% of expatriate policies include provisions for education, much of the burden for the basic research to find the perfect institution to foster their child’s learning is placed on the parents. But if parents are new to Sweden, either HR or your relocation company should assist in helping them find the right school for their children. This should be done 6 months in advance if possible.

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.

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