Finns are strong believers in equality, and these egalitarian values also apply at work. Titles and seniority may vary, but everyone has equal worth. Corporate hierarchies are flat, everyone is expected to voice their thoughts and opinions. Furthermore, people use each other’s first names at work rather than formal titles like “Mrs.” or “Dr." -- and this custom often extends to the CEO!
Finnish work culture
In opportunities for skills development in Europe
European Skills Index Technical Report 2020
Let’s dive into Finnish culture – and explore what you might expect to find at a Finnish workplace.
If you’ve ever met a Finn, chances are they’ve mentioned the reserved nature of their countrymen. While Finns jokingly like to reinforce these stereotypes (and poke fun at them), you’ll usually find that people in Finland are warm, sincere, and honest – both at home and at work.
Find work-life balance
At work, Finns typically enjoy lunch and coffee breaks with colleagues, and some offices even have organized sports teams or hobby clubs. And while Finns are hard workers while on the job, most draw a firm line between work and life: once they leave the office, the workday is over.
Furthermore, taking time off for rest or a well-deserved vacation isn’t just expected – it’s encouraged. Typically, employees have four to six weeks of vacation per year, and many use their vacation time to take long breaks during the summer months. There are also numerous workplace holidays. Finally, even though religion doesn’t play a central role in the lives of most Finns, many bank holidays reflect the Christian calendar, so you can expect to have days off around Christmas and Easter.
Say what you mean
Finns are efficient: they follow schedules, meet deadlines, and plan ahead – and they expect others to do the same. They also take words at face-value. If you say you’ll do something by a given time, people expect you to do it.
At work, employers trust employees to put forth their best effort and expect people to complete projects correctly and on-time. If the job gets done and the quality is sufficient, managers usually remain hands-off and let the work speak for itself. And if a workplace issue crops up, it helps to remember that Finns are pragmatic problem-solvers. Talk to your team or manager, and they will help you address the issue. In Finland, it’s OK to ask for help.
Grow into a better pro
In Finland, learning never stops. Finns heavily invest in education, and skills development is an important part of policy-making. That spirit of life-long learning is also embraced in the workplace. According to studies, Finland actually offers the best opportunities in Europe for employees who want to develop their professional skills at work.
Go by the book
Finns like rules and tend to follow them. In a Finnish meeting, for example, expect a clear agenda that gets straight to the point and mutual agreement on an approach or solution to address any issues.
This penchant for structure is also reflected in Finnish laws, rules, and regulations – for both employers and employees. Various legislation and collective agreements determine things like minimum wage, working hours, holidays, sick pay, and terms of dismissal, as Finns believe having clearly defined standards for everyone levels the playing field.
Furthermore, discrimination of any kind is not tolerated in the workplace: Finland’s constitution guarantees equal treatment regardless of race, religion, gender identity, and more. So, while diversity and inclusion efforts are still a work in progress, employees of all backgrounds, beliefs, and ethnicities are legally entitled to work in a fair and supportive environment.
Take this information with a grain of salt
While this article provides a general overview of what to expect at work in Finland, every company, workplace, and person is unique. Who knows? Your future Finnish colleagues might just be the chattiest group of co-workers you’ve ever had.
Make sure to apply for a job in Finland to experience the work culture of this Nordic nation.
You might also want to know