Hungary Work Culture
To succeed in business in Hungary, it is vital to have a strong understanding of the country’s business culture. Hungarian business culture is modernizing and reflects ongoing changes in Western society, placing importance on both the work of management and the employees.
Hierarchical structures are still present in Hungarian structures. Punctuality, flexibility, preparedness and socialization are significant to the development of business relationships in Hungary. Local businessmen place great importance in their relationships. Thus, it is important to both you and your local business partners to treat business dealings with respect and great care.
There has been an increasing awareness around the world in the importance of work-life balance and flexible working times, but Hungary still places significant importance on business etiquette for the smooth operation of businesses. Here are some tips and tricks to use during your first few months:
- Punctuality: Punctuality is important to Hungary’s business culture. It is advised to arrive at least ten minutes before the scheduled meeting time. Business meetings are expected to start on time, whilst public events typically start with a delay of about 10 minutes.
Sticking to a strict schedule or agenda is not common, and spontaneity is often a driving force of public events.
- Languages: Whilst Hungarian is the official language, many people speak several languages due to its closeness to other countries. The business language in Hungary is English, and most businessmen speak English to varying degrees of proficiency – so a few words or phrases in Hungarian can go a long way in breaking the ice and making good first impressions.
- Business Relationships: Hungarians are generally not reserved, but upon the first meeting they might give that impression. However, once they get familiar with you, they can relax and communicate more openly. Business relationships are usually built on trust and familiarity, and often involve socializing outside the workplace.
If the business relationship develops into a partnership, a Hungarian businessman might invite you to their home for a meal and to meet their family.
- First Contact: First contact is generally done by telephone and followed up by an email. Appointments must be made at least a month in advance and must be confirmed in writing.
Having a local representative to facilitate introductions is advised, as introductions are better received by someone known and trusted.
- Introductions/Greetings: In business, greetings consist of a firm handshake with direct eye contact. When greeting yourself, it is advised to state your name, as well as present your business card.
- Gift-giving: Gifts are neither necessary nor expected for business relationships – however, small presents like a diary, a pen with a company logo engraving, or a souvenir that represents your company are acceptable.
During festive seasons, such as Christmas, businessmen in Hungary can exchange gifts such as a bottle of wine. If invited to a business partner’s home for dinner, it is normally expected to present the host with chocolates, flowers, or a bottle of wine/liquor.
- Dress code: Business dress in Hungary is generally conservative and formal. Men wear a suit and tie, whilst women wear either a suit or elegant dress. However, the dress code may vary depending on the sector and the formality of the meeting.
- Formality: It is recommended to address your local counterparts by their titles and surnames, unless invited to address them differently.
- Meetings Management: Meetings in Hungarian are considered necessary for the exchange of ideas, but agreements are rarely agreed to on the same day. Meetings generally begin with small talk, before the projects are presented. Projects should be well-researched, thorough, and accurate. Decisions are not made on the spot, and talks can last for an extended period.
Hungarians are well-prepared, and flexible as business negotiators – their goal is to reach an agreement, so comprising is not off limits. Confrontational behavior, high-pressure sales tactics, and exaggeration should be avoided. Debates in meetings are also regarded as healthy.
- Agreements: Promises made in meetings are usually respected. However, agreements are only binding when they are written, so it is best not to rely on verbal agreements.
- Socializing: Socializing is an important part of the relationship-building process in Hungary. Expect many invitations to dinner and cultural events and be sure to reciprocate if you can. Business lunches and dinners are common to getting to know local associates.
- Hierarchy: Hungarian organizations generally structured hierarchically. Employees are generally not expected to give opinions in the decision-making process, so it is best to establish formal and respectful relationships with executives and managers who will make all the major decisions.
- Communication: Hungarians prefer face-to-face communication. They are emotive speakers who say what they think and expect you to do the same, and pride themselves on using proper etiquette. They often use stories, jokes, and anecdotes to prove a point, and are suspicious of people who are not willing to share their innermost thoughts. Hungarians also view eye contact as indicative of sincerity.
Hungary Minimum Wage
The minimum wage is determined annually by the government, in cooperation with the National Social and Economic Council. As from the 1 February 2021, the basic minimum monthly wage for full-time employees is HUF 167,400.
Hungary also has a guaranteed minimum wage for jobs that require (at least) a secondary school qualification or secondary vocational qualification, which was also increased in 2021 to HUF 219,000.
Probation Periods in Hungary
When concluding the employment contract, the employee and employer can agree to a probationary period, but it generally it can be no longer than 3 months. A period that is shorter than this limit may only be extended once, but only if the added extension with the old probation period does not go over 3 months.
A collective bargaining agreement, however, can extend this period to 6 months. However, an extension of this probation period is prohibited.
During the probationary period, employment may be terminated by either party with immediate effect or without justification.
Working Hours in Hungary
In Hungary, a typical working day is 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
The working day starts at 8/8:30am and ends at about 5pm. Office hours can vary, and Friday is often a short day with people leaving at about 4pm or earlier. Daily lunch breaks are between 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Overtime in Hungary
The maximum amount of overtime hours an employer may request from an employee is 250 hours. The maximum daily working hours is 12, and weekly hours 48, both inclusive of overtime. So, an employee can work a maximum of 4 hours of overtime daily, and 8 hours of overtime weekly.
Overtime work is paid with a 150% wage rate, and a 200% wage rate for weekends and holidays.