Four lessons UK businesses could learn from the Nordics
The Nordic countries regularly top the world happiness indexes, while also sitting at the top of lists measuring economy and productivity. It’s no wonder, then, that businesses around the world tend to look for inspiration in the business cultures of countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. As you would expect, there are many subtle and not-so-subtle differences between cultures in these countries. However, there are some common themes that businesses in the UK looking to innovate may want to take note of.
Less hierarchy, more democracy
Nordic businesses tend to be arranged in flat structures, with little respect for rigid hierarchies or displays of power. Fundamental to business in these countries is the idea of trust. Employees trust managers to keep their best interests at heart, and managers trust employees to act independently and get on with the job. Decision making is done in a democratic manner. In Sweden in particular, everyone is expected to have their say in company meetings.
Communication is key
Following the reduced importance of hierarchy, lines of communication in Nordic businesses tend to be short, with colleagues always able to confer with management. This leads to a generally informal culture – employees are usually on first name terms with management, and socialising with fellow colleagues is expected. If your Danish business associate suggests you grab a beer after work, it really would be rude not to!
Nordic countries tend to have a strong sense of ethics, with a low tolerance for corruption and high regard for environmental issues. A downside of this is that reaching a decision can sometimes take a long time, as each employee’s take on a matter is valued and the ethical impact of each decision is carefully weighed.
Benefits and welfare
Nordic countries are famous for their excellent benefits and strong welfare systems. Sweden, for example, has one of the most generous parental leave policies in the world. All employees in Denmark are entitled to five weeks of annual leave. And in Norway, a policy of transparency regarding salaries has lead to narrow wage gaps and strong pay equality. Higher taxes supports the strong welfare systems to minimise the fear of employment gaps for those not in work. These benefits and the security of the welfare systems have lead to happier employees and, in turn, more productive companies.
Nordic values are increasingly influencing businesses world-wide, and businesses form the Nordic region are highly regarded in the UK especially. If you are a Nordic business thinking about expanding into the UK, you should speak to us. We have been helping Nordic businesses successfully launch in the UK for 20 years and would love to help you too! Contact Goodwille today to find out more how we can help you get started on the UK market.