Poland flag Poland: Business Environment

Business Practices in Poland

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Kwint Essential
Commisceo Global, Polish business culture as per Commisceo Global
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Opening Hours and Days
Working hours are from 8am to 4pm from Monday to Friday.
The days off are Saturday and Sunday.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January
Epiphany 6 January
Easter April (no fixed date)
Labor Day 1 May
Constitution Day 1791 3 May
Corpus Christi May-June (no fixed date)
Ascension 15 August
All Saints 1 November
National Independence Day 11 November
Christmas 25 and 26 December
Holiday Compensation

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Summer holidays 2 months in July and August

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Polish business culture bears traces of the country's Soviet-era past and history of foreign influence, and as such some professionals may be suspicious of foreign business associates. Nevertheless, the business culture has been in a process of transformation ever since Poland adopted capitalism and the younger generation has embraced values and a work ethic not too far from that found in Western Europe.

Most Polish firms are hierarchical and decisions are made from the top down. Polish subordinates show great respect for hierarchy and authority but also age and education level, and will most likely to defer to their senior colleagues for the decision-making process. Subordinates are not expected to be assertive and take initiative. Negotiations tend to take a long time as the Polish are interested in getting to know their foreign counterparts to see if they are trustworthy.

Personal relationships are important in Poland, especially as a way to establish trust. Initial meetings usually help show your Polish counterparts that you are an honest and trustworthy business partner. During the Communist era, many Polish had to rely on personal connections to obtain information, navigate around the bureaucracy or get access to authority figures. Therefore, some people may continue to use personal contacts to further objectives.
First Contact
Polish business contacts may be wary of foreign professionals they do not know well. It is advisable to make initial contact through a third party who can help establish a trusting relationship. Unlike other countries where business may be conducted by telephone or by e-mail, in Poland it is preferable to meet interlocutors face-to-face and discuss things in person.
Time Management
Punctuality is taken quite seriously and foreigners are expected to show up on time to meetings, even if Polish professionals may be late. It is important to plan meetings in advance and confirm appointments upon arrival in Poland and the day before the meeting. While meetings may have a set agenda, they often extend beyond the scheduled time.
Greetings and Titles
It is common to greet people with a firm handshake and keeping eye contact during meetings is considered very important. It is also advisable to shake hands with everyone when arriving at and leaving a meeting. Men should wait for a woman to hold her hand out before extending theirs. Some older businessmen may kiss a female associate's hand upon meeting as a sign of respect. Foreign businessmen are not encouraged or expected to do so. Titles are somewhat important in Poland and it is recommended to use person's title and their surname until invited to use their first name. An appropriate way to address Polish associates would be to use Pan (Mr.) for men and Pani (Mrs.) for women along with their surnames.
Gift Policy
Gift giving is somewhat common after an initial meeting, deal closings and successful negotiations. A corporate gift or a souvenir from your country are appropriate as long as they are not overtly expensive or elaborate. If invited to a Polish home, it is recommended to bring quality wine/spirits, fine chocolates/sweets or flowers (except for yellow chrysanthemums, lilies, and carnations, which are associated with funerals). Gifts are usually opened immediately.
Dress Code
Work attire tends to be formal and conservative. A stylish and dark coloured suit is appropriate for men and business suits or dresses/trousers and blouses are appropriate for women in corporate settings. Both genders are expected to dress smartly and be well-groomed. It is not uncommon for female employees to wear high heels and quite a lot of make-up. Business attire can be less formal in smaller cities and companies.
Business Cards
There is no specific protocol surrounding the exchange of business cards. Cards are usually exchanged at the end of a first meeting and should ideally be translated into Polish on one side. It is best to treat card with respect.
Meetings Management
Business meetings usually start with some small talk. However, Polish associates can also delve into negotiations rather quickly. It is recommended to let them begin and end negotiations in order not to appear too hasty. It might be useful to bring an interpreter as not all Polish professionals are fluent in English.

Presentations should be clear, accurate and detailed but not too elaborate. It is important to have charts and figures to back up your offer and claims. It is also recommended to maintain direct eye contact while speaking. As decisions are made at the top, it is important to draw the attention of the most senior person at the meeting. Bargaining is not commonly used as a negotiation strategy. Polish business associates can argue against your terms rather fiercely if put under pressure. Aggressive behaviour is considered somewhat justified when people feel they are unduly criticised or insulted. Lengthy silences for contemplation are not uncommon.

Polish professionals are known to be direct communicators and believe that it is better for both parties to express their thoughts openly than to use indirect or coded phrasing. The level of openness may seem blunt to some foreigners; however, it is advisable to match this direct communication style by expressing your views clearly and candidly. That being said, it is also important to avoid appearing as though you are only interested in the outcome of the deal. Polish business contacts will seek an honest commitment to the process and will not shy away from displaying emotions as a sign of openness and honesty. They also expect their foreign counterparts to debate lively, while remaining polite and courteous. The Polish also tend to have a discerning eye for fairness and can get wary of your trustworthiness or business integrity.

Business lunches and dinners are common, but primarily for getting to know foreign associates. Small talk can be extended until the dessert and Polish business partners may indicate the subject change. Business plans can even be discussed after the table is cleared. While Polish associates appreciate having your final answer at lunch or dinner, they will expect the negotiation to be concluded in a more formal setting.
Sources for Further Information
Culture Crossing - Poland Business Guide Business Culture - Poland Business Etiquette Cultural Atlas - Polish Business Culture

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Latest Update: June 2024