On the one hand, there are formal requirements that differ depending on whether the new employee comes from an EU country or a third country. EU citizens have freedom of settlement and do not need any official permits to work in Austria. Persons from third countries require the Red-White-Red-Card for this purpose. “The procedure for obtaining the card should be handled by the local company with the competent foreign authority,” recommends Ulrike Klingenschmid, Expat Officer at Innovation Salzburg GmbH. “This applies not only to the person being hired but also to the partner.
Click here for information on the Red-White-Red-Card
“The situation where one person starts taking care of everything alone here, besides their new job, while the rest of the family is still in the country of origin trying to obtain the Card, is not a good prerequisite for integrating here,” adds Klingenschmid. In general, all newcomers need a Red-White-Red-Card or, for family members, a Red-White-Red-Card-Plus. To obtain these, they must score a certain number of points based on criteria such as qualifications, language skills in German and English, and professional experience. In addition, there are also different categories that are evaluated separately, such as whether they are key personnel, skilled workers from the national shortage occupation list, startups, or similar. However, in general, only highly qualified individuals can obtain the Red-White-Red-Card.
Successful social life
The settling in of expats on site should not be underestimated. “Only if individuals have been able to integrate, have arrived and have a social network after a certain period of time, will they stay,” Klingenschmid knows. When a company has found the long-awaited skilled worker, it is advisable to support them in this regard as well in order to be able to maintain the employment relationship permanently. “The easiest step is, of course, to at least provide expats with contacts to regional entities that can help them. In Salzburg, there are Innovation Salzburg or information portals such as www.willkommen-in-salzburg.at, Facebook groups, or similar. Here there is usually also information material that one can give to new employees.”
“Only if individuals have been able to integrate, have arrived and have a social network after a certain period of time, will they stay.”
Joint company events or buddy systems can also support settling in, but this also requires the appropriate corporate culture. However, integration must also succeed within the company. Especially in companies where English is not the language of communication, native colleagues need to be aware of how difficult it is to understand quickly spoken German. The Austrian dialect is another obstacle. “A basic consideration that is lived and demanded from the top level is necessary for successful coexistence. For example, important meetings can be held in English or at least in standard German and spoken slowly, to ensure understanding without being arrogant,” Klingenschmid advises. “An intercultural training can also help.”
Don’t forget about the family
Bei all dem ist der Partner oder die Partnerin nicht zu vernachlässigen. Fühlt er oder sie sich auf die Dauer unwohl, wird dies ebenfalls ein Grund sein, weiterzuziehen. Klingenschmid dazu: „Angebote aus dem Unternehmen – ob Deutschkurs oder gemeinsame Sportveranstaltungen – könnten Partner:innen miteinbeziehen und so dazu beitragen.” Auch Dual Career-Möglichkeiten werden immer beliebter. Gerade Hochqualifizierte haben auch oft Partner:innen, die früher oder später eine eigene Karriere anstreben. Große Unternehmen haben es hier etwas einfacher, zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe zu schlagen: zwei gut ausgebildete Arbeitskräfte für den Betrieb zu gewinnen und dabei die Integration beider am Standort zu unterstützen.
Finding support from service centers
Temporary housing options can also be helpful. Finding suitable accommodation in the respective work location from abroad is a difficult task. “Some companies provide apartments for the first few months, which gives expats some breathing space to look for something of their own. If that’s not possible, at least support in finding a place to live is something that expats would appreciate.”
There can also be assistance available at the place of residence. According to Klingenschmid, it would be good if there was a contact person for expats in the municipality, especially in rural areas, who could explain all the important points in English. “There is still room for improvement in this and some other areas,” Klingenschmid notes. “As far as Salzburg is concerned, we support companies and municipalities with our Welcome Service in receiving expats. However, the main ingredient for a successful arrival in work and private life is mutual understanding of the challenges. If that is present, everything can be resolved.”