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Thread: Scandinavian Work Culture Is Better Than Yours — Here’s Why

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    Scandinavian Work Culture Is Better Than Yours — Here’s Why

    Leading up to last year’s presidential election, Bernie Sanders frequently spoke about how the United States were lagging behind in many fields, compared to the socialist’s wet dream Scandinavia. Sanders was especially fond of Denmark, and pointed out that the small Scandinavian country out-performed the US when it came to work benefits.

    Considering the abysmal first month of the president that Americans ended up with, things are not likely to change for the better. However, although American employees will not receive improved benefits it doesn’t have to stop American companies from improving their work culture.

    TNW reached out to Philip Hanson, a born and bred Minnesotan, who moved from the States to Copenhagen three years ago. Philip has long experience working in the tech industry in the US and now he’s currently the VP of marketing for Queue-it, a Danish company that specializes in managing virtual waiting rooms that enable companies to better handle website overload during extreme traffic peaks.

    For Philip, there is a tangible difference in the work atmosphere of Denmark compared to the States, that goes beyond differences in work benefits. Philip says that his view is predicated on his past experiences working in American tech companies, which was in no way negative, but he can see that there is a lot of room for improvement. Philip believes that Denmark’s advanced work culture is probably one of the factors that explain the country’s top ranking in world happiness reports and caught the attention of people like Bernie Sanders.

    Philip says that there is substantial trust between individuals in Danish workplaces and a true sense of equality. It is not an uncommon sight to see a CEO of a company cleaning coffee cups so that the custodian doesn’t have to. For Philip this is an indication of the high level of mutual respect between colleagues, regardless of level in an organization.

    Philip attributes this to ‘Jantelov’, a commonly known term in the Scandinavian countries. The term was originally created by the Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Andemose in his 1933 novel En flyktning krysser sitt spor. Sandmose created ten rules in his novel that defined ‘Jantelov’, which can be summed up as an idea of equality where individuals shouldn’t think themselves as being any better than the rest of the community. The ‘Jantelov’ mentality is not about making yourself any lesser, instead it should encourage you to see other people’s value.

    This might seem silly — and even a touch communist — for Americans who have been taught the value of the individual’s efforts in realizing the American dream, but Philip feels that there are benefits to be gained by adopting the ‘Jantelov’ perspective. “When you work in that way it informs a level of trust, which is one of the great things of working here in Denmark. People trust that you are doing your job well and you can trust that when you receive feedback that the person means it” says Philip.

    Instead of having to earn trust, employees are trusted from the beginning by their superiors, which makes the atmosphere more relaxed and open. This is a crucial aspect of improving work environment, according to Philip, as it can prevent misunderstandings and minimize unnecessary office politics.

    Philip enjoys the “you say what you mean, and you mean what you say” attitude in Danish workplaces — made possible by the “Jantelov” mentality — and feels that this could benefit American companies. “It helps clear the air and it limits the amount of politicking that happens — which is an area where employees lose a lot of energy and focus”, says Philip.

    Almost everyone would probably agree that the less politics in the workplace the better. It can be especially cumbersome for small startups, where it is essential to make the best out of the resources that are at their disposal. To get the most out of the employees it is import of providing an environment where people feel free to express the selves. For Philip, ‘Jantelov’ is one of the ways to achieve that.

    Balancing work and personal life

    Surveys have suggested that people around the globe are having more difficulties balancing work and personal life. This is an increasing problem and many governments have acknowledged there is need for further action. As of this year, companies in France that have more than 50 employees have been ordered to implement “the right to disconnect” to reduce stress and help people balance work and personal life.

    Meanwhile, most American workers are still expected to have email alerts turned on 24/7, which means that you are always technically at work. For Philip, this means that employees might be less focused. There isn’t any legislation in Denmark that dictates how connected people should be in their free time, but the general consensus is that you leave work at the office.

    “People are really focused here and put in time really effectively while they’re at work, because when they go home, they can focus on their personal life: family, hobbies, etc.” says Philip. This doesn’t mean that people don’t put in overtime, but it is kept within reason. “The push and pull is more fluid here in Denmark,” explains Philip, “we have a lot of business with America so we often start our day later since we are staying into the evening”. Keeping overtime within reason, and find an equilibrium together with the employees, helps to keep them more motivated.

    Looking through the Scandinavian lens

    When asked whether he thinks that the Scandinavian work culture can be applied to American companies, Philip is in no doubt that it is possible. There is an urgency for growth in the tech industry and one of the main problems that businesses face is how to make that growth sustainable. Philip points out that many major tech companies in the US are at the forefront of progressive work cultures and implementing policies similar to Scandinavia, such as family leave.

    Philip says that he can easily see how the work culture in Denmark could improve the companies he has worked for in the past and also how it could have improved his performance. “It is a lens to look through and it provides a lot of clarity,” says Philip and adds that it “can help you to see the big picture and see what is of value to you”.

    All this being said, it doesn’t mean that American work ethic isn’t impressive, and Philip happily admits that Scandinavian companies are usually eager to hire Americans because of it. However, Scandinavians realize that the cons might outweigh the pros of American work culture, at least in the long run.

    In Philip’s experience, employee retention is much less in America than in Denmark which can make it harder to sustain growth. Therefore, the American system might be better in the short-term, but the Scandinavian system is probably better for long-term growth. Looking through the ‘Jantelov’-tinged Scandinavian lens could help people improve their workplaces. Adapting ‘Jantelov’ means boosting morale by acknowledging others’ work effort, communicating clearly on a peer-level and take everyone’s needs into account.

    Maybe Americans weren’t ready to take the plunge into socialism with Bernie, but would calling it ‘Jantelov’ make it easier to adopt?
    https://thenextweb.com/business/2017...er-than-yours/

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    Danish Business Culture Ranked Easiest in the World

    Danes have every reason to celebrate! The Business Culture Complexity Index™ has ranked Denmark as having the easiest business culture among the top 50 economies of the world.

    Let’s discover how this tiny western European country, famous for Lego, butter, bacon and Carlsberg beer, has created a culture, that according to the data, is open, trusting, transparent and open for business!

    In this blog, we’ll look at the statistics and explain how Denmark managed to top the Business Culture Complexity Index™ 2019 Table.

    So, Why Danish Business Culture?

    To understand how the Danes managed to top the table, let’s look at the data and see what it might be able to tell us about the business culture.

    The BCCI’s algorithm pulls from the following 14 data sources. If you would like to, you can also download the raw data here.

    1. Trust in Others
    • This set of data measures levels of interpersonal trust around the world.
    • An impressive 66% of Danes believe people can be trusted, making them the most trusting people in the world.
    • Trust is a cornerstone of Danish culture, and this follows through into the business culture where people take things at face value.

    2. Happiness
    • This data from the World Happiness Report measures the levels of happiness within a country.
    • Danes are among the happiest people in the world (7.6) ; only the Finns are happier (7.7).
    • Danish society and culture are socially conscious, meaning that priority is given to basics such as standards of living, food, leisure, etc.

    3. Internet Use
    • This data measures the levels of internet penetration within a country.
    • Denmark, for 2019, has reached an impressive 96.96% internet penetration rate which helps account for its status as one of the most digital countries in the world.
    • This signals a business culture where time, transparency and convenience are prioritised.

    4. Religiosity
    • This data from Pew Research measures the levels of religiosity within a country.
    • Denmark was among the lowest scoring countries in this regard meaning Danes are not very religious at all.
    • Countries in which religion and religious identity are important usually mean they are much more group orientated, i.e. they are much more difficult to penetrate. Denmark on the other hand does not have these religious/group binds.

    5. Ease of Doing Business
    • The EODB data uses multiple data sources to come up with its own score as to how easy it is to do business in a country (practically speaking).
    • For 2019, Denmark was ranked the 3rd easiest country in the world to do business. It's also the easiest place in Europe.
    • The data points to a commercial culture based on the principles of freedom and ease, as opposed to laws, red tape and control.

    6. Economic Freedom
    • The Index of Economic Freedom measures 12 sets of information around personal, social and economic freedoms.
    • For 2019, Denmark was ranked 3rd in the league table, reflecting the points above around ease of doing business
    • As per above, this points to a healthy commercial environment underpinned by a culture that values liberty.

    7. Corruption
    • Transparency International’s Corruption Index measuring the perceived corruption in a country’s public services.
    • Denmark ranked the highest – meaning its population believe they have the least corruption in their society.
    • A commercial culture in which corruption barely features, usually points to an open way of doing business, in which contracts, laws and agreements govern how things get done, as opposed to who you know and having to get around bureaucracy.

    8. Press Freedom
    • Reporters Without Borders measure the amount of freedom granted to the press and media.
    • Denmark had one of the best scores, only beaten by other Nordic countries surrounding it.
    • A free press is linked to a free society and a free society to a culture in which personal freedoms and liberties are prioritised; this extends into the business culture too.

    9. Human Development Index
    • The HDI measures factors such as standard of living, education and life expectancy in a country.
    • Scoring 0.929, Denmark is within the top bracket of countries where the general standards of living are high for the population.
    • This points to a society in which public services, employment, health care, etc are functional and take the human experience seriously.

    10. Tourist Arrivals
    • Tracked by UNTWO, this data captures the number of tourists that visit a country.
    • In 2019, Denmark had 10,781,000 tourist arrivals – not huge numbers, but remember it’s a small country!
    • What this shows is that the Danes are used to dealing with foreigners; their business culture is well exposed to the outside world.

    11. Literacy
    • Official literacy rates of literacy within a country, give us an idea about levels of education.
    • Denmark has a 99% literacy rate.
    • An educated population, well-informed and culturally-skewed towards data, logic and reason.

    12. Position in World Economy
    • This ranks how important the country is within the global economy.
    • Denmark ranked 37th, which for a small nation is impressive.
    • Danish business is clearly doing something right in order to be among the top 50 economies of the world.

    13. Embeddedness
    • This data which has more of a cross-cultural aspect to it measures how group orientated a country is.
    • Denmark scored 3.19 which is on the low side, meaning they are not a very group conscious culture.
    • Danish business culture is therefore a bit more ‘open’ in that there is less of a sense of outsider/insider in terms of how business gets done and who by.

    14. Egalitarianism
    • This data draws on the same research as above (Schwartz) and measures how much emphasis is placed on independence and equality within a country.
    • Denmark scored 5.03 making it one of the least hierarchical countries, i.e. these are a people that really stress an ‘everyone is equal’ doctrine.
    • In terms of the business culture, we see this expressed in the very flat organisational structures, which again make it that little bit more ‘open’ than in other cultures where hierarchies govern how, when and where things get done.

    Is Danish Business Culture the Easiest?

    For some people it might be, others not.

    It’s all relative and depends on your own culture. What is easy to one culture, may be a nightmare to another and vice-versa.

    Remember a) the Danes are only the easiest out of the top 50 economies of the world, and b) are only the easiest according to the algorithm used against a certain set of data.

    • The data shows that the Danes are very trusting of others, with one of the highest trust scores.
    • As a society they are one of the happiest, pointing to a well-functioning country that looks after its citizens, provides jobs, welfare, etc. This is also reflected in Denmark’s scores in areas such as the Human Development Index.
    • The lack of religiosity perhaps points to a more open culture when it comes to dealing with outsiders and a less collective and protective approach to business and commercial relationships.
    • Scores for Ease of Doing Business, Economic Freedom, Press Freedom and Corruption are excellent, again pointing to a more transparent commercial environment providing minimal barriers to entry.
    • Culturally-speaking, the data points to an egalitarian culture, where hierarchies are relatively flat, perhaps reflected in its to relatively relaxed business culture.
    • Denmark’s leaning towards individual responsibility explains the greater emphasis placed on values such as rule of law, fairness and equality which in themselves are also expressed in the way business is done.

    Firstly, What’s The Business Culture Complexity Index™?

    The BCCI uses data to assess the potential complexity or ease of a country’s business culture.

    It scores the business cultures of the top 50 economies of the world according to a specific algorithm created in conjunction with a team of mathematicians.

    The algorithm pulls on 14 different sources covering social, cultural and economic data from sources such as Pew Research, The UN and the World Bank and academic research into cultural differences carried out by Scwartz.

    The scores are presented using a league table and world heat map. For 2019, Denmark was ranked the easiest, Nigeria the most complex.
    commisceo-global.com/blog/danish-business-culture-easiest-in-the-world

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