The ABCs of the working world –
what you should know about working
13.1.2014 klo 15-17
Mirka Rahman, Head of Marketing Communications,
Cross-Cultural Trainer and Lecturer
The working culture in Finland involves initiative, reliability
and accuracy . General rules and traditions about greeting
people and conducting yourself at the workplace are also
something you should know before a traineeship or applying for a job in Finland.
The Finnish world of work is governed by several laws and
agreements regulating the operation of the working world,
workplaces, employees and employers.
It is all about the first impression, making the connection
and building the trust. Learn to work with the straightforward Finns and fulfill their expectations. Come and discuss your observations and obtain basic information you really should know.
Emme saa selkeää käsitystä ihmisestä ensikäsittelyssä
What do you think are your competencies?
ABCs of working in Finland Mirka Rahman 13.1.2014
ABC’S of working in Finland
Mirka Kristiina Rahman, MBA USA
Native of Lappeenranta
Head of Marketing Communications, City of Lappeenranta
International affairs, PR in Russia, fam trips
Lecturer at LUT & Saimaa University of Applied Sciences:
crosscultural issues, management, communications
Experienced in USA & Asia for 16 years
Back in Finland past 6 years
Beliefs (what is true)
Values (what is right)
Assumptions (what is real)
Norms (what to do)
Rituals (Etiquette, rites)
Heroes (Leaders, Personalities, etc.)
Symbols (Clothing, Style, Speech, etc.)
Culture is not only National
We are all multicultural!
What do you know of
What are your assumptions?
Define Finland with two sentences,
how the people and the country
Cultural Dimensions in
the context of Finnish
Power distance index (PDI)
The extent to which
the less powerful
and institutions (like the
family) accept and
expect that power is
Where is Finland?
Low Power Distance in Finland
Equality & equal rights for everyone
Low dependence needs
Hierarchy is for convenience
Subordinates expect to be consulted
Subordinates have power to do things
Superiors knowledge can be questioned
collectivism refers to
the degree to which
individuals are integrated
into groups and
for the group.
Where is Finland?
Me, myself and I
Fulfilling my own obligations
Getting my opinions across
Tasks over relationships
Management of individuals
Penalty; loss of self-respect, guilt
Prefer to be rewarded for individual effort
Comfortable speaking out the issues in mind -Will try to shine even on group assignments -May openly challenge authority --
Masculinity versus its
opposite, femininity, another
fundamental issue refers to
the distribution of roles
between the genders.
Masculinity’ dominant values
achievement & success
Femininity’s dominant values
caring for others and quality
Where is Finland?
Quality of life and service to others
Striving for consensus
Work in order to live, continue to work and complain
rather than become an entrepreneur
Small, slow and modest are the best
Overlapping male/female roles -Will not sell him/or herself
Will expect to be asked questions about achievements,
Expects work-life-balance (leaves at 4pm)
Will expect to receive other than only monetary rewards
Uncertainty Avoidance Index
The extent to which people
feel threatened by
uncertainty and ambiguity
and try to avoid these
Where is Finland?
Low UAI Finland
Willingness to take risks
Comfortable when not working
Conflicts regarded as fair play
Lower stress, relaxed
Avoidance of too many rules and formalities
Expects to be creative in his or her duties
Lower centralization of tasks
Flexibility in contracts and processes
Emphasis on new ideas
Open for new things and changes
Low Context Culture
A language is a system for encoding and
In a High Context Culture, many things are left
unsaid and relationships value more
In Low Context Cultures words explicitly
convey the speaker´s message and a lot of
formal documentation is used.
What it means in Business and
Explicit verbal message expected
No reading between lines
Pragmatic communication preferred
To the Point Finns
Finland is a country where considerable weight is
attached to the spoken word - words are
chosen carefully and for the purpose of
delivering a message.
Finns place great value on words, which is reflected in
the tendency to say little and avoid 'unnecessary' small
“Puhuminen on hopeaa mutta
”Speech is silver but silence is gold.”
“Sanasta miestä, sarvesta härkää.”
"Take a man by his words and a bull by its
Finland is highly individualistic feminine culture that
appreciates quality of life and believes in equality
Not too social or too outgoing
It is very hard for a modest Finn to tell that his product
is the best in the world even if it is
Finns trust their subordinates and their partners
Education is highly appreciated
Finns are no. 5 in their English skills in the world
Own tribe in Finland, further from other Finns than Germans are
Survivers, naturally international business people, sharing, caring,
connecting, outgoing, laughing, dancing, singing
Over 400,000 people were evacuated over Finland’s new border
from the Karelian Isthmus, and Ladoga Karelia in 1943
Lappeenranta has grown partly due to the loss Vyborg
Warm, living people
When Western Finland touches the least in the world, Karelians
touch the most in Finland
2,5M Finns considers themselves Karelian heritage, appreciated
Finnish Epic Kalevala is collected from Karelia
1. Euphoria – The Honeymoon
(happiness and cheerful excitement)
2. Culture shock (unpleasant feelings,
3. Acculturation - Adjustment (adaptation
to the culture)
4. Stable state – Mastery, becoming
bicultural (positive, neutral or negative
If you talk to a man in his language he
understands, that goes to his head. If you
talk to him in his language, that goes to his
What is understood without
Simple Steps Around the World
Smile, the ultimate gesture understood
Follow the lead of the host
Read the facial expressions and body language
Shake hand adequately firmly for 3 seconds
Shake hand of ladies when offered
Accept the required distance
Undress when the host does
Remember your Manners
Listen more, speak to the point, never get excited
Cross legs from angles, don’t point with your shoes
Avoid handsigns and waving at people
Use simple words that will convey only the most
specific denotative meaning
Listen carefully and, if in doubt, ask for confirmation of
Respect the local communication formalities and
styles, and watch for any changes in body language
Show respect by learning a few words
Use the right symbols, colors, music, recognizable
elements when possible
Negotiations in Cross-Cultural
You will negotiating a job for yourself
The key to any negotiation is to understand the process
from the point of view of the other party
Four stages of negotiations:
Exchange of task-related information
Making concessions and agreement
Which should you focus on?
Make it as easy as possible for your employer
Make a good First Impression
We decide if we like someone or
something in less than quarter of
Proper appearance & manners,
positive attitude, open mind and a
smile always work the magic
Halo effect allows the positive
first impression to carry on to your
Verbal and nonverbal
Effectiveness in Finland
Arrive on time every for meetings, appointments: Finns
are on time
Everyone including Finns love smiling people
Offer a firm handshake !
Maintain eye contact
Speak clearly to the point to be understood
Remain neutral & polite, Finns do not like too aggressive
Use some Finnish
“Kädenpuristuksesta miehen tuntee.”
“You know the man by the way he
shakes your hand.”
Determinants of Your
Adjustment to another Culture
International vs. host
Willingness to communicate
What do you think are your competencies?
Determinants of Adjustment:
Culture novelty: the greater the harder
The Job: Role clarity, discretion, novelty, conflict
Adjustment to the organizational culture
study the organization
“Maassa maan tavalla.”
"Behave in every country according to their
Employment in Finland
Nobody shall be discriminated against on the basis of age, disability,
sexual orientation or origin
All work performed in Finland must be done in compliance with
Finnish law and international treaties binding upon the Finnish
Employment is also usually subject to a collective agreement
relevant for the sector, defining the rights and responsibilities of
employment in more detail. The purpose of these provisions is to
View on Gender
Men and women have equal rights and relatively high number of
women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of
Chauvinistic or patronizing attitudes are considered unacceptable
Finns have become accustomed to politically correct
language in which traditional masculine terms are
replaced with gender-neutral ones (e.g. 'chairperson')
In Finnish the third person singular pronoun hän covers
There are also many titles ending with the suffix –mies
(man) that are not considered gender-specific
Right to Work
Students have a limited right to work, 25 hours a week
You have full freedom to work at the times when your educational
institution offers no instruction.
You are granted 6 months to seek for employment after graduation
Infopankki gives easy steps on how to proceed when starting to
work in Finland at http://www.infopankki.fi/en/moving-tofinland/coming-to-work-in-finland
Finnish Immigration service provides information on working in
The rights of employees are supervised in Finland by:
the police (permits, right to reside in Finland, suspicion of
human trafficking) www.poliisi.fi
the occupational safety and health authorities (permits,
terms and conditions of employment)
the tax administration (combating the underground
If you are a citizen of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or
Switzerland you will not require a residence permit for Finland but
you must register at local Police station after residing three months.
Other nationalities can apply for a Finnish residence permit online
prior to their arrival and then visit Embassy with their original
documents and get the fingerprints: https://easiointi.migri.fi/eServices/FrontPage.aspx?ReturnUrl=
If you intend to work in Finland, you need a residence permit based
on employment, granted by the state of Finland. You need to visit
Lappeenranta police station in person for this.
Apply during the time your permit granted for studies (B permit) in
Finland is still valid.
If you have studied and completed a degree or other qualifications
in Finland, you may apply for a new residence permit based on the
job you have gained.
Your initial residence permit will be temporary based on your
If you change an employer, you need apply for another residence
After living and working four years in Finland you can apply for
permanent residence permit.
The employer and employee agree upon terms of employment in a
The contract should be in written form and contain at least the
following: the name of the employer /enterprise, the name of the
employee, the nature of the work, the starting date of the
employment, the duration of the employment, the notice period, the
trial period (max. 4 months), pay, and working hours.
Any agreement, which diminishes the rights and interests secured
for employees in the labour legislation and/or the collective
agreement, is void.
Regular working hours are usually at most 8 daily hours and 40
weekly hours. In a two week period the working hours are not more
than 80 hours and in a three week period 120 hours.
Each workplace must have a work schedule from which the workers’
regular working hours, beginning and ending times and the
placement of the rest periods can be read.
Each workplace has their record keeping system for employees’
Employees should also keep their own record of their worked hours
and received wages.
There is no universal minimum wage in Finland. The collective
agreement in most employment branches determines the pay and
other minimum employment terms. It is also possible to agree on
benefits such as food and residence in addition to the wage.
The wages in the collective agreements are determined according
to the employee’s professional skills, experience and the
geographical situation of the workplace (I and II cost regions).
You can ask about your place of employment’s collective unions
and join one.
After working for the same employer for at least a month, employees
have the right to receive sick-leave pay if they are unable to work
during to illness or injury. To be entitled to sick-leave pay the
working inability must be determined in a way satisfactory to the
employer (for ex. a doctors certificate).
Familiarise yourself with the collective agreement that applies to
The employer must have an agreement of occupational health
services with an occupational health service provider.
A foreign employee working for a Finnish employer in Finland is to
be insured by the employer with a mandatory accident insurance.
The insurance covers both accidents at work and on the journey to
If the daily working time is at least 6 hours the employee is given a
rest period of at least 30 minutes (lunch break).
Working hours exceeding the regular working hours are overtime
hours. Overtime is compensated with additional, higher pay: for the
first two daily hours of overtime normal pay is increased by 50% and
for the following hours by 100 %. Sunday work is paid with doubled
An employee has a right to receive pay also for the time he/she is
on annual holiday. Normally holiday leave accumulates 2 days
(when employment has lasted less than 1 year) or 2½ days for each
holiday credit month. Normal wages are paid for the time an
employee is on holiday.
More details at: http://www.tyosuojelu.fi/fi/workingfinland/
Bank Account - Pankkitili
In Finland all wages are paid via a bank transfer
Open an account in a local bank – Pankki if you have not yet
Passport or ID
Osuuspankki, Nordea, Danske pankki etc.
Tax Card - Verokortti
Apply for a tax card with the tax office of your living area
To use the internet service you need a bank account identity
Postal address: PL 21, 53101 Lappeenranta
Visiting address: Villimiehenkatu 2, Lappeenranta
Telephone: 020 612 000
Fax: 020 613 6058
Open Monday-Friday at 9–16.15
From 1.2.2014 Open Monday – Friday at 9–15
Receipt of documentation Monday-Friday at 8–16.15
Once you have a tax card, you take it to you employer
Your employer deducts the taxes and social security payments from
You will file a tax return form mailed to you in the beginning of the
year by its indicated deadline.
Apply for a Finnish KELA social security card
Kansaneläkelaitos KELA http://www.kela.fi/web/en
Holder of the card is entitled to use Finnish social security
Local office: Toikankatu 4, 53100 LAPPEENRANTA (near central
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 9.00-16.00
Or make an appointment: www.kela.fi/appointments
National Certificates of
Language Proficiency (YKI)
Finnish may be more or less required in your place of work.
National Certificates of Language Proficiency are language
proficiency tests intended for adults. They assess language skills in
practical situations where adults may generally need to speak, listen,
write or read in a foreign language – at home or abroad.
You can use the certificate
to demonstrate language proficiency in a job application
to demonstrate language proficiency required for work
as part of your studies
To demonstrate language proficiency required for acquisition of
Working with Finns
Punctuality is very important to the Finns. Never be late for
meetings, as this is considered very impolite in Finland. Be on time!
Diligence is expected. Follow your workhours strictly, ensure that
you have some more hours than required.
Hard-working, determined people are esteemed, have some “Sisu”.
Finns keep their promises and expect others to do the
same. Gain and keep trust!
Finnish society is very organized. Keep your work organized, follow
your company’s requirements for timekeeping, recordkeeping,
CRM-system, get the signatures when required.
Working with Finns
Finnish people may at first come across as rude or quiet. They say
Finns are very honest. Dishonesty is the worst sin of all to the Finns.
Remember to look Finns in the eye, looking down or to
the side is a sign of dishonesty in Finland.
Conversation is informal and people usually refer to each
other by their first names.
Finns mind their own business and respect other
Finns prefer not to show their feelings in public.
Working with Finns
Finnish people want to make the most of their time;
planning ahead and sticking to agreed schedules.
If you do not understand something, be brave and ask
about it! You will have fewer misunderstandings if you
talk about things openly and honestly. Finns like details.
Finns are careful and gather background information in
advance, but they make decisions quickly.
Power and responsibility are flexibly distributed. Men and women are
Working with Finns
Conflicts should be solved by negotiation, seeking a
result that is the best possible for all parties.
Work in cooperation, help and you will be helped.
Weekly meetings are typical, Finns like to move on with issues.
Finns do not thank much.
Go visit, communicate and ask for assistance if needed.
If no question is asked, the audience has probably understood.
Shake hands, don’t hug or kiss.
Pedestrians do not cross the street if the light is not
green even if there are no cars in sight
A Finnish driving license can often be substituted for an
existing foreign license:
Everyone travelling in a car must wear a seatbelt
There is a fine of 50 € for speaking to the mobile phone
You must use winter tiers from December till the end of
February, typically used October – April
Finns go to the sauna with their family, their friends and
even business partners and collegues.
Important political and business negotiations are
conducted in sauna.
Going to a sauna in Finland, even without clothes, has
nothing to do with sex – a sauna is a sacred place for the
Typical sauna days are Wednesday & Saturday.
Naked, towel allowed.
Below 90 C is cool.
You might be tested how long you last.
Vappu: Labour Day, May 1, white graduation caps,
Midsummer Fest, third weekend of June, bonfires
Independence Day, December 6, Finns like to watch the
President’s Ball on tv
”Pikkujoulut”: Little Christmas parties, extreme office
Christmas Eve, December 24, ham & casseroles, quiet
New Year, lively celebration with friends, tin horse shoes, sausages
& potato salad, champagne & fireworks
What did you learn today?
Look back at the intial note you wrote, did
you already understand the Finns?
What is the most important thing you
unlearned or learned today?
Tips for Living in Finland
Finns warm slowly, nice surprises when you get to know
them, friends for life.
When asked how you are, tell how you are, don’t say just fine.
SMS them: Finns like to do sms rather than talk.
Drink coffee: Finnish people drink coffee all the time everywhere,
meetings usually begin with a cup of coffee.
Few Good Words
Terve! – Hello!
Hei! – Hi!
Good Morning! – Hyvää huomenta!
Good Afternoon! – Hyvää päivää!
This is clear – selvä
So – noniin
Thank you - Kiitos
Good bye! – Näkemiin! Hei hei!
Toilet – vessa
Where? – Missä?
Cheers – Kippis! Hölökönkölökyn!
Who are you in Finnish
Who am I in Finnish?
How would your present yourself in Finnish?
Think of a sentence how to positively and professionally
introduce yourself to a potential employer.
They will remember what you say!
Ensure Positive Attitude
Focus on solutions; not the problems
Believe in yourself and you abilities
Display self-esteem & confidence
Choose to be happy and have more energy
Achieve your goals and succeed
Inspire and motivate yourself and others
How do I succeed in the World
I am genuinely interested in other
people and their needs and
communicate it clearly
I listen and understand the
spoken and unspoken words
I remain in touch to carry out the
discussed or promised activities