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Norwegian Welfare

An overview on Norwegian Unemployment and social benefits (NAV)

When superior technologies emerge, old ones don’t just fade away. This article contains information concerning the internal and external processes at the Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service (NAV).

The Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service aim at helping unemployed people to receive employment or in case of not having a job, they will be provided 62,4 % of their earlier income as day money. The unemployment department, social security department and social benefit department were emerged in 2006 in a pilot project for duration of 9 years. Their goal is to test if this merger can bring better solution to their current problems. Many employees either changed their jobs or quit their positions as they were unhappy with the change.

The oil-rich Norway has informed people that the jobless rate rose to its highest level in two and a half years in January. However Norway still has the lowest jobless rates in Europe. The Norwegian labor office said the unemployment rate hit 2.6 percent — up from 2.0 percent in December and 1.8 percent a year ago. According to Tor Saglie, the ex-director of the National Labor and Welfare Administration, unemployment has increased sharply in January and we have to look back to the early 1990s to see a similar increase. The administration said the construction sector has been especially hard hit by the global financial turmoil, with a 129 percent rise in unemployment from 12 months earlier, while industrial sector unemployment rose 75 percent during the year. The figures come four days after Norway’s coalition government announced a 20 billion kroner ($2.9 billion) package intended to dampen the impact of a global financial crisis at home with increased spending on infrastructure and tax cuts.

This reminded me a few years back when Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service (NAV) director Tor Saglie showed his concern in 2006 that Norway’s unemployment level is headed so low it would pose a manpower crisis. He declared that the unemployment rates in many parts of Norway are now dangerously low in 2006!source:

Unemployment problem in Norway Today the unemployment increased dramatically and those who lost their jobs and need their day money from Nav Arbeid have gone through long queue and waiting time especially in Oslo. When the Norwegian government questioned why these people are waiting uselessly, no answer was received so the government put the head of the NAV department under question that if he does not come up with the right answer he might face the prison.

Right after this threat from the government, many substitute NAV employees lost their jobs and their work contract was not renewed for duration of another year. As a result they could not continue their jobs at the Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service (NAV) unemployment department and went to stand behind the queue like the other unemployed people. This was their ” so called ” wise decision. This was an answer to why those who supposed to receive day money are not getting their day money from NAV as soon as possible.

People are very unhappy and frustrated with most of the NAV offices for instance NAV Lerkendal in Trondheim. Most of the people have complained that their papers were missed at the desk where they submitted them. They were/are asked to send their papers again. These documentations contain people’s sensitive information such as: their bank account number, social security number and such. Can you imagine how disastrous the problem can be? Some of the NAV employees are not competent enough to answer to people’s very simple questions! When people write email, their email either get unanswered and ignored or if they receive an answer from a NAV employee, s/he writes a cliché reply for instance: “Come to the office and ask me personally” or “I don’t have time to reply your email because we have many cases to work on” and attached another email for the person to write a general email maybe someone out there would answer to the person’s questions. The strange part is that the consultant could have answered to the person’s question right there through email. This proves that she (the consultant) could not answer to the person’s question and came up with an excuse that she did not have time to reply his email. How weird is that?! How sad is to deal with such incompetent consultants and putting your lives under their hands to decide whether you get your money or not.

Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service Quality Work

I have been observing the quality of NAV employees work flow since 2004. Most of them are not very familiar with the oracle based system (called: ARENA) where they should manage people’s cases such as their background, unemployment status, resume etc. They are able to apply a part of the system. These employees have been working at Arbeidskontoret (The Work office)( NAV’s old name) the name changed to ( AETAT) and now it is called (NAV Arbeid) some of these employees have more than 20 years work experience, however they still cannot master NAV’s administrative Arena system. This is why most of the cases take a long time to solve.

Some of these employees worked as a captain of the boat or mechanics. Those who have the right background in sociology, psychology and economy, get jobs such as front desk tasks which is to receive people’s papers in order to precede their cases. People are not placed at the right assignments at NAV.

It’s frustrating to attend at their unemployment courses as they treat adults like children.Consultants who are assigned to follow up a group of unemployed people under their daily tasks, ask the same questions every three months of follow ups. This frustrates candidates as they have to repeat themselves again and again. They do it although they wrote in a candidate’s log about their meetings with candidates.

Internal work environment at Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service (NAV)

Most of the NAV offices do not have a reliable and systematic archive system. Each region has centralized the phone system and each applicant will be go through support in order to be connected to the respective consultant. At front desk, applicants’ papers cannot be archived right which results losing their sensitive information. Many people have complained that they received several phone calls from NAV consultants complaining about why they did not sent their papers and documentations! While those people have already sent their papers, but their papers were lost or did not archive at NAV. This problem has frustrated people and many individuals have threaten NAV to uncover these problems to VG ( the Norwegian official newspaper). This problem has been there especially at NAV Lerkendal in Trondheim for many years. And changing the leaders and department managers did not solve the problem! What can be the problem?

According to Frp-leader Siv Jensen :(published in October 24th 2009) Tor Sagli has shown bad leadership and must end his position at NAV. Source in Norwegian NRK. no: ( 1.6833531)

Although there are a lot of courses and programs almost every two weeks at the NAV officies, but employees still canot answer to people’s questions in regards to their needs. Some of these courses are not relevant in regards to their current problems. Some of the jobs funding strategies that NAV Arbeid recommends to people are wrong. During the discussion, employees don’t get opportunity to come up with ideas and if they come up with some ideas, they cannot be implemented in the system. Because it is so complicated that they don’t dare to apply a new idea and put it into practice for improvement purposes. SO these courses become some boring classes where employees look at their watches when lunch time comes so they can eat a warm lunch and talk about everything except the work.

Norwegian Welfare and Employment Service-Internal processes

There is not much of the spirit of co-operation among NAV’s employees. For example: Some employees have better status than the others for instance those who work at the Attforing department have higher status than the others. What is an attforing case? when a person is unable to work at his current job because of some physical disabilities or psychological problems, s/he receives financial support from NAV arbeid (Unemployment office) for duration of 3 years in order to attend at courses and get a new profession after 3 years is over. An attforing consultant decides if the applicant is qualified to get the money for pursuing another profession or not.

In many cases there are observed that many people’s attforing cases get declined. Why you may ask. The truth is when a NAV department uses their budget, they cannot support financially an attforing application for duration of three years, cause they have already used the budget. For this reason they come up with excuses such as: the person can get another job without attending at school/courses and so on. I recall a case about a woman who was not able to walk, she was clearly eligible for receiving attforing money, but the attforing consultant declined her case and told her that she should find a job and cannot get financial support from NAV. Thius resulted that the candidate got depression and psychological problems.

For example: One of the cases belonged to a person who supposed to receive attforing, but his case was declined because the incompetent consultant along with the district chief could not solve the problem fully. The hospital, the applicant’s doctor and school were witnessed about NAV’s wrong decision, but could not do anything about it. The case went up to the supreme court for farther investigation and as a result, Nav had to give the person financial support. Such examples are plenty at major NAV offices. The pilot project was applied with wrong strategies which not only did not solve any problems but also it has decreased department’s productivity.

Problem with using the IT systems

Nav spent several millions of Norwegian kroner for changing their infrstructure and operational IT sustem, however they could not do the job and the government still is investigating this issue.


It should be a retreat to defensible ground. In most instances, the transition to the new technology or work policy is gradual. However it should be a room for improvement in case of implementation of a pilot project. The crises that NAV has faced during the last few years is because of their inflexibility and closeness to the new ideas. In practice NAV suffers from having the right CEO and management strategy. They try to fulfill a pilot project but the work flow and work processes have not been improved yet. Because of financial crises, internal problems with unsatisfied employees, NAV started to use a new strategy which is engaging and hiring people as trainee to handle difficult jobs and cases that requires familiarity in law, Arena system, work law and regulations. These new consultants who are in trainee processes ( 3-6 months or more) give wrong information to people which cause frustration among people. NAV tries to save money but by using this wrong strategy they add more problems to their crises.

Employees should be given the right assignments and they must report what they have done at the end of a period. They should have a work follow up procedures. The district chefs must be able to apply the right work policy at each NAV department (office).

They should not make people waiting uselessly. They must not treat people like bunch of suckers who lost their jobs! Some of them are rude, incompetent and clueless about the country’s law and regulations.

NAV’s employees salaries come from people’s taxes and government. They must understand that they should do their jobs right. If NAV continues the old strategy and try not to find a proper solution to their problems, they may face dramatic crises in the years to come. Just changing leaders, managers will not solve the problem. They should change the management strategy, internal personal policy strategy, implement ideas that work and testing them and measuring in global level.

Testing and measuring the new strategies will help NAV to find better solutions to their problems. They should apply a better IT system, IT management and IT tools in order to accelerate people’s cases and solve their problems.

Update May 2010: Tor Sagli director of the National Labor and Welfare Administration is no longer the NAV director.

Update 2015: Nav Lerkendal in Trondheim has improved their office routines and candidate’s papers won’t get lost or disappear, however the follow up routines are not improved yet. Explore how Management in Norway works.