One of the biggest challenges for industry, no matter  where it is located, is recruiting and keeping good, productive shop floor personnel. This being the case, the present post aspires to offer some useful tips for recruiting and retaining direct labor maquiladora workers in Mexico.

It is important to keep in mind that, when looking at this issue from the perspective of a foreign company in Mexico, that things that motivate an individual, or individuals, in one country to display loyalty and longevity to their employer may not be the same for Mexican workers. For instance, US manufacturing companies may experience favorable results by offering their employees a combination of higher salaries, hours that are flexible and employee fitness and wellness programs to achieve the desired result. Although these perks would be well received by workers in just about any country in which they are offered, such incentives for both recruitment and retention may not be sufficient under some circumstances in the context of other nations’ workers. There are cultural particulars that are also important as regards Mexican workers’ benefits.  These should be taken into consideration by personnel who are responsible for recruiting and retaining direct labor maquiladora workers.

Some of the things that are valued by maquiladora personnel beyond salary and benefits

A number of inducements to longevity that are very important to lesser skilled maquiladora employees include certain non-salary perks that are highly valued in the cultural context of Mexico.   Some of these include:

  • individual recognition and awards;
  • team recognition and awards;
  • a recognition of the importance of family and the planning and execution of events that include family members;
  • opportunities for training and educational benefits;
  • additional individual financial recognition based upon the achievement of well-defined productivity goals.

These are tools that human resources personnel use in Mexico, and utilize when recruiting and retaining direct labor maquiladora workers.  They go beyond the benefits that are legally prescribed by the Mexican government and its labor law, as well as beyond the demands that may be characteristic of certain of the country’s regional labor markets.

Employing best practices pays off

One of the ways to retain lesser skilled manufacturing labor in Mexico is to employ certain proven practices in the recruitment process. These include:

  1. Making sure that applicants for manufacturing plant positions understand what the company produces, and explaining to them the conditions under which they will work. For instance, does the job require the worker to be seated or standing? A lack of knowledge of something as basic as this can make the recruiting and retention of direct labor maquiladora workers much more difficult than need be, as well as being the cause of a failure to achieve recruitment and retention goals.
  2. Filling new applicants in on details that include information on available shifts and their duration, as well as any overtime requirements that might exist, (if applicable).
  3. Accurately communicating information related to remuneration, cash and otherwise.
  4. Ensuring that applicants for factory floor positions understand exactly what is being expressed to them about the slots that they will be filling. Many times what is being communicated to workers during trainings for new hires is not understood clearly. In Mexico, misunderstandings of this sort are better cleared up by the trainers asking the trainees if what was communicated was communicated clearly, rather than by asking trainees if what was communicated has been understood.

Once individuals have been hired, considering the following points as regards the retention of direct labor maquiladora workers can mean difference between a manufacturer’s success and profitability, and its failure and financial underperformance:

Although, as is the case in all cultures, workers in the maquiladora industry are interested in earning more in monetary terms, years of experience has demonstrated that tying increased individual financial compensation to higher levels of  productivity is particularly effective. Although money is definitely a motivating factor, Mexican workers are characteristically very proud and industrious.  They want to “earn” their pay. The incentive of extra money is sometimes a less effective carrot, if everyone’s wages are boosted regardless of  individual productivity.

Retaining direct labor maquiladora workers is often achieved by making the effort to find and invest in the recruitment and hiring of top notch managerial and supervisory personnel. The presence, or absence, of such individuals in a production facility can help or hinder the exercise of recruiting and retaining quality direct labor at maquiladoras to a great degree. Workers that are subjected, on a daily basis, to supervisors that are unprofessional in demeanor, harassing in management style, or profane in communications delivery can cause workers to “hit the bricks” in droves.

Recruiting and retaining direct labor maquiladora workers is most often a more successful proposition at companies that are known for their preference to promote from within, and to implement rules and procedures that their employees are confident are consistent in their application. Favoritism is frowned upon by workers, and will cause the defection of good employees. Rules that are evenly applied should be established for situations in which, for example:

  • pay is deducted, and shifts are changed;
  • overtime and bonuses are scheduled and awarded;
  • scholarships and educational reimbursements are earned:
  • absenteeism and tardiness is excused;
  • shifts and schedules are changed.

Recruiting and retaining direct labor maquiladora workers can be a proposition that is more successfully accomplished at plants that are known for their demonstration of appreciation, and their consistent recognition of superior performance of shop floor personnel.

Everybody, and this includes Mexican workers, appreciates a hardy pat on the back and the receipt of some encouraging words when both are deserved. Companies that have monthly recognition programs, organize special, periodic events to honor standouts or host annual awards celebrations and festivities experience the benefits that result from taking the time and making the effort to build loyalty, trust and enhanced respect between labor and management.

Taking special care when recruiting and retaining direct labor maquiladora workers, if done correctly, will pay significant and long-term dividends. Companies that take the aforementioned tips to heart will benefit concretely by avoiding the sizable costs that are related to recruiting and training new hires, as well as will have a stable, productive maquiladora workforce in place that will produce the superior and quality goods that today’s competitive marketplace demands.