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Excerpted from the Sweden Career Guide

Daily Life

Introduction

Sweden is green! Recycling is a big factor in everyone’s daily life, with more than 99 percent of household waste being recycled. Recycling applies to the workplace, as well.

Cuisine

Traditional dishes are especially appreciated at occasions such as Christmas, Easter and Midsummer. The Swedish smörgåsbord (a large presentation of mixed hors d’oeuvres) is a common treat at these feasts.

Recreation

Swedes are very enthusiastic about sports, particularly outdoor activities. Because of their fondness for physical activity, most Swedes are in good health and enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world.

Time Management

Employees are entitled to five weeks of vacation per year. Four of them are usually taken during the summer months.

Communication

Communication Styles

Swedes are reserved but direct communicators. They tend to be literal in their speech and are not afraid to voice their opinions.

Language Skills

Swedish, a North Germanic language, is the official language of Sweden. Recognized minority languages include Sámi, Finnish, Meänkieli (similar to Finnish and spoken in the Torne valley in the north), Yiddish and Romani Chib.

If You Want to Act Like a Local...

  • Use the word tack, meaning 'thank you.'

  • When toasting, make eye contact with everyone present and say Skål (pronounced 'Skohl').

  • Swedes are reserved in public and talking to strangers without an obvious reason may appear unusual. But strangers asking for directions or for other information are met with kindness.

  • If invited to a dinner or a party, traditionally it is polite to phone the host and say “thank you for inviting me.” (tack för senast!)

Office Protocol

The workplace in Sweden is a quiet and sober place. Sincerity and seriousness, not necessarily friendliness, are the most important qualities of a Swedish worker. Swedes distrust loud, overly friendly or boastful behavior.

Management Styles

Sweden’s culture is egalitarian and its workplace is no different. Senior managers and lowly staffers work together almost as equals on projects. Bosses provide guidance and make decisions. Subordinates provide detailed information and follow the bosses’ decisions. Managers typically use a hands-off supervisory style, allowing workers to function independently.

Business Practices

Swedes tend to get down to business quickly; small talk before meetings is often kept very brief. Meetings are short but frequent, and are often a way to allow all concerned the opportunity to air opinions. Subordinates and superiors speak openly during meetings in Sweden. All individuals share information and ideas, and everybody joins in the consensus-building process. This is true in both meetings of peers and meetings between superiors and their subordinates. It is not necessary to confirm decisions made in a meeting in writing.

This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete Sweden guide.



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