International business leaders give positive reviews on Finland’s management of the COVID-19 crisis – express concern over company support measures and an uncertain economic outlook


EK surveyed top international business leaders living in Finland on their experiences of Finland’s management of the COVID-19 crisis and the impact of COVID-19 on attracting foreign talents to Finland in the future. According to respondents, Finland’s successful management of the crisis increases the country’s attractiveness as a safe and organized society but prolonged economic uncertainty and restrictions on international travel can keep foreign talent at bay in the future.

Attracting foreign talent is a key solution to the increasing talent shortages faced by Finnish companies, which will only fortify when the economy picks up in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. For this reason, EK surveyed top international business leaders on their experiences of Finland’s management of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on attracting foreign talent to Finland in the future. The survey was answered by over 60 respondents holding significant leadership positions in corporations or growth companies based in Finland.

The key results can be summarized as follows:

  • The majority of respondents find that Finland has been successful in the management of the COVID-19 crisis. A safe and organized society increases Finland’s attractiveness in the eyes of foreign talent.
  • The respondents are most critical of support measures for companies that have been considered inadequate, complicated, or slow. Authorities’ communication regarding the COVID-19 situation also left more to be desired: guidelines have been somewhat unclear and communication in English insufficient.
  • One third of respondents believe that the COVID-19 crisis will have a significant impact on getting foreign talent to Finland in the future. A safe environment and a highly organized and digitalized society are Finland’s strongholds that can be marketed to foreign talents.
  • An uncertain economic outlook can, however, have a negative impact on Finland’s ability to attract top international talent in the future. As international travel becomes more restricted, Finland’s location may also serve as a disadvantage for foreign talent looking to relocate.

– The number of international top talents in Finland has increased at a promising rate prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. Demand for top foreign talents will only increase as the society recovers and companies need new makers for growth. A safe reopening of the society and a reconstruction of the economy are crucial also for ensuring that the influx of new international talent will continue into the future, notes EK Director-General Jyri Häkämies.

– I am personally very impressed by Finland’s innovativeness, digital maturity, and ability to tackle tough situations such as the covid-19 crisis. Being pragmatic, solution-oriented and forward-looking are the trademarks of Finland. We should apply the same can-do attitude and efficiency when it comes to attracting foreign talent. Finland has so much to offer: we just need to promote it much more and highlight all the positive aspects of living and working here,” says Miriam Holstein, CEO of Bayer Nordic Region and the Chair of EK’s International Directors’ Advisory Board.

EK sent the survey to about 200 international business leaders in responsible positions who live either permanently or temporarily in Finland. The business leaders work either in a Finnish or foreign company based in Finland. The survey received 63 responses from international business leaders during May-June 2020.