5 facts about Scandinavian work culture

The Scandinavians are seen as one of the happiest people in the world. This image is due to the belief that the Nordic countries have a specific work culture that promotes the creation of the sense of happiness and ensures a high quality of life.

Here are 5 facts about the Scandinavian work culture and Arla can definitely relate to all of them!

1. The happiest employees in the world – according to the Global Workforce Happiness Index report, among all countries in the world included in the survey, the highest level of job satisfaction was recorded in three Scandinavian countries: Denmark; Norway; Sweden. An important strength of the Scandinavian work culture is the perfect balance of team collaboration and individual responsibility. Also, it is a norm in the Scandinavian work culture to care for the well-being of employees. First example which comes to my mind from Arla is that we can easily use lunch and coffee breaks and our 30 minutes lunch break is included in our working hours. Superiors trust in their employees – so they don’t worry about overusing this opportunity.

2. The Scandinavian countries are dominated by a „soft” management style. The organizational structure is characterized by a flat hierarchy – all employees are treated with the same respect, regardless of their role. The manager is just part of the team. The Scandinavian work culture focuses on striving for understanding, effective and friendly cooperation and good relations.

3. Work life balance – the Scandinavian work culture is related to the observance of work-life balance. The norm is to separate work and private life and stick to the set limits – overtime is rare here. On the other hand, flexibility is dominant in terms of the hours in which the work is performed. At Arla we can start working between 7am and 9am and finish between 3pm and 5pm, which is just great either if you prefer to sleep longer or have more spare time in the afternoon!

4. Celebrating often with everyone – As Scandinavian businesses operate under a flat management structure, every time there’s cause for celebration within the company, everybody gets involved. This inclusivity helps employees to feel valued and connected, which in turn fosters loyalty and happiness in the workplace. When employees are recognized and appreciated for their good work, they’re more likely to respond to this positive reinforcement by continuing to work hard and do their best. Now due to pandemic we mainly work from home, however we truly miss all of these cake celebrations in our office!

5. Caring for a positive employee experience is a must in Scandinavian work culture. Here are Arla’s examples of the actions we take in order to build a friendly workplace for our employees:

  • Internal involvement in CSR – a strong emphasis on pro-ecological projects
  • Taking care of the health and condition of employees, promoting a healthy lifestyle
  • Investing in employee development
  • Cooperation with university career offices, organizing internships and apprenticeships
  • Arranging office space in such a way as to maximize the comfort of work, while creating a positive showcase for the company
  • Caring for a friendly atmosphere
  • Strengthening individual strengths of employees
  • Flattened hierarchy – each role is considered valuable to the organization
  • „Soft”, friendly style of management
  • Promoting employees’ initiative to introduce changes in the organization to make it an even better place
  • Fair development policy: promotion on the basis of competences and achievements

To sum it up: the basis of the Scandinavian work culture is a deep trust and respect. The dominant belief is that a happy employee works with the greatest commitment. In view of the factors mentioned in the article, it is not surprising that Scandinavian employees report the highest level of job satisfaction. It should also come as no surprise that people who have experienced work in a Scandinavian organization, in a situation of readiness to change, very often look for opportunities for further development within the described work culture. We are not surprised! 😊