Slovak business culture guide - Learn about Slovak Republic

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http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in the Slovak Republic. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which examined European Business culture in 31 countries …

http://businessculture.org - Find out about business culture in the Slovak Republic. This guide is part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which examined European Business culture in 31 countries looking at business communication, business etiquette, business meeting etiquette, internship and student placements, cost of living, work-life-balance and social media guide.

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  • 1.            |  1     businessculture.org Business Culture In Slovak Republic   http://businessculture.org/easterneurope/slovakia/ Content Template Last updated: 27.09.2013 businessculture.org   Content  SVK   This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the view only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  • 2.            |  2     TABLE  OF  CONTENTS   Business  Culture  in  Slovak  Republic  ..........................................................................................  4   Xenophobia: being a foreigner in Slovak Republic ............................................................................. 5   International business in Slovak Republic ........................................................................................... 5   General educations ............................................................................................................................... 6   Education standards ............................................................................................................................. 6   Cultural taboos ..................................................................................................................................... 7   Business  Communications  in  Slovak  Republic  ..........................................................................  8   Face – to – face communication........................................................................................................... 8   Language matters ................................................................................................................................. 8   Business relationship ............................................................................................................................. 9   Making Contact.................................................................................................................................... 9   Personal titles ........................................................................................................................................ 9   Business  Etiquette  ..................................................................................................................  11   Corporate social responsibility ........................................................................................................... 11   Punctuality .......................................................................................................................................... 12   Gift giving ........................................................................................................................................... 12   Business dress code ............................................................................................................................. 12   Bribery and corruption ....................................................................................................................... 12   Business  Meeting  Etiquette  ....................................................................................................  14   Importance of business meetings ........................................................................................................ 14   Business meeting planning ................................................................................................................. 14   Negotiation process ............................................................................................................................ 15   Meeting protocol ................................................................................................................................ 15   How to run a business meeting .......................................................................................................... 16   Follow up letter after meeting with client ........................................................................................... 16   Business meals .................................................................................................................................... 17   businessculture.org   Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 3.            |  3     Business meeting tips .......................................................................................................................... 18   Internship  and  placement  .......................................................................................................  19   Work experience................................................................................................................................. 19   Internship and placement advice ....................................................................................................... 19   Social security and European health insurance card ......................................................................... 19   Safety .................................................................................................................................................. 20   Do l need a visa? ................................................................................................................................. 20   Internship and placement salary ........................................................................................................ 20   Internship and placement accommodation ........................................................................................ 21   Cost  of  Living  ...........................................................................................................................  22   Money and banking ........................................................................................................................... 22   Travelling costs ................................................................................................................................... 22   Work-­‐life  Balance   ....................................................................................................................  23   National holidays ................................................................................................................................ 23   Working Hours ................................................................................................................................... 24   Work culture ....................................................................................................................................... 24   Health insurance ................................................................................................................................ 24   Social  Media  Guide  .................................................................................................................  25   SMEs .................................................................................................................................................. 25   Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business ........................................................ 26   businessculture.org   Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 4.            |  4     Business  Culture  in  Slovak  Republic   The following is a very short introduction to Slovak Republic. External links at the end of this page provide you with more in depth information concerning different topics. The following video gives you an overview of the general facts: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkaLBG0hfGw) The Slovak Republic, also known as Slovakia, is strategically situated in the centre of Europe surrounded by five countries: the Czech Republic to the northwest, Poland to the north, the Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south and Austria to the west. The Slovak Republic was formed in 1993 with a land mass of 49,037 km2, when Czechoslovakia separated into two sovereign states. Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro as its currency on January 1st, 2009. The population of the Slovak Republic is 5,483,088 million inhabitants (July 2012), with the capital Bratislava being the largest city with 425,533 inhabitants, followed by Kosice with approximately 235,281 inhabitants, Presov with 92,147 inhabitants, Nitra with 86,138 inhabitants, Zilina with 85,278 inhabitants and Banska Bystrica with 81,961 inhabitants. There is a growing volume of movement of people in the Slovak Republic, both from internal migration between regions and immigration from abroad. businessculture.org   Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 5.            |  5     The Slovak Republic had to implement many structural reforms before they could join the European Union and start using the Euro as currency, which was beneficial to the overall growth of the economy. The Slovak government has maintained a series of incentives to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to help maintain the upward trajectory of the economy since joining the EU. The Slovak Republic also enjoys a well educated, skilled and cheap labour force, a flat rate of taxation for corporations and individuals, no dividends taxes, liberal labour laws and a favourable geographical location, compared to Western Europe. This has helped to increase foreign direct investment by about 600% in the last 10 years. Since joining the EU, the Slovak Republic has attracted a lot of investment in various sectors, notably in industries like car manufacturing, metallurgy, chemicals and food processing. The main sectors of the Slovak economy are the service sector, industry and agriculture. The official language of the Slovak Republic is Slovak and its official currency is the Euro. The Slovak Republic is in the Central European Time Zone and adheres to CET (UTC +1) during the winter and CEST (UTC +2) during the summer. The climate is characterized by mild, humid summers with occasional hot spells and cold, cloudy and humid winter with occasional arctic winter spells. Winter months are very cold and temperatures can drop as low as -25C under extreme conditions, but generally tend to stay between -5C to -10C under normal circumstances. In summer, temperatures average between 25C to 35C and can reach 40C in extreme conditions. Xenophobia:  being  a  foreigner  in  Slovak  Republic   Slovak attitudes to foreigners in business are that of mutual respect. They respond well to foreigners when they see that they can learn from them, but can be intolerant of those who do not appear to deserve their position. The days of blind adulation for everything foreign are long gone. Slovaks have utmost respect for expatriates working in the Slovak Republic, but now that respect is more for the knowledge of the individual rather than just because they are foreign. International  business  in  Slovak  Republic   When you visit another country on business, you can expect some differences in how business is conducted. However, you do not always have sufficient time to learn these differences through personal experience. Sometimes, you will find yourself in a meeting only a few hours after your arrival, where your lack of local knowledge leads you to make basic cultural mistakes, which can have serious repercussions on your efforts. This section is intended to equip you with the basic ‘ground rules’ for doing business in the Slovak Republic to ensure that you are sufficiently able to deal with most of the business situations that you may encounter. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 6.            |  6     General  educations   It is useful to be aware of the educational and linguistic competencies of your business partners to help you prepare for your meetings and negotiations. Can you expect to find people who will speak your language or should you bring an interpreter? What is the general level of computer literacy? The Slovak Republic, just like the Czech Republic, has a high level of basic education and a long standing tradition in engineering and manufacturing. Slovak managers tend to be well educated with most having university degrees and the majority of those having a postgraduate degree in management or their specialist field of expertise. Younger managers often travel to Western Europe or the USA to study for their Master’s degree and gain practical experience. Basic state education at the pre-school, primary and secondary school levels are free of charge and mandatory for every child born in the Slovak Republic. The first step of schooling starts with preschool level and every child has the right to attend kindergarten between the ages of 3 and 6. Sometimes places are limited, so parents have enrol their children in a school that may be slightly further away or pay for a place at a private nursery school. Primary school starts at the age of 6 or 7, depending on the child’s ability, and is divided into two stages. The first stage of primary education takes 4 years and then the parents have to decide whether the child continues to the fifth year in the same school or changes to a different school. The reason for the change is that there are two types of schools at this level; comprehensive schools (Gymnasium) and vocational schools (technical). The comprehensive school is further divided into several specializations such as language, mathematics and science; vocational schools are divided according to trade. A higher percentage of students that attend a comprehensive school go on to university than those attending vocational schools. Most students finish their secondary education around the age of 18 or 19. After graduation, the students going to university continue with their education while the other group joins the workforce. University education takes a minimum of 4 years for an undergraduate degree, depending on the course and 5 years for a specialist engineering degree, which is accredited at the same level as a postgraduate qualification. Many local managers will go on to study for a postgraduate degree, either locally, in Western Europe or at an American university, even after their acquiring their local masters degree (Ing.). Education  standards   Education is the fundamental right of every citizen in the Slovakia Republic and every child is mandatory to go to school from pre-school till they are 18years. The standard of education in the Slovakia Republic is quite high and the university standard is also quite high. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 7.            |  7     Cultural  taboos   It is important to avoid mixing business with pleasure. Specifically, it is important to avoid asking questions about intimate personal subjects, such as your host’s financial status, discussing confidential business matters inappropriately, as well as racial and sexual jokes. Slovaks might sometimes overstep the acceptable level of making jokes during business meetings. However, you can talk generally about politics, the economy and important sports events. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 8.            |  8     Business  Communications  in  Slovak  Republic   Communication is probably the most important aspect of doing business, yet we tend to take it for granted when doing business in our own country because we are dealing with people that speak the same language like us. The section is divided into three areas: communication, working practice, and eating out. It explains the differences between face-to-face communication, and dealing with people via the telephone or by letter/fax etc. How important is it to address people by their correct title? How should you introduce yourself? Should you always give your business cards? How important is it to get things agreed in writing? We think that this covers most business -situations. By reading this section, you should be sufficiently well equipped with the basic ‘ground rules’ for doing business in the Slovak Republic. Face  –  to  –  face  communication   Slovaks are not talkative by nature, preferring to be less direct and more cautious in their approach. Partners should be prepared to read between the lines. This does not mean that Slovaks are trying to hide something, just that they are not used to speaking their minds to total strangers. In the case of non-verbal communications, Slovaks are known for their cool heads and reserved attitude. Communicating with their hands or wild gesticulation is not typical of Slovak behaviour. Be aware that maintaining direct eye contact is an important part of communicating your intentions in a business meeting; it shows your level of interest in the discussion and that you are listening. On the other hand, not making eye contact could be interpreted as deceptive behaviour and lack of interest. Language  matters   Many of the people in management positions in the Slovak Republic are multilingual. Most speak English, Russian and German and people from southern Slovakia might also speak Hungarian. In general, older people can speak a little bit of German, Russian, English and Hungarian in the South. The younger generation speak mainly English as a second language, but French and German are also popular. University educated people tend to speak more foreign languages than the rest of the population. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 9.            |  9     Most of the younger manages speak fluent English, which should negate the need for an interpreter. A foreign business partner should always ask before the meeting whether an interpreter is needed, in order to ensure there are no difficulties with communication and avoid any embarrassment. It advisable to learn a few greeting phrases in Slovak to break the ice at the beginning of the meeting. The Slovak language differentiates between the singular (you) and plural (you) forms of address. The singular form is a very familiar way of addressing someone and is used together with the first name. The latter one is a more formal form of address and is used in conjunction with the surname. However, it is also possible to use the plural form in conjunction with the first name as a form of address. Thus, be careful, even the use of the first name does not necessarily mean the relationship is too familiar. This is in contrast to English, where there is only one form of addressing your business partner and a level of familiarity can be assumed when people address each other on first name terms. Business  relationship   Slovak small and medium sized enterprises welcome every opportunity to do business with foreign partners. For the majority of SMEs, it is assumed that a written agreement has priority over a verbal agreement. As it is always difficult to substantiate and refer to a verbal agreement, written agreements are always recommended. Making  Contact   In order to find information about potential business partners and opportunities in the Slovak Republic, it is recommended to start with the following organisations: You can also meet representatives of Slovak companies at trade shows, seminars and conferences abroad. Foreign partners are advised to make their first contact in written form, either by letter or fax or email. Communications should be addressed directly to a specific person who is able to make a quick decision, i.e. the Managing Director. If, after the first contact, it is known that the Slovak manager speaks English, then the best and fastest way is to make a more direct connection and arrange a face-to-face meeting. Slovaks prefer to have one-on-one negotiation. Personal  titles   There is still a strong tendency to use professional titles in Slovak society. Most individuals are addressed according to their profession or how their name is written on their business card. Therefore, individuals might be addressed as Mr. Engineer, Mr. Magister, or Mr. Doctor. In businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 10.            |  10     conversation with local business partners, you should always address them by their job title, except in cases where academic titles are mentioned on the business card, in which case academic titles will have priority over business titles when addressing the person. For example, if the name of the general manager of the company is Prof. Ing. Jaroslav Novák, DrSc., he should be addressed as ‘Mr. General Manager’ rather than ‘Mr. Professor’. The use of academic titles in the business environment, for example Professor (Prof.), Docent (Doc.), Doctor of Science (Dr Sc.), raises the level of respect for the individual (especially within the older generation). In small and medium sized companies, they do not put too much emphasis on positional titles; they prefer to use academic titles. Older managers are used to calling each other with their titles, but the younger generation prefer to be addressed by their surname. In a business meeting held in English, both Slovak and foreign partners will follow the English norm, i.e. Mr. Novak for a man, Mrs. Nováková for a woman, or Ms. for a younger woman. In the Slovak language, the surname for man and woman varies according to grammatical rules. For women you would add ‘ová’ or ‘á’ to the end of the name i.e. Mr. Novák becomes Mrs. or Ms. Nováková. This naming convention is the thing that confuses most foreigners when they are communicating with their Slovak partners, because it does not translate into an English way of thinking. In the Slovak language, the postpositions of ‘ová’ or ‘á’ are used only for surnames when addressing women. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 11.            |  11     Business  Etiquette     Business etiquette focuses on the behaviour deemed appropriate in a professional setting and you’ll be more likely to make an excellent impression on people you encounter if you maintain a professional approach. Attitudes and values are very important in trying to develop a business relationship between two cultures or countries. Slovaks are well known for their professionalism and level-headedness in business. They are friendly, but reserved, and it will take a few visits to get to know you before they can really feel comfortable with you. Basic tips to follow when doing business in the Slovak Republic • Greetings should include a firm handshake and direct eye contact; a weak handshake means that you are weak and no direct eye contact could be taken to mean that you are hiding something. • Remain standing after greeting until invited to sit down as there might be a seat reserved specifically for you. • Do not give chrysanthemums or calla lilies as gifts because these are traditional funeral flowers. • Gifts are usually opened immediately after they have been received. • Business appointments are mandatory and should be made in advance. • Punctuality for meetings is taken extremely seriously. • Initial meetings are scheduled as introductions to get to know each other and to build trust with your Slovak associates. The first meeting may be with a middle manager, rather than the actual decision maker. Expect some small talk and getting-to-know-you conversation before business is discussed. • Slovaks are non-confrontational and often take an indirect approach to business dealings. • Business is conducted slowly, so you will have to be patient and not appear ruffled by the strict adherence to protocol. • Business is hierarchical and decision-making power is held at the top of the company. • Do not try to schedule meetings on Friday afternoons, as many Slovaks leave for their cottages in the countryside after lunch. • Many businesses close or operate with only minimal numbers of staff during August. • Maintain direct eye contact while speaking. • Presentations should be simple, accurate and detailed and, where necessary, you should have charts and figures to back up your claims. Corporate  social  responsibility   Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a relatively new concept in the Slovak business community and the government is trying to establish a partnership between companies, stakeholders and the government to integrate social and environmental concerns into their business operations on a voluntary basis. A project was launched in 2011 with the cooperation of partners including the United Nations Development Programme, local universities and other stakeholders. It will also businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 12.            |  12     produce a government paper that will outline the National Strategy of support for CSR and provide monitoring and evaluation of CSR in Slovak businesses. Punctuality Punctuality is important because arriving late for a business meeting does not paint a good picture of the individual. The Slovak business community is very punctual and people don’t like to be kept waiting for a meeting. A 15 minute grace period is normal in social settings, but might well be frowned upon in a formal business environment where punctuality is expected. Gift  giving   Most business people do not expect to be given gifts at a first meeting. However, something small, a souvenir representing the business partner’s country would be acceptable, such as a book about the visitor’s home country, bottle of alcohol or corporate gift. Expensive presents are not recommended and could prove to be counterproductive as most companies have a ceiling on the value of gifts that can be accepted. Business  dress  code   In the Slovak business community, your appearance gives the first impression about you. Cleanliness and tidiness are a must and you should dress in a professional and conservative manner, paying attention to the time and place of the occasion. For men, a dark coloured suit or jacket and trousers with tie is appropriate and woman managers like to wear suits. Your choice of attire should demonstrate individual style and taste, but you should avoid bright colours if you want to be taken seriously; woman should also take care to avoid provocative clothes. There is a saying that the way you dress shows your respect for the business partner. Large organisations set a dress code policy for their employees, through which they are able to show respect for their business partners, customers and the general public. In small and medium sized companies, there are usually no specific dress code policies, except where employees have to wear uniforms, and the style is more business casual. This is unless there is an important meeting or special occasion, where everyone is expected to dress more formally. Bribery  and  corruption   businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 13.            |  13     The Slovak Republic has the same problems as the rest of the eastern and central European countries when it comes to corruption. Both foreign and local business people use bribery as a business tool to secure business contracts or to cut through red tape when trying to start a new business. The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (2012) shows that the Slovak Republic is currently in 62nd place, with a CPI score of 46. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 14.            |  14     Business  Meeting  Etiquette     The safest practice when organising and attending meetings in another country is to ‘act local’. Then you can be confident that your meetings will be successful and your hosts will appreciate your cultural sensitivity. There are a number of things you need to consider: • What are the local attitudes to business meetings? • How should you go about organising a meeting? • How do you greet people at meetings? • How should you run a meeting? • What do you need to think about when conducting negotiations? • What should you do after a meeting? Importance  of  business  meetings   In general, the first meeting with a Slovak company is characterized by a high level of formality and politeness. Any decisions will depend on who is attending the meeting from the Slovakia side. If the owner or general manager of the company is present at the first meeting, then you can expect a quick response to whether a business arrangement is of interest; but if the company‘s representative is a departmental head or a subordinate, then they will have to brief the owner before a decision can be made. Once a verbal agreement has been reached, Slovak companies prefer to have agreements written up under the direction of their lawyers. A lawyer’s involvement depends on the stage of cooperation, but verbal commitments are not regarded as legally binding, so it is important to have a general agreement drawn up in writing, even if it is not very detailed. Business  meeting  planning   • It is advisable to offer options for the dates and time of the meeting and give an indication of what will be discussed, which will give the participants the opportunity to plan and prepare for the meeting.An agenda should be distributed prior to the meeting. • Don‘t forget to produce copies of any documentation required for the meeting in the language of your business partner. • The host is in charge of organising the meeting and creating the best conditions for the smooth running of the meeting, including arranging the meeting room, equipment and any refreshments that may be required. • The host will select who is going to attend the meeting, according to the status and positions of representatives from the foreign partner. It is advisable to get a written confirmation of the meeting time with the name and position of whoever is going to attend. You should always call ahead, if you cannot attend the meeting for any reason. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 15.            |  15     • Depending on the language skills of the people that will be involved in the meeting, a professional interpreter should be made available for the meeting to help everyone understand each other. • During the first meeting it is normal to start by introducing both companies, the initiating party then makes a presentation of the goals for the meeting, followed by discussion of the problem and summarising the results of the meeting, which both parties should agree upon. Negotiation  process   The Slovak negotiating style is similar to the Czech style. When dealing with an older business partner, it is better to remain calm and take things slowly; spending time to explain clearly why working together will be beneficial to both parties. Being in a hurry and rushing through your negotiating presentation will only result in rejection, as they like to take their time before making a decision and do not like to be rushed into making a decision. They need to feel comfortable when negotiating, which means they prefer to talk to someone in their age group, as opposed to aggressive ‘young guns’ who think that they know everything. Even though they are not emotional in business, Slovaks still try to create a friendly atmosphere by cracking jokes and trying to be humorous. The younger generation are more westernized. Most of them studied their postgraduate qualification in either Western Europe or America, so their negotiating skills tend to be more British or American than Slovak. Where the older generation might start a first meeting with a discussion about tourist sites in Bratislava; a younger person will likely jump straight into the business discussion, with the aim of being as efficient as possible. Once both sides have reached an agreement, the Slovak side will want a written confirmation with all the terms and conditions described in full. This is the way business is done and not due to any lack of trust. Meeting  protocol   The basic way of greeting people is by shaking the right hand and saying “dobre den” (good morning/afternoon), “dobrý večer” (good evening) or welcoming phrases “vítáj vás”(welcome) or “těší mne, že vás mohu přivítat v naší společnosti” (I am pleased to welcome you to our company). Without regard to gender, the host will always offer their hand first. When shaking hands, you should have a firm handshake because a weak handshake can be taken to mean that you are weak or unsure of yourself. Conversely, a handshake that is too strong might be an indication that you will be inflexible and not open to proposals that might be put forward in the meeting. It is always good to maintain eye contact as a demonstration of openness and businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 16.            |  16     sincerity. You should avoid over friendly gestures like slapping on the back, hugging, kissing on the cheek or hands in any business situation. The kissing of a woman’s hand is also no longer acceptable in a business setting. The use of business cards is a common practice across all sectors of the economy. Although they are never exchanged during the greeting, they should be given at the beginning of the meeting, so that everybody knows with whom they are talking, what position they hold and for which company. Business cards are used as a means of introduction and to provide basic contact information. The exchange of business cards also enables you to identify a potential business partner and helps you to know how to address the person. The function of the business card is becoming more important in the Slovak business community and more thought and effort is now being put into their design. Even though the design of business cards should be simple and informative, some SMEs use it as a form of advertising. For most Slovak companies, the language used on their business cards is Slovak. Companies with international partnerships may have business cards with more than one language i.e. Slovak and English. It is important to explain the position of the person to the foreign business partner, because of the potential for difficulties with the correct pronunciation of names and accurate translation of job titles. If written in Slovak, a job title might sound similar to an equivalent position in another language, but the words could mean something totally different. How  to  run  a  business  meeting   If the Slovak side is hosting the meeting, then they have to prepare the agenda and run the meeting. The senior representative from the Slovak company will present the agenda at the beginning of the meeting and begin the discussion. During the meeting, some refreshments will normally be offered, such as coffee, tea, water and biscuits. If the meeting runs longer than expected, some food may be offered. The host has to prepare the minutes of the meeting, including summarising the main points of the meeting, conclusions drawn from the discussion and a schedule of further steps to be taken. The meeting minutes are distributed within the week for review and approval and, if no modifications are requested, a confirmation of the agreement will be issued. Follow  up  letter  after  meeting  with  client   If it has been agreed to continue with the partnership, then the timetable plays a very important role in defining the activities of both business partners. After the tasks are formulated, deadlines are fixed and dates and places of future meetings are decided upon. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 17.            |  17     In the case of one or both of the partners not seeing any future in their cooperation, each party has the right to terminate negotiations and a full explanation for that decision will then be expected. Business  meals   Sharing a meal is generally one of the more enjoyable aspects of doing business in another country. We have included it as a separate section because formal meals can represent an opportunity to develop social relationship, which, as we all know, can be essential for strengthening any long-term business partnership. But this aspect presents a whole series of questions. Who pays for the meal? Should you offer to pay? When and what to eat? Could you refuse a specific dish? Can you discuss business at the table during the meal or when is it most appropriate? Attitudes to Business Meals Most Slovak business people would never host a business dinner in their own home. Inviting a business partner for dinner at home happens only after their relationship has become more personal. Therefore, most Slovaks will invite their business partners to dine at a local restaurant. There are no written rules on how to begin a conversation or when it is appropriate to talk about business. Mostly, it depends on the host and the business discussion will begin after the meal has been ordered, depending on how much time both parties have. Restaurant Etiquette The host will always choose the restaurant, make the reservation and pay for the meal, including the tip. An invitation to lunch will usually offered during the first meeting, whereas a meeting to finalize the details of a business agreement is usually held in the more formal surrounding of the company’s office. If the invitees will be meeting at the restaurant rather than travelling together, it is recommended to arrive on time. There are no strict rules on where to sit; although if there are only two people, then you will probably sit opposite each other. The dress code for lunch and dinner would be formal business attire, such as a dark coloured suit for men and something equally professional for women. If you are not sure what to wear, it is best to ask the host for advice. Food and Drink In Slovak culture you are not obliged to accept everything you are offered, and truthfully, it is probably better to refuse some things, than to be forced to eat or drink it. The typical national dish is ‘bryndzové halušky’, which is a mixture of potato dumplings ‘halusky’ with ‘bryndza’, a soft Content  Slovak  Republic   businessculture.org    
  • 18.            |  18     crumbly cheese traditionally made by shepherds out of sheep milk. A typical meal will consist of three courses: a cold appetiser or soup, main dish and a dessert; and it really does not make any difference if you finish your food or leave something on the plate. The Slovaks have a beer drinking culture, so they will probably offer beer to their guest. However, guests should feel free to order whatever they prefer to drink. In case of an official business lunch or dinner, or if the occasion calls for it, the host may raise a toast for success with a locally produced alcohol called ‘Slivovice’. Other Issues (Including Restaurant vs Home) Smoking during a business meeting is not uncommon and most places in the Slovak republic still allow smoking, even in restaurants during the lunch service. It is common courtesy to ask whether anyone minds, before you smoke and it is best to follow the lead of your host and their preferences. Business  meeting  tips   • Do not underestimate a Slovak partner, give them enough space during the meeting, listen to their ideas and recommendations and you may be surprised with different ideas and new way of looking at things. • Come prepared and be confident, but not arrogant, because Slovak managers are very sensitive to this. • Do not look down on your Slovak partners, if you want to gain their trust and overcome any perceived distance between you. • You should present your opinions, but not force them on others as as this was an approach that many Slovak managers experienced during the economic transformation, and will likely alienate them as potential partners. • Both partners should come to the meeting table as equals and treat each other with respect and openness; active participation of both sides in the discussion will be taken as a sign of their interest. • If you have the feeling during the meeting that your partner is pessimistic or not active in the discussion due to a lack of understanding or self-confidence, then you should simplify the presentation of your strategy, putting more emphasis on the aims and expected results. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 19.            |  19     Internship  and  placement     Work  experience   A placement involves the placement of a student in a temporary work or research environment to enable them to gain extremely valuable experience that will benefit them in the long term. There are many types of placement, including work placements, school placements and student exchanges. Some companies have placement departments to help integrate new hires into the company. They may also help with paperwork, especially if the candidate is from a different country. Placements are sourced by outside agencies, as well as university departments, and most opportunities are advertised through the internet or university career centres. In fact, most universities have career centres that will support and assist students with placement applications, as well as assistance in finding work that compliments their studies or a permanent position following their graduation. Placements are not common in Slovak companies, even though some companies are trying to implement the system as part of their strategy to bring in newly qualified employees. Most placement opportunities are found with educational institutions looking for research assistants or young foreigners who are targeted to fulfil European Union funding requirements. Some companies are now trying to attract students through attendance at university open days, which give employers access to potential future employees and allow students to explore options that are open to them. As part of policy targeting unemployed students and general unemployment, the government has also instituted a subsidy scheme to assist companies who are able to take on and re-train new workers. Internship  and  placement  advice   The practical needs of a local student will be far less than a foreign student, and placement negotiation would usually be limited to salary and duration. As a foreign student, issues including accommodation, work permit (if needed), insurance, healthcare, taxes, banking and so on, will need to be investigated prior to the submission of a placement application. Social  security  and  European  health  insurance  card   businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 20.            |  20     The healthcare system in the Slovak Republic has been undergoing reform since 2006 and there are still issues with gaps in coverage provided by government funded healthcare services. The public healthcare that is available is quite good, but there are a growing number of private hospitals and clinics. In the event of an accident or for emergency medical assistance, the international number for the emergency services is 112. For local assistance in the Slovak language, dial 155 for the ambulance service. If the ailment is something less serious like a migraine or headache, going to a ‘Lekaren’, which is the Slovak name for a chemist or local pharmacy, is the best solution. Although some services will be provided free of charge through the national healthcare system on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), hospitalization and various other services will be payable, either in cash or through private insurance. Safety • Emergency telephone numbers are: 155 for the ambulance service and 158 for the police, with communication in Slovak; and 112 for international access to all the emergency services. • The electric voltage in the country is 220 V; 50 Hz. • Tap water is safe to drink. • The speed limits are 50 km/h within inhabited areas; 90 km/h outside inhabited areas, 110km/h for motorway and 130 km/h on highways. Do  l  need  a  visa?   Citizens of European Union are allowed to travel between EU member states and the Slovak Republic without a visa. Residents of the United States are allowed to visit the Slovak Republic for a maximum of 90 days without requiring a visa, unless they intend to work or study. Most visitors from the rest of the world will need to apply for a visa, except where there is an agreement in place between the two countries. Temporary residence permits are available to those who wish to remain in the Slovak Republic longer than 90 days and who are able to meet certain criteria required by the government. Internship  and  placement  salary   A salary should be agreed before the start of the placement and that agreement is between the student and the company. Some countries have a minimum hourly rate salary that is applicable to most or all employment situations. You should also consult with the company about your tax situation and whose responsibility it will be to pay income tax, national insurance contributions and health insurance. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 21.            |  21     Internship  and  placement  accommodation   Most local universities have dormitories or halls of residence available to both local and foreign students. This accommodation is generally cheaper than renting a private flat. Some companies might also provide accommodation for their employees, as a form of company benefit or compensation for low wages. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 22.            |  22     Cost  of  Living     The standard of living in the Slovak Republic is comparable to other eastern and central European countries, which is typically lower than western European countries. Money  and  banking   The Slovak Republic joined the single European currency on the 1st of January 2009, adopting the Euro at a rate of 30.1260 Slovak Koruna to one Euro. The Slovak Republic has many commercial, mortgage and investment banks. If you are going to work in the Slovak Republic, you may need to open a local bank account, so that your salary can be paid into it. All major credit cards are accepted but personal cheques are not acceptable. Opening a bank account is easy; you will need to show a form of photo identification (normally a student ID card and/or a valid Passport) along with proof of address. Nine of the ten biggest banks in the Slovak Republic are owned by large foreign banks, which could be of benefit for companies thinking of investing in Slovakia; as companies that already have a business relationship with one of these parent banks may find it easier to open accounts at local Slovak banks and arrange financing. Travelling  costs   For placements in any of the big cities, transportation should not be a problem. Slovak public transportation is efficient, clean and punctual and is the easiest and fastest mode of transportation in the capital and country at large. There are various student discounts available on production of a valid student card, including the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 23.            |  23     Work-­‐life  Balance     Slovaks are prepared to work long hours because of the high unemployment levels and minimal state social benefits for the unemployed. So, people have been sacrificing their work-life balance in favour of providing for their families and maintaining a good standard of living. European labour laws state specifically that no one should work more than eight and a half hours per day, unless there is a contractual agreement in place between the parties concerned. However, Slovak employees have the same problems as their western counterparts with companies not respecting employment legislation; things like working longer hours than allowed by the law, short annual leave, no paternity leave, no flexible working hours, no help with day care for working mothers and so on. Companies that don’t want to lose their best employees are beginning to offer additional benefits like flexible working hours for working mothers, parental leave for fathers, time-off to study and many other benefits that would have been impossible five short years ago. National  holidays   These are the dates of public holidays (bank holiday): • 1st of January, Emergence of Slovakia and New Year • 6th of January, Feast of the Epiphany • Good Friday and Easter Monday, (Easter falls on a different date in late March or early April each year) • 1st May, International Workers’ Day • 8th May, Day of freedom from fascism • 5th July, Slavic Apostles Cyril and Metodius • 29th August, Slovak National Uprising • 1st September, Day of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic • 15th September, Day of Our Lady of Sorrows • 1st November, All Saints’ Day • 17th November, Day of the Velvet Revolution, the date riot police suppressed a student protest leading to the fall of the Communist Party. • 24th December, Christmas Eve • 25th December, Christmas Day In the Slovak Republic, all employees are entitled to four weeks holiday in a year, normally divided as one week in winter and three weeks in summer. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 24.            |  24     Working  Hours   The Slovak Republic officially limits working hours to 40 hours per week and employees get annual vacation of at least 20 working days. If an employee is asked to work overtime, this must not exceed 52 hours a week and there must be an agreement in writing between both parties. In specific situations, a collective agreement or individual agreement may provide that working time for seasonal jobs may exceed 52 hours, but not more than 60 hours a week. Work  culture   The work culture in the Slovak Republic is quite formal and structured. The people pride themselves as been highly qualified and productive but you still have to keep a close eye on them so that they don’t slack off. Slovak Republic has a number of legal measures protecting workers. All companies have to adhere to government regulations in the areas of health and safety, discrimination, minimum wage levels, part-time employment, and equal opportunities. Health  insurance   The Slovak social security system and all its departments are under the control of the state, which provides services including health care, pensions, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, childrelated benefits and many more. While all Slovak citizens are guaranteed healthcare by the state, hospitals are funded through several independent and commercial health insurance companies. All companies registered in the Slovak Commercial Register must pay a percentage of their employee’s gross salaries toward social security and health insurance funds. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 25.            |  25     Social  Media  Guide     The popularity of social media usage in the Slovak Republic is on the rise, like the rest of Eastern Europe. Facebook usage has grown exponentially in the last couple of years and the trend looks like continuing in the next few years. The number of registered Facebook users, as of the 1st November 2012, is 2,060,860 and it had grown by 112,120 in the prior six months. This means Facebook has a penetration of 37.78% of the country’s population and 47.51% in relation to the total number of Internet users. The largest age group is currently 25 to 34 year olds with a total of 600,760 users, followed by users in the age range of 18 to 24 and then 35 to 44. The ratio of male to female Facebook users is 48% to 52%, respectively. LinkedIn is very popular as a networking site for professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as university students who are using it to promote themselves to potential employers. Many head hunting agencies also use LinkedIn as a reference point to check for potential clients. Twitter is not really popular in the Slovak Republic, but it does seem to be on an upwards trend. Almost 80% of the general population are internet users and around 75% of Slovak households have internet access. The total number of internet users in the Slovak Republic is 4,337,868, which is about 79.2% of the population as at June 30th, 2012. SMEs   Most companies in the Slovak Republic now have some form of presence on the internet, some just have a company website, while others have a Facebook page or have joined Linkedin. Many of these social media networks are used for different things, by different companies. The service sector, especially hotels and restaurants, are heavy users of social media for both promoting their services and reacting to public comments about their establishment. Businesses ask their customers to like them on social media, so that their customers’ friends will see the comments. By controlling and reacting to comments on social media, these companies are able to react to customers concerns in a timely fashion, which helps them control their image or improve people’s opinion of them. businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 26.            |  26     Some companies use Linkedin to advertise vacancies and find potential employees. These companies can also encourage their employees to join different groups on Linkedin that might be beneficial to the company. Technology and manufacturing companies have been attracted to YouTube because video is an excellent means of showcasing products and demonstrating process improvements. YouTube also has the highest daily traffic of all social media network and many major companies use it to advertise current products and introduce new products for immediate customer comment, which allows companies’ to shorten the feedback cycle and improve customer relations.The biggest users of social media sites for advertising are internet shops selling fashion, mobile technology, household goods and everyday products, auction sites and dating sites. Most of them use local search engines like Zoznam.sk, google.sk, atlas.sk and centrum.sk because they are more visible to local customers. Search  and  Social  Media  Marketing  for  International  Business   Learn how to use social media for business from one of Salford Business School’s latest business management courses. The course was jointly researched by the Passport to Trade 2.0 project team and prepared in collaboration with some of the leading digital marketing agencies in the UK. This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can help businesses and individuals to make the best use of search and social media platforms. The course is called Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business and is applicable to students looking for placements abroad as well as businesses thinking about new trade links; it comprises the following twelve topics: How to develop a personal brand online (1/12) • • Whether you are a student beginning a job search or a business person planning a new business venture, personal branding can make a difference. Learn about personal branding and why it is important for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=l9LYw0mgtn4&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 27.            |  27     How to use Twitter (2/12) • • Learn the basics of using Twitter to develop an individual or business profile. Remember to use hash tag #SSMMUoS to share your learning journey on this course so far! http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9CVY3pp91Dc&feature=playe r_embedded How to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3/12) • • Learn the principles of SEO to ensure that your website and any social media profiles are found by individuals searching for your name, products and services. These basic principles of SEO include keyword research, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=zw27cRcwtM0&feature=player _embedded How to use social media for international business development (4/12) • • Social media networks break down the traditional country barriers, but do you know which networks are relevant for the country you are interested in trading with? Find out in this video how to identify the relevant networks and what social media strategies you might be able to use on these networks. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Bx-B56AHS4c&feature= player_embedded businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 28.            |  28     How to use Facebook (5/12) • • Facebook is currently the largest social media network in the world and it can benefit you as a business as well as an individual. Learn how to develop a Facebook business page and see how other businesses use it and what strategies work for them. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UmRGn-vdcO8&feature= player_embedded How to use YouTube (6/12) • • YouTube was identified as the second largest social network amongst younger internet users as part of the Passport to Trade 2.0 project. Learn how to optimise your video content in order to reach wider audiences for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=G2 0OVpmTBss How to use LinkedIn (7/12) • • LinkedIn is one of the three main professional social networks – the others being Xing and Viadeo which are also popular in several European countries. Learn how to make the most of LinkedIn for your profile. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=N6e_EAUQqic&feature=playe r_embedded businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 29.            |  29     How to use Google+ (8/12) • • • Google+ is the second largest social network as of January 2013. It is one of the fastest growing social networks and one that has the biggest impact when it comes to search engine results integration for anyone who uses Google as their main search engine. Learn how to make the most of Google+ for you and your digital profiles. http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=8ti 3SPHkEWw How to use copywriting online (9/12) • • Copywriting is a process of translating technical specifications and product descriptions into engaging and understandable customer focused text. Learn about the basic techniques in structuring your online content here. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=5f1hx_f2ONI&feature=player_ embedded How to stay legal on social media (10/12) • • Everything and anything you do and say online can be potentially viewed by anyone who has internet access. Always respect the law and familiarise yourself with new options offered to you through a creative commons licence which is popular online. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=eQxDpiHsdk&feature=player_embedde d businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 30.            |  30     How to use monitoring and reporting (11/12) • • Whether you are an individual or a business spending time on social media – there has to be a return on your engagement online. How do you justify your engagement on social media to your boss? Listen to the industry experts in this area and see what you might be able to measure in respect of your on-line engagements. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=LbEq7jsG0jg&feature=player_ embedded How to blog (12/12) • • http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=OqVjR7oI8Rs&feature=player _embedded businessculture.org     • Blogging is a process of writing text and sharing content with others. It can help your customers or friends to keep in-touch regardless of social media platforms. Think about the voice you might want to adopt and who your audience might be. Share your thoughts with us by writing a blog post about this MOOC. Tweet us the link to your post on the #SSMMUoS Twitter hash tag. Content  Slovak  Republic  
  • 31.              |  31   Passport  to  Trade  2.0  Project  Partnership   Five Universities: Lead partner: Salford Business School, University of Salford, United Kingdom Elena Vasilieva Aleksej Heinze Alex Fenton URENIO research unit at Aristole University of Thessaloniki, Greece Christina Kakderi Nitsa Papadopouloui TSE Entre Research Centre Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland Satu Aaltonen Elisa Akola Institute for Information System Research University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany Verena Hausmann Susan P. Williams Petra Schubert Valahia University of Targoviste, Romania Adriana Grigorescu Leonardo Badea Three Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Spin, Italy Carmine Antonio Donato Dorella De Tommaso Technology Development & Innovation – TDI LTD Bulgaria Milanka Slavova Ivan Stoychev TIS Praha, Czech Republic Anna Klosova Richard Adekeye businessculture.org     Content  Slovak  Republic