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Five ways international teams are succeeding in Sweden

If you're an international resident working for a Swedish company or running your own business, you're sure to have considered the case for increasing workplace diversity.

Five ways international teams are succeeding in Sweden
Photo: Getty Images

You may even have found through personal experience that combined perspectives from different nationalities, genders and cultural backgrounds can create stronger teams. But you may not be aware that a growing amount of research strongly supports the idea that greater diversity boosts business results.

Together with Undutchables, a pioneer in international business recruitment, we take a look at five reasons why it’s a good idea to make diversity a central factor in the search for your next employee or colleague.

Learn more about Undutchables and how it could help you diversify your workplace with international talent across a range of industries

1. It allows you to think differently and make better decisions

If your company comprises many different backgrounds, you’ll naturally have a broader range of perspectives to draw upon when strategizing – from a team level, right up to senior management. In recent years, a significant amount of research has backed up the idea that greater diversity has clear benefits in terms of decision-making.

The Henderson Institute, part of the Boston Consulting Group, has gathered a number of examples in their ‘Diversity at Work’ report. The report says that diversity is crucial in enabling organisations to “thrive in the face of uncertainty and change” because it supports resilience and adaptiveness.

Put simply, if your business or employer doesn’t have a sufficient number of different viewpoints to consider, it risks losing the ability to make the right decisions to overcome problems. You might say that a more diverse working environment can act as an insurance policy against future challenges.

2. It helps you understand your customers

Anyone who works in a customer-facing role knows that consumers don’t come in one shape or size. In the era of globalization, there is no industry or field of business with only one generic customer type. If you’re sending your products around the world – or even just into highly international cities, such as Stockholm – customer insights across all demographics are vital.

Incorporating a wide variety of backgrounds within your teams can therefore help to give you a keen insight into different markets. Why rush to carry out extensive focus-testing of a product before having a few simple conversations with colleagues who know their own home markets intimately?

This can save time and resources that could be better used elsewhere. Better yet, it can save your difficulties down the line as branding can sometimes take on very different or even offensive meanings when appearing in new cultural contexts. Avoid your own business faux pas with the involvement of your own diverse workforce.

Find out how you can attract international talent to your workplace – start a conversation with Undutchables today

3. It inspires innovation and creativity

Sweden ranks highly for innovation. But as every innovator knows, there’s never any room for complacency if you want to remain at the cutting edge. 

Business experts support the view that increasing diversity is a surefire way to increase innovation. Boston Consulting Group found that companies with “above-average diversity” in management teams had innovation-driven revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with “below-average leadership diversity”.

Photo: Getty Images

Time and time again, highly international and diverse cities – such as New York, London and Singapore – score highly in global rankings of innovation and business development. An environment that incorporates multiple viewpoints, backgrounds and ways of working will mean that the strongest, most resilient ideas win out.

Whether you’re a hiring manager or an employee, helping to ensure that your workplace embraces a wide range of identities, backgrounds and nationalities can create the kind of ‘melting pot’ that encourages innovation.

4. It helps with keeping hold of talented workers

The idea of workplace culture being entirely dictated by one prevailing background is one that has had its heyday. It simply doesn’t reflect the realities of the modern world. If your co-workers feel valued for the range of skills and ways of thinking that their background affords them, they are more likely to do their best work and be more productive.

There’s also evidence that greater diversity reduces employee turnover, helping employers to retain talented individuals for longer.

Undutchables helps both those starting out and executive candidates to advance their careers in Sweden and the Netherlands. If you’re hiring in Sweden, this means it can provide highly-trained international personnel who speak your clients’ language and understand their culture.

5. It helps you stand out (especially with younger generations)

Many businesses say they have a commitment to diversity, but as Peter Boerman wrote in a blog for Undutchables this year, few companies actually set hard targets. Hiring managers who do so could help to make their business a preferred employer – especially with today’s younger generation, for whom a commitment to diversity is the norm.

If your workplace can show that it is truly committed to having a diverse workforce by setting and meeting its own targets, Millennials and members of Generation Z could be much more likely to accept a role. With businesses looking for stability after the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, embracing diversity could make the difference between struggling to survive and finding ways to thrive.

Ready to diversify your workplace? Learn more about Undutchables – and find out about its recruitment services for employers looking for multilingual international talent.

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EXPLAINED: Will Swedish housing prices plummet as interest rates rise?

The Swedish financial supervisory authority warned on Wednesday that rising interest rates could lead to house prices falling "quite sharply". How likely is it that this will happen?

EXPLAINED: Will Swedish housing prices plummet as interest rates rise?

What financial circumstances might make it difficult for borrowers to repay loans?

With an increase in the cost of living, including rising interest rates and rising electricity prices, there are plenty of circumstances that may make it difficult for borrowers – especially those holding large debts in relation to their income – to repay their mortgages.

Households with large debts are therefore more sensitive to an increase in interest rates, according to the Swedish financial supervisory authority, known in Swedish as Finansinspektionen (FI).

The agency published its annual Swedish Mortgage Market report on Wednesday.

“Large debts also mean a higher sensitivity if you were to suffer unemployment during an extensive recession,” said Henrik Braconier, the authority’s chief economist.

Other factors that could stretch borrowers’ finances include rising energy prices, higher food prices, and growing inflation.

“Apples, oranges, tomatoes have gone up by 30 percent,” said Américo Fernández, a household economist at SEB. “Wheat is coming from Ukraine and it’s getting harder and harder to get hold of.”

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Will homeowners become unable to repay their mortgage loans?

Not according to Fernández.

“One of the last things Swedish households will fail to make their payments on is their mortgage and their houses,” he said. “They would rather decrease their spending on vacations abroad, or restaurants.”

The FI report noted that most new mortgages include margins that allow for fluctuations in the borrower’s finances. This means that mortgage holders have a cushion that allows them to handle financial changes.

“Our stress test shows that they can handle increases in the interest rate and also loss of income,” said Magnus Karlsson, FI’s director of macroanalysis. “New mortgages have margins in them calculating discretionary income, and will be able to absorb increases in interest rates and loss of income.”

SEB foresees an interest rise of up to three percent over the next two years, Fernández said,an increase that can be absorbed by most households.

Both Fernández and Karlsson agreed that if homeowners have to cut back on spending, those cuts will not come from debt repayment, but from their disposable income – the money they might ordinarily spend on entertainment, eating out, or travelling.

So while household spending may have to change, financial stability is not at stake for most households.

What’s going on with the housing market?

Right now, a record number of mortgage-holders have loans that are worth more than 4.5 times their income. This year, more than 14 percent of new mortgagors took on such large loans, compared to 6.3 percent last year.

A “low interest rate, increase in housing prices, increase in disposable real income and a housing market that is not functioning well” are all factors in the large debts that homeowners have incurred today, Karlsson argued.

Fernández noted that there is an imbalance between the low supply of housing and the high demand for housing, which is in part responsible for the high housing prices we see today.

He said a decrease in price of a few percentage points would not be surprising: “We’re coming from two years of exaggerated prices.”

Will housing prices begin to decrease after two years of increasing prices?

Calculations for three different scenarios tested by FI show that housing prices will decrease, Karlsson said.

While the agency does not predict housing prices, its report shows that under three different scenarios – the first an increase in mortgage interest rate, the second an increase in energy prices, and the third a combination of the first two with a reversal to pre-pandemic housing preferences – prices will decrease.

The Local Sweden reported last year about increasing housing costs in Sweden, spurred on in part by a desire for bigger homes further away from urban areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernández called the two years of increasing housing costs “surprising.”

“10-12 percent two years in a row, that’s historical in these uncertain times,” he said, noting that prices were still increasing in figures for March this year.

What sorts of housing will see the largest price decrease?

The FI report also included various scenarios of how the price of different types of housing may fluctuate based on changes in the interest rate.

One scenario assumed a 1 percent increase in interest rates this year and a 0.5 percent increase next year, and predicted that while the price of apartments owned in a cooperative – called bostadsrätter – would fall only slightly, the price of detached houses would fall by 10 percent.

Another calculation that accounted for rising electricity prices and a decline in new housing purchases found that the price of bostadsrätter and detached houses risked falling by an average of 30 percent.

Is there a plan to let borrowers end their mortgage terms early?

“We believe it needs to be simpler and more inexpensive for households to repay their mortgages early,” FI Director General Erik Thedéen is quoted as saying in a press release published by the agency on Wednesday.

To that end, Thedéen said at a press conference that the agency had sent a request to the government to change the calculation model for how banks are compensated when mortgages are terminated early.

“When you terminate a loan agreement and the bank incurs costs, it must be reimbursed,” Thedéen said. “But at present the banks are overcompensated, that is what our calculations show. If the government follows our line and changes the model and follows our line, then the banks must simply adapt.”

When asked about the likelihood of this request being granted, FI recommended reaching out to the Ministry of Justice for comment.

What does this mean for foreigners in Sweden?

If you’re already a mortgage holder, then as Karlsson and Fernández assured, mortgage calculations include a cushion that allow for changes in your financial circumstances.

If homeownership is in your future, housing prices may begin to decrease in the near future, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your local real estate listings.

By Shandana Mufti

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