Given the nature of certain cultural and demographic conditions, elevated turnover of maquiladora industry workers in Mexico can create situations that produce negative outcomes for some companies operating on the Mexican border and in its interior.

Causes of the turnover of maquiladora industry workers can range from factors that are not disimilar to those fueling the phenomenon in any other country to those that are related to uniquely Mexican circumstances and conditions. Causes for rotation of personnel that can be considered somewhat universal may include, but are not limited to:

  • Inadequate Compensation
  • Boredom/Lack of Challenge
  • Lack of Opportunities for Professional Development
  • Poor Work/Life Balance
  • Job Stress and Unfair Treatment

Beyond the causes for turnover that are more or less common in all of the world’s workplaces are ones that are of particular consequence in the context of turnover of maquiladora industry workers in Mexico. For instance, differences in cultural mores between expatriate managers and workers may be a factor that determines whether employees choose to stay or go. Companies must take the time and make the effort to make sure that supervisory personnel sent to Mexico to lead a Mexican workforce are sufficiently attuned to the culture of the country’s people. A cultural disconnect between the Mexican workforce and the foreign manager can result in turnover of maquiladora industry workers in Mexico that negatively impacts manufacturers’ bottom lines.

Over the years, and as Mexico has made great strides in providing capable workers to industry through its improving educational system, foreign manufacturers have moved towards the practice of recruiting and employing Mexican professionals to supervise their maquiladora manufacturing activities. This increased pairing of Mexican managers with Mexican production personnel has done much to diminish one of the more common causes of turnover of maquiladora industry workers.

Again, from the perspective of culture, one of the most important factors that foreign manufacturers in Mexico must take into consideration in their efforts to control production plant turnover is the fact that Mexican social life is markedly more family-centric than that of many other cultures. Efficient and saavy managers in Mexico will be efficently disciplined in their scheduling of production in such a way as to accomplish goals and comply with deadlines without requiring employees to work a number of overtime hours that is inordinately excessive. Frequent and incessant obligatory overtime hours precipitated by slipshod management practices cuts into the “family time” that is highly valued by Mexican men and women, and will, in most instances, lead to an increase in the turnover.

From a demographic perspective, companies that establish manufacturing operations in Mexico must also keep in mind that the “family connection” is the strong glue that holds Mexican society together. Since a large portion of the country’s factory workers are young, a new job in industry may represent the first time in employees’ lives that they are required to spend a large portion of their waking hours in the company of people outside of their close family and immediate circle of close friends. Companies that are successful at limiting the turnover of maquiladora industry workers in Mexico address this issue by instructing their human resources personnel to devise, promote and execute activities that have been expressly designed to create a surrogate “family” environment of sorts in the workplace.

Anyone with experience in the observing Mexican employees knows that Mothers’ Day, birthdays and other such gatherings are much anticipated and enjoyed by company personnel. Also, it is very common that firms that manufacture in Mexico organize, equip and sponsor sports teams that compete in industrial leagues against other companies’ laborers. These kind of activities make co-workers “brothers and sisters,” in a sense.

Although it may be counter-intuitive to think so, things like Christmas bonuses, senority and attendance rewards, food subsidies and vacation benefits may not the most effective means of mitigating the turnover of maquiladora industry workers in Mexico. The aforementioned perks are offered by many companies in what is a competitive marketplace for labor, and do not constitute a significant differentiating factor among those competing for quality personnel.

Leaders of those companies that are most successful in turning the cultural and demographic keys that open the door to Mexican employee loyalty are the ones that most often keep their people happy and working.