When I say that I am working in Sweden, I usually get a lot of questions. Or, I hear a lot of clichés. I know that there are some pre-conceived ideas around it and how good working here is. And so, here, I am not aiming on saying that everything is perfect. Instead, I will try to picture a more realistic situation. My objective is not to give a wrong idea nor to discourage people to come, but to give an objective and accurate idea of what’s like to work in Sweden.
As experiences can be different based on the company, its culture or the industry, I want to use my background as an example. Of course your experience might differ and as we know experiences are lived differently among people, even within the same company.
So to talk about myself, I am working for a Swedish public company, in a rather small office. I am currently the only foreigner employed and being on site full-time. So as you can guess, everyone else is Swedish. The language used is Swedish and it is the language used in most cases – unless I don’t understand. However, if you want to know more about the Swedish language, I talked about it just here. However, I am working closely with another company – international – and where the company language is English. Do you manage picturing this?!
I am not willing to disclose the company I am working for nor my job title, but I am working in the transport and logistics industry, and have “normal” office hours. After joining this company in January 2018, I, now, have a better idea of what’s like to work in Sweden. This situation might not be the most common in Sweden, but Stockholm is full of international companies and so I believe some of you will be able to relate!
I will split each part into different sections which are making sense to me, and also based on my experience here. Please keep in mind that, this is only my experience. Of course, I am not trying to generalise anything and if you work in Sweden or even in Stockholm, you might experience things a different way. Though, if it is the case, I’d love to hear what you think of it!
To my biggest surprise, there is no or very little hierarchy in Sweden. I was expected the “logical” chart within the organisation but, even though employees have different position and responsibilities within their role, there is not barriers among people. Meaning, anyone can go to the manager and have a talk with him/her. So, it is actually a very pleasant way of working as things are usually very cordial and easy-going.
In addition, I discover that in Sweden, it is ok to say “no”. Let me explain this one. In many situations, when a manager is asking you to complete a task, you can say no to it, and that’s completely fine! No one will blame you for it! Can we just agree on this point, as, when saying no, it is mostly because a person either does not have a skill/capacity and know it. The second option here regards the level of stress and anxiety the situation could bring. So, it would be better and more efficient to refuse to do the task. Saying no because one just does not want or is lazy – that does not work.
Salary & Taxation
Salaries in Sweden are highly regulated and so no matter where you work in the country, you’d have pretty much the same salary. There are collective agreements for all industries and so it binds companies to offer the same minimum salary to all employees. All employees in a given position – regardless of gender. Of course, your salary, based on the collective agreement, is adjusted depending on your studies, previous experiences and whether you are junior or senior in a company.
Then, I think it is important to mention that, the salary could be higher than in other countries in Western Europe. But keep in mind that the cost of living is also higher – if you want to read more about it, it’s here. So I would say that after deducting taxes (30%), salaries in Sweden are not a lot higher than anywhere else in Western Europe. I’m afraid that if you were hoping on coming to Sweden to make millions, you might be disappointed…!
This is also a more personal section, and based on hobbies, relationship or the amount of hours you have. Everyone is different and also companies have different expectations when recruiting people on different roles.
This is, I think, one of my favourite thing when working in Sweden: the flexible hours! Here, the weekly amount of hours to work is 40 hours. However, you can arrange your schedule as you like, so if you work more one day, you can work less the next one. Let me give you an example. Imagine, you come to the office at 8 in the morning and stay until 17, everyday in the week. But for some reason you come at 7 the next week. And still leave at 17 because of the amount of work you have. Well that means that you have 5 extra hours which you can take off the following week.
In my case, these extra hours are not paid. But I can just spend more time at home or have a long weekend once in a while. Using this, we have a bit more time to travel as we get days off to add to our weekends. Another advantage is that if I feel a bit sick or not so great one day, I can just head back home but stay longer the next day to compensate. I tell you, that’s a great system!
For this last part of the article I wanted to mention the benefits of working in Sweden. Of course, and as in many countries, an employee can receive an amount of benefits from his/her company. It can be both monetary of not.
I like the fact that in Sweden, there is a strong emphasis on having a balance between the professional and the personal. It means that some companies give an amount of money every year to be spent on health and well-being. This can be a card to your local gym, a spa access or anything else you can think of. Also, many companies have their own gyms and so it is rather easy to come in the morning with a sport bag and either start or finish the day there. Yes, you read correctly! It’s pretty amazing right?!
I hope this article gave you some ideas on how it is like to work in Sweden. And also gave the advantages, and other aspects of how it is like to work here. Please keep in mind that this is based only on my personal experience and things can differ depending on companies. If you have details to add, please let me know in the comments below!