Polish Work Culture
To succeed in business in Poland, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the business culture.
As a global PEO (Professional Employment Organization) it is our goal to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about Poland work culture, we want to support your global expansion plans. Therefore, we will address all the aspects of the work culture in Poland to start your expansion well-informed.
Poland has successfully emerged from the Soviet-era to become one of Europe’s most attractive nations for foreign expansion with a cosmopolitan, internationally minded workforce.
Poland ranked 23rd globally for nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 655.3 billion US dollars in 2021 and ranked ninth among European nations – a jump of two places since 2020.
In addition to being a member of the European Union (EU), Poland is also a key player in the Central Eastern Europe (CEE) economic bloc. Poland is recognized as the strongest and most open and forward-looking of the former ‘Eastern bloc’ nations, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Poland’s growth as a free-market economy has been driven by the younger elements of a well-educated, motivated, and focused workforce. They have played a strong entrepreneurial role, particularly among start-ups. Many of the younger managers have added English, German, and Russian language skills to their Polish, nurturing an internationally minded outlook.
Incomers need to be up to speed to make their mark in this highly competitive environment. The workforce is well-educated, highly skilled, multi-lingual and Poland’s employment market proves a magnet for workers from those countries enjoying free movement across Europe’s borders.
Here are a few tips on taking the right steps and avoiding the pitfalls:
- Language: Polish is the official language, obviously, but being enclosed by several other nations has encouraged language skills in many businesspeople. Russian and German are commonly spoken. English is regularly used in business meetings where Polish is not the first language among attendees.
- Punctuality: Show respect by being on time, although senior managers often like to be the last to arrive.
- Attitudes: An initially formal and reserved outlook runs alongside being direct, decisive and ‘getting to the point’.
- Business Environment: Welcoming to international involvement, with SMEs particularly keen to engage with foreign partners. Decisions tend to come down from the top, reflecting that the business environment still tends towards the hierarchical.
- Negotiations: Because of potential language issues, always best to stick to written agreements. Show interest in the company and the process – do not seem to be in a rush to ‘close the deal’ as this may in fact slow things down. Initial meetings may be with a middle manager to assess ‘trustworthiness’ before senior levels become involved.
- Presentations: Make them clear, precise, and backed up by charts and stats.
- Meetings: Poles are generally happy for small talk at the beginning and end of meetings. Show respect to senior members of the other team.
- Greetings: Maintain eye contact and shake hands – with everyone – thereafter allowing a good arm’s length personal space. Until formality is put aside, stick to titles and surnames. ‘Pan’ for Mr. and ‘Pani’ for Mrs. Married women take their husband’s last name, but if it ends in a ‘y’ or an ‘I’ the letter changes to an ‘a’. So, if you are introduced to a Mr. Kowalski and Mrs. Kowalska, there is a good chance they are a married couple.
- Dress Code: Formal for men and women in meetings, though can be more relaxed during office hours and ‘dress down’ Fridays.
- Gift-giving: Make them modest and thoughtful, and open immediately.
Polish Minimum Wage
Poland has a federal mandatory minimum for wages, which from January 2022 is PLN 19.70 (€4.35, US$4.97) per hour and PLN 3,010 (€664, US$760) each month. The monthly wage reflects an increase of PLN 210 (€46.40, US$53) over 2021.
Probation Periods in Poland
Trial periods are subject to a formal contract, prior to being employed on a full contract, and cannot exceed three months. The probationary contract can be terminated by mutual consent, but not unilaterally. Notice periods are three days, seven days or 14 days depending on the length of the trial period.
Working Hours in Poland
Working hours are restricted to eight in a 24-hour period, or no more than 40 in a five-day week averaged over a period determined by the employer, which cannot exceed four months. Extended limits can be agreed to meet production demands. Employees are entitled to a paid 15-minute break for working six hours, with the option of an unpaid lunch break of 60 minutes – although this means making up the hour at the end of the day, so is often not taken. Flexible working hours are allowed under the Labor Code.
Overtime in Poland
Overtime is restricted to 150 hours in a calendar year unless the employment contract, a collective agreement or the employer’s workplace regulations state otherwise. Total weekly working hours, including overtime, should not average more than 48 in the reference period determined by the employer. Overtime is 100% above the normal hourly salary for working Sundays or bank holidays; 50% extra for overtime on other days; 100% extra for every hour worked above the norm contractually agreed for the reference period.