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Working in Sweden

Your guide to expat life in Sweden

Want to work in Sweden?

The Swedish workplace is relaxed but professional. Companies take care of their employees and there are plenty of opportunities for qualified expats, particularly in education, engineering, mining and medicine.

Despite its progressive social policies, the Swedish government limits its involvement in the private sector. The economy is driven by innovative industries and a highly skilled labour force well protected by local laws. Exports also play a major role in the country’s economy.

Business in Sweden

Competition for jobs is often fierce in Sweden, and being aware of local business culture will be key to your success.

Swedes keep their work and private lives separate. Despite generous leave allowances and flexible working hours, you’ll be expected to maintain high levels of productivity.

Reaching a consensus is integral to doing business in Sweden – so be prepared for a lot of meetings. Everyone’s opinion is valued and decisions are carefully considered.

Women are treated equally in the workplace and hold a high number of senior positions in top companies. The Swedish workplace doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on hierarchy. The collective is valued above individuals.

Open-plan offices are common, and managers are expected to be approachable. Colleagues call each other by their first names, but you’ll be expected to keep your emotions in check. Punctuality is important. If you aren’t on time, expect your meeting to start without you.

Practical details

English is widely spoken in business, especially at the multinational level. Business hours are usually from 08:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.

While dress code depends on company and industry, most offices in Sweden tend to be quite casual. Jeans and a long-sleeved shirt are a popular choice for men.

Business people greet one another by shaking hands. Giving gifts isn’t common. With a big emphasis on transparency, it might be seen as inappropriate.

Expat salaries in Sweden

Because of Sweden’s, and particularly Stockholm’s, eye-watering cost of living, salaries are high. Skilled and qualified expats can expect to live comfortably off their salaries.

Top tips for working in Sweden

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Sweden.

Get your permit and apply for a personnummer (similar to a social security number) as soon as possible. Many services are difficult to arrange before you have this number, but once you have it, almost everything is as easy or easier than in the U.S. There are a few exceptions, of course, but those mostly relate to accommodation.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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