More than 200,000 foreigners are now at work in Denmark, according to the Confederation of Danish Industry. But the fine points of business etiquette in Denmark can be tricky for non-Danes. Many of the “rules” are unwritten, and Danes have expectations of their business partners they might not always be aware of themselves.
In an article for TheLocal.dk, Kay talks about some of these unsaid expectations and unwritten rules of Danish business etiquette.
When you get your first pay slip from a Danish company, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how small it is. What you thought would be your income in Denmark will have been diminished by Denmark’s world-champion income taxes.
Understanding your Danish taxes can be tricky, however, because they are divided into so many different parts.
Understanding your Danish taxes
The most important two lines on the pay slip are brutto, which is what your employer is paying you, and netto, which is what you’ll actually get to take home. In between will be several lines of taxes you must pay.
Kay Xander Mellish’s new book on Danish working culture, How to Work in Denmark, has received extensive coverage in the Danish media, including an appearance on the nationally-televised “Go’ Morgen Danmark” to publicize the book.
Kay also stopped by the P1 Morgen studios in DR Byen to discuss the book (listen here). She also chatted with Anders Christiansen on Radio 24-7 about the ins and outs of Danish working culture, and appeared with Karen Høgh on her Solopreneur podcast.
There’s no reason to spend a lot on what you wear to work in Denmark. Danes, by nature, are not flashy dressers.
In most Danish business environments, you’ll be perfectly well dressed in a fitted pair of business trousers, dark shoes, and a solid-color sweater or dress shirt. Male or female, you’ll never go wrong with quiet colors like burgundy, dark blue, dark green, brown, or black.
Subtle good taste is the preferred style. Obvious designer labels are considered tacky, but quality cut and fabric are appreciated.
The “How to Work in Denmark” book is now available!
Working in Denmark comes with a lot of benefits – but a lot of unwritten rules, too.
Why is it so important to take a break and eat cake with your colleagues?
How can you promote your skills in a job interview without breaking “The Jante Law”?
Is learning to speak Danish necessary? Can you succeed in your career without it?
What’s the secret to understanding Danish humor at the office?
With its high salaries and good work-life balance, Denmark is an attractive place to work for professionals from all over the world. But the Danish workplace, like Danish culture is a whole, is built on unwritten rules and unspoken expectations.
“How to Work in Denmark”, the book, explains some of the rules of the road in the Danish workplace as well as how to find and keep a job in Denmark.
How to buy the book
You can buy the paperback book from Arnold Busck on Strøget in Copenhagen or from Bog og Ide in Frederiksberg Center.
Or order the paperback from our webshop, or from any bookshop using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8.
As a keynote speaker, I’m often asked to give presentations that help Danish companies understand their American colleagues and vice-versa. One of the biggest cultural clashes between the two countries is the differing role of the boss. Here’s a look at the contrasts between Danish managers and American managers.
1. The motivator vs the consensus-seeker
American bosses see themselves as motivators, cheerleaders, energizing their team to get the best performance out of them. A great boss is inspiring and able to bring employees along on a journey that can boost their own careers. This is why Americans buy books and watch TV shows about charismatic business leaders – from Lee Iacocca to Donald Trump to Jay-Z to millennial “Girlboss” Sophia Amoruso. A boss is a star, and employees revolve around her like planets revolve around the sun.
There are few books about famous Danish bosses. Danes are, in general, suspicious of people who think too highly of themselves and make too much money.
In an anti-authoritarian country like Denmark, being a boss is a precarious (social) position. Danish bosses don’t like to flaunt their authority.
In fact, when you enter a room of Danes, it is often difficult to tell which one is the boss. The social cues that point to a big cheese in other cultures – the flashy watch, the oversize office, the glamorous yet servile executive assistant – are considered poor taste in egalitarian Denmark.
“Dansk kultur set med amerikansk øjne” was the topic when Kay Xander Mellish was interviewed for Vores Villa, Denmark’s most popular interior design magazine with a circulation of more than 1 million homeowners.
According to Kay, these are the “10 særlige kendetegn ved danske hjem”:
DE 5 FANTASTISKE:
🇩🇰 Færre ting giver mindre at fokusere på og gør det nemmere at slappe af
🇩🇰 Dansk designhåndværk – som fx Georg Jensens frugtskål
🇩🇰 Naturens farver spiller en stor rolle i danske hjem.
🇩🇰 Velholdte trægulve
🇩🇰 Gardiner og vinduer, der er designet til at lukke lys ind
DE 5 KNAP SÅ FANTASTISKE:
🇩🇰 Stor ensartethed, fordi der er en frygt for at sprænge rammerne.
🇩🇰 Isolation, der er designet til at holde på varmen – smart om vinteren, men upraktisk en hed sommerdag.
🇩🇰 Hårde sofaer og senge – og der er ikke nok puder i dem!
🇩🇰 Amatørmalerier på væggene, der slet ikke lever op til de smukke, dyre verdensklassemøbler
🇩🇰 Stole, der er rene kunstværker, men som man sidder elendigt i.
Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.