Austrian Culture: Tradition, Nature, and Work Ethic
Austria is a country with a rich culture shaped by various influences. Austrian culture is characterized by strong traditions, a love of nature, a rich musical history, and a unique cuisine. Additionally, there is a strong work culture in Austria that follows certain rules and behaviors. In the following, seven no-go's in the Austrian work culture will be presented that international employees should be aware of. However, it is important to note that there may be differences in culture depending on the industry and company.
Don't Be Late
Austrians place a high value on punctuality. Being on time for meetings, appointments and deadlines is crucial to building trust and respect with your colleagues. If you're running late, be sure to notify your colleagues in advance to show respect for their time.
Don't Be Too Casual
Austrians tend to dress more formally for work, especially in more traditional industries such as finance and law. Dressing appropriately for your workplace shows respect for the company and its culture. As the saying goes, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have".
Don't Forget Your Language Skills
While English is widely spoken in many workplaces, German is still the dominant language in Austria. Having strong German language skills will not only help you communicate more effectively with your colleagues, but also show your commitment to integrating into the local culture.
Individuals who aspire to live and thrive professionally in Austria in the long run greatly benefit from demonstrating motivation to learn the language.
But be careful: In Austria, German ≠ German. The Austrian language differs from that of its German neighbor in many ways. And we don't just mean the Austrian dialect here, whose divergence from standard German is growing steadily from Vienna to Vorarlberg. We are also talking about lexical variations between Austria and Germany. If you want to understand Austrians better, check out this article: 20 Survival Words in Austrian
Don't Ignore Titles Or Hierarchy
One thing you need to know about Austrians before working here: We love our titles. Therefore, never forget to address a business partner without his/her title - especially in written communication or in official documents. While internationally the BA, MA, MSC etc. is placed after the name and completely omitted in the salutation, in Austria it is not uncommon for a letter to be addressed to Dr. Ing. Mag. (FH) Peter Müller.
Also, Hierarchy is still prevalent in many Austrian workplaces. Showing respect for those in positions of authority and avoiding challenging their decisions in public is crucial to building positive relationships with your colleagues.
Who's in the Lead for specific topics? Who has the authority to grant approvals? Who reports to whom? Remember that responsibilities can vary across different companies and industries. Therefore, at the beginning of your tenure, closely observe how the hierarchy functions in your organization and align your behavior with that of your colleagues.
Don't Be Rude
Austrians value politeness and civility in the workplace. Using "please" and "thank you" when communicating with colleagues and avoiding interrupting or talking over others during meetings or discussions, will show respect for your colleagues and their ideas.
A good tip: Don't forget to allocate a few minutes for small talk at the beginning of each meeting. In Austria, it's rare to jump straight into the agenda; instead, people typically ask each other how they're doing, talk about their weekends, or discuss current events. This brief moment of small talk not only helps create a pleasant atmosphere but also allows you to establish a more personal connection with your colleagues.
Don't Neglect Your Work-Life Balance
While in other countries, such as Germany, the number of overtime hours is seen as a career accelerator, Austrians also attach great importance to a good work-life balance. That doesn't mean hard work and productivity aren't valued. Find a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Have you ever been to Vienna? The beautiful capital city of Austria, with its rich culture and numerous leisure opportunities, provides the perfect backdrop for that. Discover more in our article about Vienna: "Vienna: Living and Working in Style".
Austria also has an employee-friendly labor law system with numerous regulations, collective agreements and social partners. This is also one reason why things are relatively harmonious by international standards and why there are relatively few strikes.
Don't Forget About Coffee Breaks
Coffee breaks are an important part of Austrian work culture. They provide an opportunity to socialize with colleagues and build relationships outside of work tasks. Don't be afraid to join in on the coffee break tradition and take a break from your work duties.