Ensuring the best brains stay

The cost of replacing an employee can be more than twice that person’s annual salary, so Norwegian companies pay special attention to the hiring process – especially when the company is looking to hire from outside of the country. To make the transition to Norway easier – both for employee and employer – the International Network of Norway (INN) helps Norwegian companies “make the best brains stay.”

INN – a programme set up by and run through the Oslo Chamber of Commerce – helps companies take care of all the important matters surrounding the residence of foreign skilled labour in the Oslo region. This wide range of assistance includes house-hunting, paperwork assistance, protocol tips as well as social and professional network building – just to name a few areas of support.
INN costs vary with regards to how many people per company are involved in the programme and according to the extent of services supplied. Client companies can attest to the fact of high return on this investment in their employees.

The Norwegian software company Opera is very proactive in recruiting foreign labour for their award-winning internet browser, and they emphasize the social factor taking care of their employees.

Highest Quality of Life
From a cultural and economic perspective the world is growing ever smaller, and Norway knows that a flexible work force with international expertise creates growth in the national economy. In 2006, Norway’s economy grew by 60,000 new jobs and in 2007 the growth is expected to be 30,000. The challenge remains that Norwegians themselves cannot meet this growth demand – the work force in this country grows by just 15,000 per year – and must look internationally to supplement certain skills.
Not surprisingly, Norway is an attractive destination for these many temporary or permanent employees who relocate from other countries. Reasons for this include the booming national economy, in addition to the fact that it is just a great place to live – the United Nations Human Development Report has rated Norway the best place to live for the sixth-straight year.

Cutting-Edge Performance
Another reason that top professionals are moving to Norway is that there are so many cutting-edge companies and organizations in the country working within research, oil and gas, medicine, defence, IT and other areas of expertise. For Norwegian companies such as Opera Software, nothing less than excellence, and satisfied employees, is good enough. Opera works with web browsers – their award-winning desktop browser is recognized as one of the most innovative and full-featured alternatives on the market – and it follows that top-quality employees are a must.
Within Norway, it is the Oslo region that is the most prominent business area with its wide variety of industries and services. Dozens of companies in this region work together with the INN in assisting the best possible international talents make the move to Norway. INN client companies and organizations include Wilhelmsen, Aker Kværner, DNV, Trolltech, Fast Search and Transfer, Norsar, DNV, ABB, Norske Skog and the University of Oslo.

The expat service centre, INN, is assisting their clients in obtaining work permits, registering at the National Registry, finding housing and arranging INN events for the expat community.

From the Beginning
Changing a job and residence is always a challenge, and the change is even greater when moving to a new country with its different culture, language, and ways of doing business. INN is in place to ease these everyday challenges of moving to a foreign country, facilitating an easier adjustment to the local environment. Relocation services include pre-visit support, home search, immigration procedures, arrival programme and repatriation. For those whom INN assists on behalf of client companies, lasting bonds are often created.
“Before moving from France, my husband and I were relieved to know we were going to benefit from INN’s Expat Services. Now, almost a year later I feel very close to INN’s people and very thankful for all they have done for us,” said Elysa Rambaud, who relocated from France to Norway in 2006 with her husband.

Smoothing the Road
Rambaud emphasized that many INN services were valuable, including the Spouse Career Centre, which helped her find employment well suited to her career path. Working with the Career Centre, she studied Norwegian and developed a professional network, undertaking serious job hunting – and securing an excellent job within six months. The Spouse Career Centre includes professional counselling, information about job seeking in Norway, cooperation with hiring agencies and a CV Bank. These services are open to all family members of employees covered under a client INN agreement.
Another valuable reference for the Rambaud family was the Expatriate Handbook, a 206-page practical guide with all of the information needed to make the move to Norway. Norwegian culture, history, society, as well as life in general in the Oslo region are profiled in this handbook in a way that is practical and useful. To meet the information needs in other important areas, INN develops specific guidance, including a health care brochure with a guide to health care services in the Oslo region. In addition, a 24-hour emergency helpline as well as access to INN counsellors is available to those who benefit from INN support.

Getting in Tune
The INN also distributes a monthly newsletter, in addition to a weekly e-mail containing weekend event and activity suggestions and information. On a recent weekend in Oslo, activities included the Turkish Food and Handicraft Market, the National Music Day Folk Dance at the Open Air Museum and the Norwegian final of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2007.
The INN knows from experience that balance is important for a family when moving to a new country and that employees satisfied with their life as a whole will perform better at their place of employment. INN works with the Oslo Chamber of Commerce, client companies and the Norwegian government with the knowledge that people satisfied during their stay in Norway will become the best ambassadors.