The makings of a successful culture mix
Every sixth employee at Capgemini Finland has a different home country than Finland. We employ around 70 people with Indian origin, and have other brilliant people from different European countries, South America, Middle East, and Asia, to name a few.
With the diversity that we have, it is super important for us to find a balance between shared ways of working and space for the cultural differences to shine. Culture clashes are part of the deal. They shouldn’t be feared, but rather taken as learning opportunities.
In the Finnish working culture, I really value how people respect others’ time and personal life. It feels very supportive, too. Managers are open to discuss and help with personal issues and other questions that may be completely outside of their scope.
What to expect from the Finnish working culture
Sometimes – quite understandably – aspects of the Finnish working culture may come as a surprise to foreign employees who have perhaps just moved to the country. Having been named the happiest country in the world for five consecutive years indicates that many of our local virtues are worth embracing.
Here are a few characteristics of Finnish work life that may surprise you when joining the team from abroad. These are also things we want to hold on to.
Low or even completely flat organizational hierarchy
Low hierarchy is the norm in Finnish organizations. This means that it is everyday life for employees with different seniority levels and positions to come together and be equally valued for their expertise and opinions.
We encourage and expect everyone to think and innovate on their own, without being constrained by strict boundaries. Managers are still needed, but we want to keep the relationship between them and subordinates as level as possible. It should be easy for you to approach people in potentially higher pay grades or in completely different domains.
“The best prize for successful cultural integration is an improved ability to innovate as a team. A multicultural community will always perform better in terms of ideas and progress than a homogeneous one, so allowing cultures to flourish is a high priority for us.”
– Paula Romanainen, Mobility & CSR Country Lead
Punctuality and directness
Another usual source of mild cultural clashes is the highly punctual nature of Finnish people. For Finns, a marked deadline means that it really is the deadline you are expected to achieve. The same goes for start times of meetings and so on.
Many cultures are different in this sense, and for you it may be completely normal to be 10 minutes or one day late. Sometimes delays happen, and that is normal. But in these cases, know that your Finnish colleague will expect to get a notice in advance.
There is a definite priority given to personal life and it’s well respected by everyone which is great. I’ve learned that Finnish people are punctual, but that a deep conversation with someone you don’t know that well doesn’t happen in a heartbeat.
Working hours and work-life balance
The normal weekly work time in Finland – and in our team – is 37,5 hours. This means that you are expected to work on average 7,5h per day. There are always situations when flexibility is needed; perhaps a project needs to be delivered with some extra hours.
However, life is so much more than work. We expect everyone to pay attention to their work life balance to ensure sufficient recovery. This is related to the high autonomy in managing your time and work – and has become even more important in the era of hybrid work.
I have been surprised by how early the workday begins and ends – and that we tend to have lunch before noon!
Helping foreign employees integrate and feel included
So, how do we make sure that everyone who joins the team – no matter where they come from – feels welcomed and included from day one? Here are some forms of support that we provide to new recruits and their families:
- Cultural awareness training as part of the onboarding
- Get togethers are organized in English and everyone is encouraged to join
- Finnish language skills only required when absolutely necessary for the job
- Support for Finnish language studies
- Afterwork style Culture Cafés where we learn to know different cultures
- Collaboration with IWWOF
- Help with practical arrangements (government officials, housing, banking etc.)
- Finding ways to help the employees’ families integrate
I appreciate the activities that the company organizes in order to familiarize international joiners with the local culture. I have been supported as much as I could have expected – in fact in some cases above and beyond that.
Our goal is to create one shared culture where common ground rules guide work-related decisions, and where everyone gets to improve our collective ability to excel with their unique personal background.
“Integration needs to happen before anyone can feel included. That’s why we pay attention to supporting each new foreign employee on their first days in Finland.”
Got a question? Get in touch
Paula Romanainen, Mobility & CSR Country Lead