Ukraine flag Ukraine: Business Environment

Business Practices in Ukraine

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Commisceo Global, Ukrainian business culture as per Commisceo Global
Opening Hours and Days
Offices open at 9 am. The work day starts at 9am and ends at 5pm, from Monday to Friday.
Weekly resting days are Saturday and Sunday.

Public Holidays

New Year January 1st
Orthodox Christmas January 7th
Day of International Solidarity of Workers May 1st
Day of International Solidarity of Workers. May 2nd
Victory Day. May 5th.
Day of the Holy Trinity May 30th
Holy Trinity. June 7th.
Constitution Day June 28th.
Independence Day. August 24th.
Holiday Compensation
If the public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, Ukrainian legislation provides for a holiday on the Monday.

If a public holiday falls on a Thursday, then it is possible to have an extended weekend: the Friday could be a day off.


Periods When Companies Usually Close

New year's vacation from December 31st to January 8th (sometimes 14th).
Summer vacation Generally July or August depending on the company.

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Business culture in Ukraine has been shaped by the country's long history of turbulent economic times, unstable governments, the Soviet rule as well as deeply entrenched traditional and religious values. Constant foreign invasions and limited interaction with the West until the fall of Soviet Union have also made some Ukrainians wary of foreigners. Thus, trustworthiness and loyalty have become some of the key values that help when engaging in business with Ukrainians.

Most Ukrainian firms have a traditional organisational structure and hierarchies are clearly defined with several mid-level managers. Subordinates were traditionally not expected to come up with ideas or give their feedback. Ideas were generated by the manager or their immediate subordinates, and presented by the most senior person. Consequently, some mid- or low-level Ukrainian professionals may be reluctant to engage in negotiations or share their opinion. Nevertheless, decision-making process is changing slowly in multi-national firms that have adopted a more Western approach, with subordinates being encouraged to give feedback.

Ukrainians tend to have a rather cautious approach when engaging in business with foreigners and seek business associates that they can trust and with whom they can work on long-term projects. Ukrainians like to do business with people they know well and can sometimes prefer their acquaintance over recommendations. It is important to present oneself as as a trustworthy person and get to know the Ukrainian counterpart through small talk and business entertainment activities.

First Contact
Appointments are difficult to arrange in advance and need to be confirmed shortly before a meeting by phone or e-mail. Most Ukrainians highly value trustworthiness in business relationships, and it is a good idea to reach out to a local contact to help with introductions. Ukrainian professionals may seem distant and suspicious of foreigners at first; however, they will open up and feel more comfortable once a certain level of trust has been established. As the majority of Ukrainians are not very proficient in English, it is better to translate any handout material into Ukrainian prior to the meeting and check whether an interpreter will be necessary.
Time Management
Ukrainians have a looser view of time: however, foreigners are expected to arrive at meetings on time. They may be kept waiting. Punctuality usually applies to subordinates rather than to everyone. The higher a person’s rank, the less punctual the person may be. Meetings tend to be structured loosely. There may be an agenda, but it serves as a guideline for the discussion and acts as a springboard to other related business ideas. Meetings may also start late and run overtime.
Greetings and Titles
Handshakes are the most common form of greeting in Ukraine. A relatively firm handshake with the right hand is most common. Female associates, especially if they know each other well, may greet each other with one kiss on the cheek. Men can greet women with a simple nod instead of a handshake. Ukrainians tend to use patronymics – the person’s father’s name added on to the end and is used as a middle name (adding "-vich" or "-ovich" for a male and "-avna", "-ovna", or "ivna" for a female). In formal situations, people use all three names. Common titles vary depending on the ethnic community: Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians use common Ukrainian titles:  Pan (Mr) and Pani (Mrs) whereas Russian-speaking Ukrainians use Russian common titles Gospodin (Mr) and Gospozha (Mrs).
Gift Policy
Gift giving is not too common in a business setting. Close business associates may exchange gifts on the Orthodox Christmas.
Dress Code
Ukrainians pay a lot of attention to their dress and appearance, especially in the workplace. Status is often shown through clothing and accessories. Men should wear a toned-down and classic suit and tie; while women should wear a suit, skirt and heels. The attire should be stylish yet conservative. Business casual attire is not too common but could be acceptable depending on the industry.
Business Cards
There is no protocol surrounding the exchange of business cards. It is a good idea to have one side of the card translated into Ukrainian. The card should also include any advanced university degrees. When exchanging business cards with Ukrainian professionals, foreigners should pay attention to their job titles: 'Manager' is commonly used to describe many middle and low-rank positions.
Meetings Management
Some small talk before and at the end of  a meeting is common, and it is important to wait for the Ukrainian counterpart to bring up business before delving into negotiations. Meetings tend to be long as Ukrainians can easily tackle items that are not part of the jointly agreed agenda.

It is important to remain patient as negotiations tend to be lengthy and cumbersome. Ukrainians would like to see data that prove the trustworthiness of the foreign company. On the other hand, they treat even basic data as confidential (number of staff, turnover, etc.) and may be reluctant to give too much information about their own company until a certain level of trust has been reached. The information can be difficult to get on the phone but can be obtained at a meeting when a link is established. The government plays an important role in business and it is important both for Ukrainian and foreign companies to know people in governing bodies.

The level of relationship determines the way Ukrainians communicate with their foreign counterparts. They are most likely to remain cautious and indirect at the initial stages of the relationship; however, they prefer a quite direct approach in later stages of negotiations. Nevertheless, it is advisable to remain calm and courteous both during first meetings and later on. Ukrainians may want to sign a memorandum of understanding at the end of meetings. Even if this is not a legally binding document, it is still regarded as an important part of the partnership process.

Business entertaining is an important part of the negotiation process. Toasts, drinking and dinners are the most common type of interactions with Ukrainians outside of the office. Negotiations may continue over meals; however, it is better to take cues from the Ukrainian counterpart in this regard. Ukrainians also tend to hold business meetings with a meal at their home more often than in Western Europe.

Sources for Further Information
Commisceo Global - Ukraine Business Etiquette Ukraine Doing Business Guide Culture Crossing - Ukraine Business Culture

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Latest Update: July 2024