Want to work in Switzerland?
With a strong currency, powerful labour market and booming export industry, Switzerland’s economy has remained stable throughout wider Eurozone volatility. The country offers expats very high earning potential in a diverse and satisfying working environment.
The country is also a great place to start a business. As host to an assortment of European headquarters and multinational companies, it’s especially well equipped for foreign enterprises. Switzerland’s business-friendly legislation, economic stability and highly educated workforce all contribute to its popularity as an expat destination.
Business in Switzerland
The Swiss try to conduct business efficiently and transparently, so what you see is usually what you get. Progress in the workplace is based on merit rather than established connections and networking, and you needn’t worry about being at a disadvantage as a foreigner. In terms of gender in the workplace, more and more women are being appointed to senior positions and they’re treated as equals by their male counterparts.
The Swiss are pedantic, and they value punctuality and smart appearances. The country’s business culture is formal with little room for humour or being unprepared.
Business structures are hierarchical, and managers are expected to lead by example. But decision-making processes are egalitarian, so you can voice your ideas freely. That said, the Swiss tend to keep work and play separate, so your colleagues might be reluctant to discuss their personal lives at work.
Salaries in Switzerland are high, but you’re expected to work hard and deliver results. You’ll earn respect by hitting deadlines and arriving well-prepared for business meetings.
English is used in most corporate environments, while German, French and Italian are spoken in their respective regions. And business hours are usually from 08:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, with a lunch break between 12:00 and 14:00.
Swiss businesspeople are known for being neat and well dressed. Men usually wear jackets, shirts and ties, with dark suits reserved mostly for the banking industry. Women tend to dress conservatively – skirts, dresses and trousers are all acceptable.
A firm handshake is the most common business greeting. Address senior colleagues with their formal title until you’re told otherwise. Giving gifts isn’t a normal part of Swiss business culture, but it might be expected if you’re invited to a colleague’s home. Flowers or chocolates are good choices.
Expat salaries in Switzerland
Expats earn well because they tend to be employed to make up for local skills shortages.
How can I open an offshore bank account?
Top tips for working in Switzerland
See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Switzerland.
Far more enriching from a career and social perspective, with greater chances of reaching retirement more efficiently. This country definitely broadens the horizons.
All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.
All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, 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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