Sweden is a preferred location for many SAP consultants thanks to its working culture of employee well-being, higher salaries and rewarding lifestyle, as well as being a hub of activity for start-ups.
Working culture in Sweden
The health and safety of the employees is central to business in Sweden, supported by labour unions, anti-discrimination legislation and by the Swedish Work Environment Authority. Companies look after their employees work-life balance and encourage them to take their holiday allowance which usually consists of four to six weeks a year, plus 16 bank holidays. Many companies also shut down completely in July.
Sweden is very family friendly and employees tend to have flexibility to work from home, leave early to pick up their children from school or take days off to look after them when they are ill. Having flexibility at work also means people are very efficient in the workplace and would rather leave the chit-chat for a coffee break. Drawing a line between business and social activity is a sign of professionalism, you won’t often see colleagues socialising together outside of work.
Swedish culture believes in egalitarism, a concept that means everyone is equal and society thrives for collective well-being over individual success, therefore displays of wealth or achievement can be taken unfavourably. Egalitarism in the workplace means both women and men are respected at the same level and reporting lines are flat – it’s common to see the CEO working alongside employees in an open-plan office and decisions are taken through a consensus process, leading to lots of short meetings, a long time for decision-making and meetings to agree when the next meeting will be! Swedes rarely use “yes” or no”, and rather use “it depends”, “maybe” or “I’ll see what I can do”.
The dress code in Sweden is relaxed and this extends to the workplace. Offices are usually smart-casual, leaving the suits for important board meetings or when meeting with foreign clients.
Although meetings are casual, there are a few rules to observe:
- Punctuality and keeping emotions under controls are a sign of professionalism.
- People in a working environment greet each other by shaking hands.
- Must respect silences or conversations as this means an idea is being considered.
- Do speak about business straight away.
- Sweden is one of the countries with the lowest levels of corruption in the world, therefore transparency and honesty are vital attributes.
- Gifts can be considered inappropriate.
We have a strong local presence in Sweden placing SAP professionals in permanent and contract jobs for clients requiring various SAP technologies including C4C, ABAP and S/4HANA.
The working week for most SAP roles in Sweden is usually five days, especially when working for a governmental organisation e.g. in the energy sector. For the private sector it could vary depending on the company; a popular working structure includes three days on site and two days working remotely, giving consultants flexibility and opportunity to spend time at home. “Trial and hire” roles – a concept where consultants work for a company for six months as a trial with the hope of being hired permanently – are also very popular in Sweden.
Salaries and daily rates
SAP salaries and daily rates are quite high in comparison to mainland Europe and tend to be paid in Swedish Krona (SEK), the local currency, but some companies pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. Contracts tend to be on an all-inclusive rate and very rarely include accommodation, flights or relocation for this reason.
Income tax in Sweden
As an SAP contractor, you can work up to 180 days a year in Sweden without paying Swedish tax – one of the main reasons SAP consultants love working under contract in this region. Be aware you might still need to pay tax in your country of origin.
When in a permanent position as an SAP consultant, income tax is quite high, usually between 50-57 %, but these are returned in exceptional social benefits that include free education for all children ages 6 to 19, free university for EU/EEA and Swiss nationals, free childcare, monthly allowance for children, 18 months parental leave per child which can be distributed between both parents, pre and post-natal care, paid sick leave at 80 percent from day two and very low healthcare costs, not to mention the safety, cleanliness and great work-life balance across the country. As an SAP consultant, you should still be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle despite the high income tax rate.
The tax system is simple and straightforward, and income tax is deducted directly from your monthly salary. If everything is in order in your annual tax declaration, reporting your taxes can be as simple as sending a text message to the Swedish Tax Agency.
Sweden is known as a country that supports entrepreneurship and innovation and its capital Stockholm is a hub for start-ups, with successful companies like IKEA and Spotify originating in the country. Stockholm is also the home to King’s offices (maker of Candy Crush and many more mobile games), famous for its carousels and indoor forest. Popular industries with requirements for SAP consultants are manufacturing, energy, oil and gas.
The majority of the SAP jobs are in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. If you live in Denmark near Copenhagen, commuting to Malmo for work could also be a good option as this can be easily achieved by crossing the Malmo-Copenhagen “Øresund” Bridge. The journey takes about 35 minutes and costs around €54 by car or €10 by train.
Nationalities and languages
Both Swedish and English are the business languages in Sweden – you’ve probably noticed that most of our SAP jobs in Sweden require English-speaking consultants. However, clients in Sweden prefer SAP consultants with Scandinavian or European citizenship as they do not require working visas. This is a great opportunity for any Europeans wanting to work in the Nordics and enjoy its high salaries and daily rates.
Swedish companies also often look for SAP consultants with Scandinavian languages, and as not all skills can always be found locally, this is a great opportunity for Scandinavian citizens who have lived in another country for a number of years and are looking to return to their homeland.
Learning some Swedish before moving to the country can help you find your place in the community and adapt to their way of life, but if this isn’t possible, you can sign up to free Swedish courses once you register in Sweden.
Work permits and visas
Citizens of the European Union and Nordic countries can live, study and work in Sweden without a residence permit and can also start and operate their own private business in the country. They are only required to register to obtain a Swedish personal identity number through the Swedish Tax Agency.
Citizens from Switzerland can work and live in Sweden for three months without registering, after this period they’ll require a residence permit. Family members of EU and Swiss citizens who are able to support themselves financially in Sweden are also able to join you. Non EU-citizen relatives will need to apply for a residence card once in the country.
Citizens of non-EU countries must apply for a work permit. There are some criteria they will need to meet to be able to be granted the work permit such as have received an offer of employment that matches the Swedish regulations and a minimum monthly pay stated by the government. Swiss companies must be able to prove that the job they are offering was previously advertised in the EU/EEA for at least ten days. Once in the country you’ll be able to register for a residence permit card at the Migration Agency.
Citizens of certain countries require also a visa. Citizens with long-term resident status in an EU Country, can apply for an EU residence permit in that country, which could speed up the process.
When applying for a work permit, immigration laws allow you to apply for residence permits for your spouse or registered partner, and children under 21. Anyone with a work permit can start to work or study right away and once in the country, you can apply for an extension if your work permit is about to expire.
Cost of living
Prices are relatively high in Sweden, especially when visiting as a tourist but when earning in Swedish Krona, life is affordable. You can find price comparisons for rent, food and leisure in Sweden here.
Housing is usually expensive, but it is still around 10% cheaper than in the United Kingdom. As Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities, many people prefer to live in the suburbs. The housing market can be competitive, especially in big cities like Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg, therefore arrange this as soon as possible.
Driving and transport in Sweden
Driving licenses from EEA countries, as well as from Switzerland and Japan are valid in Sweden and can be exchanged for a Swedish driving license. Driving licenses from any other countries are only valid for up to a year and can only be used on their own if they are written in English, German or French, otherwise, they’ll require need to be translated.
In big cities, you’ll find great transport networks, which although expensive, are cheaper than buying and maintaining a car. There are also daily and weekly passes that make it more cost-effective.
Sweden is a very family-orientated country with balanced rights for women and men. It is common to see women running businesses and men pushing prams in the park and socialising with other fathers, and vice versa. You’ll find lots of baby-friendly public areas, nursing rooms and changing tables in shared bathrooms and playgrounds and parks with sections dedicated to children. You’ll also find that kids are permitted much more freedom than in other countries and they are thought to be independent from a young age and use public transport on their own.
Swedes are often described as reserved and there is also an unwritten code of conduct in Sweden known as “lagom” which means “just enough”, “in moderation” or “appropriate”, which fosters a culture of respect and consideration for other people.
Swedes typically enjoy the outdoors and they exercise their Right of Public access, a right to roam freely in the countryside and even camp overnight. Swedes also enjoy ice hockey and attending the annual song competitions known as Melodiefestivalen.
Literature is big in Sweden. There are thousands of books published for children and teenagers every year and child-specific libraries around the country that also offer activities such as painting, crafts and sing-alongs.
A few social rules that will help you adapt to the life in Sweden:
- Punctuality is very important, not just at work but also in social life, as it is considered good manners.
- Queuing is part of Swedish culture. You’ll find that many businesses have ticketing systems, whether they are grocery stores or governmental offices.
- When visiting someone’s home, make sure you take your shoes off at the door.
- When at the till, groceries should be lined up with the barcode facing up and towards you, and they should never be stacked.
- Day-to-day life in Sweden is pretty much cashless, everyone pays with debit cards or through mobile apps.
- Sweden is a green country, which means they are serious about protecting the environment. Ensure you follow the recycling rules and take your own plastic bags when going to the supermarket.
Swedes love coffee and they traditionally meet with friends, family or colleagues at least once a day to enjoy “fika”, the tradition of drinking tea or coffee and something sweet on the side as an opportunity to bond with others.
Popular foods are Swedish meatballs, fish and lingoberry jam, which is used in a variety of dishes. Cinammon buns are also traditional and they even have their annual Cinnamon Bun Day!
Alcohol is legal in Sweden but can only be purchased in the government-owned liquor stores, restaurants and bars. It isn’t available in supermarkets.
Winters can be cold and dark, with temperatures below zero and a small amount of hours of sunlight (only three hours a day in the northern area), this however is a great time to experience dog sledding, skiing, ice skating or travelling around the country to see the aurora borealis or travel to neighbouring Finland to visit Lapland.
In contrasts, Summer are very warm and the days are long – a great opportunity to do activities after work and visit the lovely Swedish beaches or even exploring beauty in other Nordic countries, like the Fjords in Norway.
We have clients across the Nordics and a large network of active candidates we regularly place in contract and permanent roles. Browse our current vacancies:
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