We unleash the power of diversity
In a successful collaboration between Markaryd Municipality and TPL Ljungby, five new employees have been hired and integrated into the Swedish labor market. For Sahar Hassani from Afghanistan, the new job was a real game changer.
The seed for the successful collaboration between Markaryd Municipality and PostNord TPL Ljungby was an article in the local paper about TPL Ljungbys’ big new e-commerce customer. Onboarding the new client meant that TPL was looking to hire up to 200 new co-workers to handle upcoming work peaks, such as Black Friday and Christmas. And to fill those spots, TPL Ljungby needed to look beyond their own county.
That’s when neighboring municipality Markaryd stepped in and introduced a solution to help support both newly arrived residents and TPL. Markaryd created a brand-new program for newly arrived immigrants who often have a hard time getting a foot in the door of the Swedish labor market.
During the four-week-long training program, 20 people were given the unique opportunity to both study Swedish and learn how the Swedish labor market works. The trainees learned about labor laws and regulations, maternity leave, and sick days, as well as how to write a CV and behave in a job interview. Things that may be taken for granted by someone born and raised here, like the fact that “eight o’clock” means “eight o’clock sharp”, were also covered.
The language barrier was the main obstacle for most applicants as basic Swedish communication skills are required for employment. Nonetheless, after four weeks of training, TPL hired five of the applicants.
”If we had a good general feeling about the person, we wanted to give them a chance, even if their Swedish skills needed improvement. When given the opportunity to work with us, many have proven to be very professional and they do a fantastic job,” says Johan Nyman, Team Leader at TPL Ljungby.
He emphasizes the value of diversity: “We live in a multicultural society, and our staff must reflect that. We are a multicultural company and aim for equal gender distribution. In Ljungby we are almost 50 percent men and 50 percent women.” However, diversity comes with its own challenges. One is understanding each other despite different cultural backgrounds and upbringings. Still, Johan only sees advantages with a more diverse work team. “It means we must rethink things and do better as an employer. We must develop our training programs and our communication for new employees, and use more visual training aids like videos, to make it easier for new employees to get into our work processes.”
ONE OF THE newly integrated members of the TPL family is 22-year-old Sahar Hassani from Afghanistan. She arrived here three years ago and testifies that integrating into Swedish society is difficult.
”It was hard in the beginning. Hard to understand both the language and how the Swedish society works,” Sahar explains. Eager to establish a new life here, she started learning Swedish at home through YouTube.
“But I knew I needed to get out of my apartment and find a job to get to know people,” she says.
Sahar, who is a midwife, looked for jobs everywhere. She was determined to make it in her new country – a country where women have the opportunity to be part of the labor market and to be equal to men.
May 9, 2022 was a big turning point for Sahar. That’s when she was employed by PostNord TPL and really started to integrate in the Swedish society.
“When I started learning Swedish and got to know people, everything felt better. It was great to study and work at the same time. It’s hard to make friends in Sweden, but now I have my colleagues in Markaryd,” Sahar says.
To Sahar, the job also means being independent, making her own money, and becoming a part of the labor market. It has changed her life.
“Thank God I got the job! Everything is great, my colleagues, the work environment, my salary. I’m very social and I like talking to everyone. We all come from different countries, but everyone here is my friend.”
She feels safe in her new home country.
“In Afghanistan, women are not allowed to study or work, we couldn’t go to the gym, ride a bike, or go bowling. It was really difficult,” Sahar explains.
Working and living here has opened new doors. Now she plans to move into her own apartment closer to work and is counting the days until her husband can also come to Sweden. Currently, she is also teaching a new Swedish employee how things work at TPL.
Team Leader Johan Nyman is pleased to have Sahar on his team. “I have a great work team and I’m happy to see them develop and grow. We hope that we can continue to collaborate with the municipalities and integrate more people into the labor market,” he concludes.