4 things Danish companies should do to make their expats stay longer

Unfortunately it’s a fact that expats have a hard time settling in when they relocate to Denmark. This is a huge problem for companies in Denmark that are often dependent on attracting and maintaining skilled employees from the rest of the world. In our experience a lot of companies could do a lot more to integrate their expats into Denmark successfully. As culture nerds, we have 4 suggestions.

Is Denmark that bad at making expats feel welcome? Unfortunately the answer is yes. According to the 2017 Internations report in the category “settling in”, Denmark ranks an embarrassing 63 out of 65. This category refers to the expat’s experience of the easiness of settling in into the new country. How welcome do you feel in your new country? Are you able to find local friends? Do you understand the new culture? According to the Internations report a high number of expats in Denmark find it very hard to settle in Denmark. And a lot of Danish companies experience their expats breaking their contracts and leaving before time because they – or their spouse – just don’t feel at home in Denmark.

https://di.dk/dibusiness/nyheder/pages/danmark-i-bunden-udlaendinge-har-svaert-ved-at-falde-til.aspx

In the above article DI recommends for companies to provide their expats with lessons in Danish language in order to ensure better integration. We believe that it is a step in the right direction, but we still believe more should also be done in order to secure longterm stays.

Based on our work with expats in Denmark, these are our recommendations:

1: Take care of the whole family

Often, expats come with a package of a whole family: spouse and kids. And often, expats end up leaving before the end of a contract because the spouse simply doesn’t feel happy in the new country. Therefore, it is just as important to ensure the settlement of the whole family. This should begin long time before the family arrives in Denmark. E.g. it would be a good idea to find the right school for the kids. Find a network for the spouse, and find out what qualifications and interrests the spouse has. In that way he or she might be able to find work or voluntary work in Denmark. These are all things that take time, but they will ensure a happier expat with a happier family in Denmark. Willing to stay longer.

2: Make initiatives that ensure a more “talkative” culture at work

Traditionally Danish work culture is not very talkative. This is probably because Danes generally stay shorter hours at work (because of the Danish work-life balance). Therefore Danes are very efficient in the hours they spend at work. This leaves less time for personal chit-chat. And knowing your colleagues on a more personal level is not a necessity for a good work relation. This very “professional” working culture makes it harder for expats to find friends among their colleagues. Often expats feel lonely at work because Danes have a tendency to speak Danish with their colleagues at lunch breaks, which can feel very excluding towards non-Danish-speakers.

Therefore we recommend that Danish companies make initiatives that make expats feel more welcome. This could e.g. be a voluntary programme of monthly dinner parties in private homes with a mix of native Danes and expats. Furthermore internal mentor or buddy programmes is also a great way to get expats settled better into the company.

3: Do courses on Danish culture and work culture

Understanding the Danish language is one thing. Understanding Danish culture is a whole different thing. In our opinion it is more important to understand the culture, than being able to speak the language, because, let’s face it, most Danes speak fluently English anyway. Compared to the rest of the world Danish culture is quite unique – especially our working culture. E.g. our organisation cultures tend to have very flat hierarchies compared to the organisations in the rest of the world. Navigating and communicating in Danish organisation cultures can be very confusing to a foreigner, so an introduction to Danish culture and work culture should always be a part of the expat’s (and the rest of the family’s) introduction programme.

4: More positive storytelling regarding expats

The contributions of the expat workforce is crucial to a lot of companies – even more so in the coming years. Furthermore expats also put large amounts of tax money into Danish treasury. Expats make Danish society more international, more diverse. This should be celebrated a lot more. Danish companies could do a lot more to tell the stories of the expats, who contribute to Danish society. Internally as well as externally.

So to sum up, Danish companies are currently not doing enough to integrate their expats successfully. But we can’t blame the companies alone. As a society, we as Danes could do a lot more to be more open towards people who are new to this country. All research show that you get smarter from being around people who are culturally different from yourself, so why not invite an expat family, an exchange student or an immigrant over for dinner – or maybe just a cup of coffee?

If you liked this article you can follow us here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/olskaerqvortrup/

Best,

Gitte & Nicoline, The Culture Nerds

FREE EVENT! FOR EXPATS AND COMPANIES

Unfortunately it’s a fact that expats have a hard time settling in when they relocate to Denmark. This is a huge problem for companies in Denmark that are often dependent on attracting and maintaining skilled employees from the rest of the world. In our experience a lot of companies could do a lot more to integrate their expats into Denmark successfully. This event is an introduction to our thoughts on how this can be done better.

The presentation will give an introduction to the issues, and we will also give an introduction to Danish culture and work culture – which we think is an important element in being succesful at work in Denmark.

The event is free, but we need to know hos many people will attend, so please sign up on: info@olskaerqvortrup, or through eventbrite: https://lnkd.in/dhUUKKi

See you there!

 

All the best from,

The Culture Nerds

4 THINGS DANISH COMPANIES SHOULD DO TO MAKE THEIR EXPATS STAY LONGER

Unfortunately, it’s a fact that expats have a hard time settling in when they relocate to Denmark. This is a huge problem for companies in Denmark, which are often dependent on attracting and maintaining skilled employees from the rest of the world. In our experience a lot of companies could do a lot more to integrate their expats into Denmark successfully. As culture nerds, we have 4 suggestions.

 

Is Denmark that bad at making expats feel welcome? Unfortunately the answer is yes, according to the 2017 Internations report. In the category “settling in” Denmark ranks an embarrassing 63 out of 65. This category refers to the expat’s experience of the easiness of settling in into the new country: How welcome do you feel in your new country? Are you able to find local friends? Do you understand the new culture? According to the Internations report, a high number of expats in Denmark find it very hard to settle in Denmark, and a lot of Danish companies experience their expats ending their contracts and leaving before time because they – or their spouse – just don’t feel at home in Denmark.

 

https://di.dk/dibusiness/nyheder/pages/danmark-i-bunden-udlaendinge-har-svaert-ved-at-falde-til.aspx

 

In the above article, DI recommends companies to provide their expats with lessons in Danish language in order to ensure better integration. We believe that it is a step in the right direction, but we still believe more should also be done in order to secure long-term stays.

Based on our work with expats in Denmark, these are our recommendations:

 

1: Take care of the whole family

Often, expats don’t come alone but with their whole family: spouse and kids. And often, expats end up leaving before the end of a contract because the spouse simply doesn’t feel happy in the new country. Therefore, it is just as important to ensure the settlement of the whole family. This should begin a long time before the family arrives in Denmark – e.g. it would be a good idea to find the right school for the kids, find a network for the spouse, and find out what qualifications and interests the spouse has so that he or she might be able to find work or voluntary work in Denmark. These are all things that take time, but they will ensure a happier expat with a happier family in Denmark, willing to stay longer.

 

2: Make initiatives that ensure a more “talkative” culture at work

Traditionally Danish work culture is not very talkative. This is probably because Danes generally stay shorter hours at work (because of the Danish work-life balance), and therefore Danes are very efficient in the hours they spend at work. This leaves less time for personal chit-chat, and knowing your colleagues on a more personal level is not a necessity for a good work relation. This very “professional” working culture makes it harder for expats to find friends among their colleagues, and often expats feel lonely at work because Danes have a tendency to speak Danish with their colleagues at lunch breaks, which can feel very excluding towards non-Danish-speakers. Therefore we recommend that Danish companies make initiatives so the expats feel more welcome – this could e.g. be a voluntary programme of monthly dinner parties in private homes with a mix of native Danes and expats. Furthermore, internal mentor or buddy programmes is also a great way to get expats settled better into the company.

 

3: Do courses on Danish culture and work culture

Understanding the Danish language is one thing. Understanding Danish culture is quite another. In our opinion it is more important to understand the culture, than being able to speak the language, because, let’s face it, most Danes speak fluent English anyway. Compared to the rest of the world Danish culture is quite unique – especially our working culture. E.g. our organizational cultures tend to have very flat hierarchies compared to the organizations in the rest of the world. Navigating and communicating in Danish organizational cultures can be very confusing to a foreigner, so an introduction to Danish culture and work culture should always be a part of the expat’s (and the rest of the family’s) introduction programme.

 

4: More positive storytelling regarding expats

The contributions of the expat workforce is crucial to a lot of companies – even more so in the coming years. Furthermore, expats also add large amounts of tax money to the Danish Treasury. Expats make Danish society more international, more diverse. This should be celebrated a lot more. Danish companies could do a lot more to tell the stories of the expats, who contribute to Danish society. Internally as well as externally.

So to sum up, Danish companies are currently not doing enough to integrate their expats successfully. But we can’t blame the companies alone. As a society, we as Danes could do a lot more to be more open towards people who are new to this country. All research show that you get smarter from being around people who are culturally different from yourself, so why not invite an expat family, an exchange student, or an immigrant over for dinner – or maybe just for a cup of coffee?

 

If you liked this article you can follow us here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/olskaerqvortrup/

 

Best,

Gitte & Nicoline, The Culture Nerds

Et firkantet skilt med teksten merge right

Working across cultures in Scandinavia and Poland?

Here are 4 cultural differences you need to be aware of
Through experience and research we have found what you should be aware of to get the best and most efficient collaboration in a cross-cultural team of Scandinavians and Poles.

Maybe you might ask yourself, What’s the point of having this cultural focus in a collaboration? How different can we be? As cultural trainers our answer to that is that it’s very important due to the fact that there can be differences in working styles and processes and, furthermore, in mindsets. That’s why it’s crucial to acknowledge these differences, and to have a dialogue in the team about how you want to collaborate to minimise inefficiency, misunderstandings, long process lines and doing tasks twice.

We see that teams that succeed in their cross-cultural collaborations are teams that have discussions about differences and similarities and hereby gain an understanding and work out guidelines for the collaboration.

We have Identified 4 hotspots – the main cultural differences – you have to be aware of when you collaborate in a cross-cultural team with Poles and Scandinavians.

 

1. Trust
Danes and Scandinavians broadly speaking tend to have a general feeling of trust. Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have a long history of high degrees of trust in the state and government – e.g. Denmark is a country with almost no corruption. That gives people a certain amount of trust in the structures of the state, and also the people in it. It also means that Scandinavian people just trust other people. They don’t need to have a personal relation with the people they work with in order to trust them – they just do.

With the Poles it’s different. Trust is not something that you just have. It’s probably that way because there have been so many years of uncertainty in Poland.

This cultural difference can create some issues, because Scandinavians tend to underestimate the importance of building a personal relationship with Polish colleagues. That’s why it’s so important to remember the personal relations regarding building trust in the work-sphere.

 

3. Hierarchy
There tends to be a very flat hierarchy in Scandinavian organisations. And that’s quite unique, because in most countries globally you will find more hierarchy, and this is also the case in Poland.

This can of course vary quite a bit, but even though Poles and e.g. Danes love to have freedom at work, and in how they solve tasks, Poles still expect that the manager or leader will set the direction and make decisions. And they will not go into discussions with the leader as much as Danes would.

This can create issues because Poles might feel a lack of direction when working with e.g. Danes or Swedes and might feel that working processes are very long and confusing, because everyone has to “be asked” before a decision is made, and no one really seems to give direction.

Danes, for instance, might feel that the leading style in Poland is too much about  “micro-managing”, and they might feel that the Poles are not working proactively enough.

 

3. Communication styles
This links again a little to the hierarchy.

Poles will generally not like to confront their boss, and they will not feel a need to be involved in every decision made in the organisation.

Whereas in Denmark employees are actually expected to confront their boss with ideas or if they see a better way to do a task. Furthermore, in Denmark, Norway, and especially Sweden there is a tradition for dialogue in relation to making decisions, and Scandinavian employees are motivated by having a say in all decision-making.

In Poland this dialogue will be seen as a waste of time, and as a frustration. For a Pole a discussion is meant as leading to a decision, where in e.g. Sweden the discussion might just be an opportunity for everyone to be heard. Poles might also communicate very minimal with a focus on the task.

 

4. Working styles
In Poland you generally work longer hours than you do in Scandinavian countries. In e.g. Denmark there is a lot of focus on having work/life balance, where people tend to leave work earlier to pick up kids, and mothers in e.g. Sweden get longer maternity leave.

Furthermore, in both Denmark, Sweden, and Norway there is a tendency to work in groups, communicate a lot, and have slow decision processes which might feel very frustrating to a Pole. Poles tend to work to get things done, and they might be motivated more by seeing things move forward fast with a leader to set the direction.

 

A recap
To sum up, this difference in trust, hierarchy, communication, and working styles can be challenging if you don’t from the beginning agree on some ground rules for any upcoming collaboration. So don’t hesitate – have a great discussion and hopefully a more efficient collaboration.      

 

The very best from
The Culture Nerds