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Jobs in Switzerland: Swiss Workplace Etiquette

Posted on 15 August 2007 by LegalBeagle

Mastering Swiss etiquette is key to finding work in Switzerland and is important for keeping your job : it’s an insurance policy for longevity and escaping corporate downsizings, re-sizings, or political reshuffles. The Swiss economy is booming and there lots of openings for foreign nationals to work in Switzerland.

After finding a job in Switzerland, here are some pointers for keeping one’s Swiss employment.

1. In the Swiss workplace, try to like your colleagues. Look for aspects that you can respect in your co-workers and colleagues. In the Swiss corporate world, avoid sending negative signals: communicating that you don’t like people will most likely result in their not liking you either. In Swiss companies and Swiss-based multinationals, bad feeling in workplace poisons the work environment, promote intrigues, and can result in one’s losing one’s job. Job performance in Switzerland is always partly judged based on behavioral aspects.


2. Communicate often with your manager. In Switzerland, expectations for employees are usually spelled out and performance reviews are held on a regular basis. Make sure that your supervisor knows you understand your role and his/her role. Finding and keeping your job in Switzerland depends on a good, clear communication channel with your boss, who sees you as a cooperative employee on the same wavelength. The Swiss workplace is much more understated and discreet than in North America. In Switzerland, there
is typically a job description or ‘cahier des charges.’ There may be a gray area around your job description – areas in which you may be expected to lend a hand. Try to conclude your regular performance reviews with a document, as clearly as possible outlining what is expected of you on the job and how you will be judged on the work you produce. Employment practices in Switzerland place great importance on the setting of expectations and then a performance review after 6-12 months to examine to what extent those job performance objectives were met.


3. The Swiss workplace often has a small but important social component. On the job, try to avoid refusing
invitations to socialize. In Switzerland, when you’re asked to join supervisor or co-workers at a social event, remember that avoiding these events can give your colleagues the feeling that you’re above socializing with the group, and can result in your being isolated on the job. Working in Switzerland, use social events with work or job-related colleagues as an opportunity for networking.

4. Keeping one’s job can be a matter of being liked: make your co-workers feel good about themselves — appreciate their work where you can, and where relevant, praise them publicly.

5. Promoting yourself at work (and assuring that you keep your job) can also be helped along by increasing the esteem in which your colleagues hold you. Don’t violate confidences. In Switzerland, people often gossip in the workplace, and if you become known as the person people can trust, your stock will skyrocket.

6. Don’t refuse an assignment where you can help it. Even if it’s not in your job description, helping out when you can raises you in the general esteem. That said, you might need to avoid letting an especially lazy colleague offload his work on you.

7. If you were recruited by a specific employee or hiring manager, make sure they know you are grateful.

8. Know your supervisor’s expectations. You are responsible for your work, and it is your job to understand what your boss wants from you. If what is expected of you is unclear, get confirmation of assignments.

9. Never speak ill of your company. Comments always get back and make you look bad, lowering you in the management’s esteem and often also in your colleague’s esteem. Your office may not be perfect, but you don’t want to be the person bad-mouthing the company.

10. If you’re unhappy, do not broadcast it at work. Even if you’re looking for another job, avoid at all costs making it public knowledge. That way your job search will not become a full-time proposition.

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