Working in Austria

Austria prides itself on its strong economy, rich cultural heritage and enviable work-life balance. Both its banking and tourism industries are highly developed and doing business is a straightforward process, if you speak the language and follow the rules.

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Doing business

Austria has a very organised business culture. It ranks 19th in the World Bank's 2017 Ease of Doing Business Survey, with very high scores for enforcing contracts, getting electricity and resolving insolvencies. Austrians are hard-working, well-educated and industrious – one of the many reasons the country is an attractive work destination, especially if you’re looking to set up a new business. Its small and ageing population also means that expats are relied on to fill in the gaps.

A unique element of Austria’s business environment is its unique system of Sozialpartnerschaft (social partnership), which ensures cooperation between economic interest groups and the government. There are specific umbrella bodies which work together to promote healthy labour relations.

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Business culture

Business culture in Austria is defined by strict rules and old-fashioned etiquette. Don’t expect casual banter in the office – Austrians are very serious and focused while they work.

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Management Style

Austrian business culture is hierarchical. As experts in their field, managers are given a lot of respect and tend to make decisions alone without consulting their colleagues.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is expected by Austrians, especially in business circles. Try not to avoid it – it’s an important way to show your colleagues that you’re interested in what they’re saying.

Punctuality

Austrians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously and you’re expected to do the same. If you’re going to be delayed, call to explain and never cancel at the last minute.

Privacy

There is strict separation between an Austrian’s business and personal life so it’s unlikely you’ll be invited for a drink after work or to a colleague’s home at the weekend.

Ethics

Austrians are respectful and expect high standards of their business partners. Unethical behaviour will seriously damage your reputation.

Fast facts

Business Language

German is the official business language, but English is widely spoken in business circles.

Business hours

Usually from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday, with an hour for lunch. On Fridays most businesses open between 8am and 3pm.

Dress

Business dress is formal and conservative. Men should wear dark coloured business suits with white shirts. Women should wear either business suits or simple dresses, complemented with elegant accessories.

Greeting

A firm handshake is the most common business greeting. Always address your Austrian counterparts by their formal title (if they have one). Otherwise, you should use 'Herr' to address a man and 'Frau' to address a woman with their surname.

Gifts

Gift-giving isn’t expected in business. If you’re invited to a colleague’s home (which is rare) wine, chocolates or flowers make good gifts. Make sure to un-wrap flowers from their packaging first and always give in odd numbers – an even number means bad luck in Austria.

Gender equality

Not many women hold senior positions in Austrian-owned businesses. As a foreign businesswoman, though, you will always be treated with professional respect.

Expat Salaries

Expat salaries are generally high, especially if you work in a managerial position.

It's a great opportunity to earn more money, see the world and meet different people.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

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Making life easier for expats

  • Starting a new life abroad has its complexities.
  • Your finances shouldn’t be one of them.
  • We believe that choosing to live abroad has the power to enrich your life. It can be a journey that leads to new experiences and opportunities. But it can also be complicated. That’s why we’re here to help manage your finances and make planning for the future simple.

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in June 2017. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.