Mexico Work Culture
To succeed in business in Mexico, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the business culture. As a global PEO (Professional Employment Organization) it is our goal to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about Mexican work culture, we want to support your global expansion plans. Therefore, we will address all the aspects of the work culture in Mexico to start your expansion well-informed.
Foreign companies targeting Mexico for their international expansion plans must have a thorough understanding of the country’s work culture and business environment as well as the economy. And this is a ‘big ask’ for a nation that has much to offer with coastlines on the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, a northern border with the USA while the potential of South America lies in the opposite direction.
The influx of foreign investment and international companies moving into Mexico has had a positive effect on workplace attitudes and culture. Higher wages and incentives have seen Mexicans encouraged to view work as more than ‘a means to an end’ but a chance to develop careers and add to their lifestyle.
The benefits of improved job satisfaction and efficiency have filtered through to local companies in their own attitudes towards employees, working conditions and wages.
The more relaxed attitudes of foreign executives and managers towards their staff are chipping away at the traditionally formal and hierarchical structure of Mexican businesses to create a more open employer-employee relationship. But it is still best to be aware of various do’s and don’ts when first embarking on business relationships.
It’s time to ‘get down to business’ … our guide to work culture and business etiquette will help you take those important first steps into Mexico.
- Punctuality: It is important to be on time – but do not be surprised if your opposite number keeps you waiting. Make an appointment two weeks ahead of time, confirm a week later, but understand cancellations or postponements are always a possibility
- Language: Mexico’s official language is Spanish and if you are not fluent it is best to consider using an interpreter, unless you are sure the meeting will be held in your language. Even so … learning some Spanish introductory phrases will be appreciated
- Business Meals: Working breakfast and lunch meetings are a tried method of developing relationships, but do not assume much business will actually be conducted. That is often not the point
- Business Relationships: Mexican businesses are hierarchical, so respect that by having comparable seniority in your team. Be patient as Mexicans often prefer to set a target date for a deal, rather than a deadline. Although you may be promised a decision ‘mañana’ (tomorrow) … they just mean ‘sometime soon’
- Introductions and Greetings: Play safe from the start and address counterparts with their title and full name, while shaking hands and exchanging the warm smiles that Mexicans appreciate. Mexicans also like to discuss personal background and family matters and will be pleased to hear about yours
- Business Cards: These are always exchanged at the start of an initial meeting,and it is quite acceptable if your card is in English only
- Dress Code: This is formal, men wearing dark suits and women in conservative dresses or suits
- Closing the Deal: To avoid misunderstandings, write up the agreement and both sides should sign the agreement in lieu of an actual contract being in place
- Entertaining: Now the deal is done there will be time for socializing and entertaining. Be ready for long and leisurely chat after the meal is over. Even if the meal is at your new colleague’s home, formal attire is still the best
Mexico’s Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage was raised in January 2001 to MXN (Mexican pesos) 141.70 (US$7) per workday. This can be exceeded regionally and in the Northern Border Zone, for example, it is MXN 213.39 (US$10.55).
Probation Periods in Mexico
These can be a maximum of 180 days for management, technical or specialized professional positions and up to 100 days for technical roles. A 30-day probationary period can be offered for employees working at a lower level. Probation periods for trainees cannot exceed 180 days for management, technical or specialized roles or 90 days for trainees at a lower level.
The employer must apply to Mexico’s Training and Productivity Commission to dismiss the probationer if they are considered unsuitable. Consecutive training contracts are not allowed.
Working Hours in Mexico
Working hours are set at eight per day in a flexible 14-hour window from 6am until 8pm. The Federal Labor Law does not allow either employers or their staff to opt out of these regulations.
A day shift between 6am to 8pm cannot exceed 48 hours in a week; a night shift from 8pm to 6am cannot exceed 42 hours per week; a mixed shift must not exceed 45 hours in a week.
Overtime in Mexico
All employees are entitled to overtime pay, whatever their category of work or employment status. They are compensated at 100% premium on their hourly rate for the first nine hours of overtime and a 200% premium for hours above that.