Working Culture in Greece

What is work culture? Work culture is, in a nutshell, how things work in a workplace. Attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and values, the way of management and leadership. It is the generally spoken and unspoken rules that make you fit or not in a workplace; sometimes they are also written and they will be given to you in the first days of your work there. Keep in mind that you will have to follow the culture of a company in order to have a fruitful collaboration with your colleagues, coworkers and managers.

What Do I need to know about work culture in Greece?

Work language: Greek is the official language that is spoken in the workplace. English is spoken by many people, especially the young, and in international companies or organizations rather than small local businesses. If you want to maximize your opportunities to find a job, taking Greek language lessons is a wise choice.

Greetings: maintain direct eye contact when you greet someone. Speak formally by using formalities such as “Mister” or “Madame” if it’s the first time you meet them, especially if they are older than you.

1st impressions: They always play an important role! Present yourself neatly and professionally in a conservative style and take care of your hygiene either on a job interview or on the 1st day on your new job. Be open to meet your new colleagues and managers and positive towards this new experience!

Relationship building: relationships play an important role in Greek work culture. Third party introductions can help a lot in finding a job or earning a promotion. Try to connect with your colleagues, accept invitations for after-office activities or join them for lunch! It’s a way to socialize and build your network.

Communication: Greeks prefer face-to-face communications except when it comes to important work-related issues where written communication is the best way to address them. Avoid discussions on political or religious issues at work because they may cause confrontations. If you want to open an issue like this, opt for discussion rather than confrontation.

Diversity in the Workplace: it is important to respect people who are different in your eyes in general but also in the workplace. Respect gender, religion, culture, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and physical or mental disabilities. Equality in the workplace is strongly supported in Greece. If you feel that someone doesn’t respect your diverse traits, discuss it directly with him/her or with your supervisor/manager.

Dress code: there is usually no specific dress code but try to look good, dress conservatively and keep a good personal hygiene. You can always ask your colleagues or manager to see if there is certain dress code policy in the company/organization. Avoid wearing clothes with offensive words or pictures, provocative clothes or open toe shoes to go to work.

Working hours: 8h/5days is a full-time shift, 4h/day is a part time shift. Be prepared to work overtime since this is very common in Greece. Employers usually pay overtime but it is not always insured. Your shift and work week depend on the field/sector in which you work. Ask your manager or supervisor, from the 1st days at work, about the policy on working overtime and how you can be well prepared for this situation beforehand.

Breaks: each company/organization has a certain policy for breaks and smoking. The break is a minimum of 15 min and a maximum of 30 min during a working day. This is a general guideline. Take the breaks as an opportunity to eat, rest or socialize with your colleagues. From the 1st days in your new job ask your supervisor for these policies.

Days off and public holidays: in certain job sectors public holidays are not days off for the employees. These sectors are mainly restaurants/cafes and hospitality. You can take your days off in other days during the year, and your wage for your work on these special days will be higher. Days off is one the issues that you can discuss with your supervisor or HR manager since there are certain policies in different sectors.

Sick leave: in case you feel sick to go to work you must inform your supervisor or HR manager as soon as possible. If this happens during work do the same thing in order to leave. Inform them again if your absence is going to be for more than one day.

Leaving a job: in case you want to leave your job you must inform your manager or supervisor at least one week before your leave. Ask your HR manager or supervisor for the policy they have in the company for this issue. However, have in mind that staying in a position until the end of your contract is important. A good retention period shows responsibility and commitment. In addition, maintaining good relationships with old colleagues and managers may open new doors in your professional future.