latin american hires smiling at the camera
latin american hires smiling at the camera
latin american hires smiling at the camera

As wages rise and economic uncertainty looms, you might be getting more curious about exploring growth opportunities beyond U.S. borders. With its vibrant cultures, diverse languages, and dynamic economies, Latin America offers a treasure trove of potential for business expansion.

But it’s understandable to be concerned about the unique challenges that arise if you’re setting your hiring sights on a totally different international region.

That’s why we’ve decided to explore some common cross-cultural hurdles businesses can run into when hiring in LatAm, and provide strategic insights to navigate the landscape effectively.


Understanding Latin American cultural diversity

Although Latin America shares similarities in language and historical influences, the region is far from a cultural monolith. Each country within Latin America has its own unique ways of living, communicating, and conducting business that distinguish each nation from its neighbors.

For example, Brazil stands out with its warm, open social interactions, and workers often place a high value on relationships. You’ll see this in their business dealings, where trust and personal bonds can play a critical role in securing long-term business partnerships.

In the major cities, like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasília, you’ll also find more professionals who are used to working with international businesses, making collaboration much easier.

Closer to the U.S., you have Mexico, which also values personal relationships in business, but with a formal respectfulness in initial meetings that can surprise those unfamiliar with the culture.

Respect for hierarchy and seniority can influence business interactions significantly. When it comes to communication style, Mexican workers prefer to be nuanced, polite, and diplomatic, avoiding direct confrontation while still maintaining honesty.

On the other hand, Argentina offers a blend of European and Latin influences, with a work culture that’s similar to the United States’. In cities like Buenos Aires, professionals typically adhere to a standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday, with a brief lunch break.

The introduction of free-market reforms in the 1990s brought in a wave of multinational companies, transforming the traditional Argentine work rhythm into a more fast-paced, American-style expectation. It also helps that Argentina has the highest English proficiency in Latin America, especially in urban cities.


Common Cross-Cultural Challenges in Hiring

Language barriers

While Spanish is the predominant language across most of Latin America, if you’re looking to hire in Brazil, the official language there is Portuguese. The level of English proficiency may vary significantly between countries and even within them, depending on the area and the sector.

However, if you’re contracting workers from urban areas, especially capital cities that serve as economic hubs, you’ll have a much easier time finding talent who are fluent in English. You can even use a service like Embarca to shorten the time it takes to find reliable, English-proficient, Latin American workers.

Social and business etiquette

Understanding and respecting local mores is vital for any business looking to expand into a new region—particularly when it comes to simple matters.

For example, in many parts of Latin America, there is a more relaxed attitude towards time and punctuality, which might be interpreted as unprofessional in more time-conscious cultures like the U.S.

Regardless, professionals that work with international companies, especially remotely, are usually familiar with what’s expected of them and can adapt to the work culture of the business that’s hired them.

Legal and regulatory environments

The labor laws in Latin America vary significantly by country, each with its own complexities and requirements. For example, Mexico's labor laws include stringent employee protections and mandatory profit-sharing, whereas Colombia distinguishes itself with various types of employment contracts, each with specific rules.

If you’re hiring a part-time or full-time employee, you may be required to pay your Latin American workers what’s called a 13th-month salary, AKA aguinaldo in Spanish. This payment is essentially a bonus that is equal to a month’s wages, and it is typically paid at the end of the year. In certain countries, like Peru, a 14th or 15th month salary is also common.

Despite the customary bonus, the cost of living is immensely inexpensive compared to the United States, which means the wages are also much more cost-effective for U.S. businesses.


Best practices for cross-cultural hiring in Latin America

Effective communication techniques

When coordinating from abroad, clarity in communication becomes crucial to bridge the physical and cultural distance. Ensuring that all communications—whether written or spoken—are clear and concise helps minimize misunderstandings.

For instance, providing key documents and conducting critical meetings with professional translation services can make interactions smoother and show respect for local norms.

Still, if English fluency is a necessity for your business, you can also conduct English-proficiency assessments during your interview process, or seek out the millions of sufficiently bilingual professionals in Latin America.

Inclusivity in the workplace

Cultivating an inclusive environment involves understanding and respecting the local holidays and various working styles of the Latin American employees you hire—even if they are remote employees.

This doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your established work culture and values, but also be open-minded and accepting of the customs your Latin American employees are used to as they adjust to your business.

Training for remote managers on cultural sensitivities, along with regular virtual team-building activities, can help reduce cultural gaps. Encouraging the celebration of local traditions and providing support for employees' cultural expressions can reinforce acceptance and enhance team cohesion.

Continuous learning and adaptation

Establishing regular training on regional cultural practices for the home office and the local team will help everyone better understand each other and cooperate.

You can accomplish this the same way you would with an employee from the United States—by creating open channels for feedback, either during weekly and monthly meetings or performance reviews, to allow team members to voice their experiences and suggestions.

Doing so doesn’t just improve how your teams collaborate, it bolsters your overall management strategies over time.


What’s the best way to recruit Latin American talent?

If you’re looking for a way to get your feet wet in the LatAm employment scene, Embarca can accelerate the process for you.

Whether you need expertise in development, accounting, design, marketing, customer support, or data analysis, Embarca provides access to vetted and skilled individuals and teams that grow alongside your business.

You also won’t have to worry about language barrier challenges—our candidates are fluent in both English and Spanish and work within your time zone to make communication and integration with your existing team as smooth as possible.

Get started by booking a call with us, or share your contact information here!

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Bridging Continents | Commitment to Fairness

Experience the benefits of recruiting in Latin America, where talent knows no boundaries and excellence knows no borders.

Job Seekers

Locations

Resources

© 2024 Scalero, Inc, dba Embarca. All rights reserved.

company white footer logotype

Bridging Continents | Commitment to Fairness

Experience the benefits of recruiting in Latin America, where talent knows no boundaries and excellence knows no borders.

Job Seekers

Locations

Resources

© 2024 Scalero, Inc, dba Embarca. All rights reserved.

company white footer logotype

Bridging Continents | Commitment to Fairness

Experience the benefits of recruiting in Latin America, where talent knows no boundaries and excellence knows no borders.

Job Seekers

Locations

Resources

© 2024 Scalero, Inc, dba Embarca. All rights reserved.

company white footer logotype

Bridging Continents | Commitment to Fairness

Experience the benefits of recruiting in Latin America,

where talent knows no boundaries and excellence knows no borders.

Job Seekers

Locations

Resources

© 2024 Scalero, Inc, dba Embarca. All rights reserved.

company white footer logotype

Bridging Continents | Commitment to Fairness

Experience the benefits of recruiting in Latin America,

where talent knows no boundaries and excellence knows no borders.

Job Seekers

Locations

Resources

© 2024 Scalero, Inc, dba Embarca. All rights reserved.