Finnish Work Culture

Finnish Work Culture

As one of Finland’s most important values is equality, this shows also in the workplace. No matter what the tasks are, everyone is equal as human being. There are women in high positions and discrimination related to age, race, religion or gender is not allowed in the workplace. There are flat hierarchies, and everyone can express their opinions. This however also means more responsibility for the area that the employee oversees.

People mostly address each other by first name and “sinä” is mostly used in business encounters and among colleagues. Upon the first encounter with elder or senior staff, it is advised to address in a more formal manner using “te”. The senior staff will most likely offer then the informal way of address.  However, use the first name of your employer only if he introduces himself to you by first name or offers you to call him by first name. When writing an application, use the last name.

When greeting each other in a work environment, you shake hands, hugging is reserved for close friends and family, not kissing on the cheeks. When you speak, it is seen as polite and honest to keep eye contact.

In the workplaces, everyone is responsible for their own work and employees are not strictly controlled or supervised. The employees are expected to work independently, use their own initiative and make decisions related to their tasks.

The communication style is straight forward and focused on work related issues with little or no small talk

  • Communication style:
    • Straight forward, focused on work related issues, little or no small talk,
    • eye contact when speaking,
    • Realism, consider possible downsides of any proposal

Also, the dress code is usually rather casual compared to many other countries, there are places where a uniform is required that will be provided by the employer.

Finns separate work from private life, so it can take a longer time to bond with a coworker. Try to be active and use company organized activities such as Pikkujoulu (Staff Christmas parties) and outdoor activities, as well as sauna visits. Additionally, you can ask a coworker to meet in your free time.

You are not supposed to take care of your own affairs during working hours. Private phone calls are supposed to be made during breaks. If you have to visit a doctor or have issues that cannot be dealt with outside working hours you have to ask for permission and the time will be deducted from your working hours.


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