SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

March 17, 2016 00:01 ET

Brazilians Put "Soft" Factors Ahead of Compensation in Workplace Survey

Brazilians Care More About the Experience of Work Than About Salary or Benefits, According to a Survey by BCG and The Network; This Is Information That Employers Can Use to Try to Win the Talent War and Boost Worker Productivity

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL--(Marketwired - Mar 17, 2016) - Being appreciated for one's work and having a chance to develop in one's career are far more important in Brazil than compensation in determining worker satisfaction, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, Understanding Brazil's Workforce in a Troubled Time, is being released today and offers insight into what Brazilian workers think, whether they are trading commodities in a São Paulo skyscraper or harvesting soybeans in Mato Grosso.

The greater interest that Brazilians have in the experience of work than in a job's financial rewards is true not just for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, the report says. It also goes for people higher up the management ranks, including middle managers, executives, and owners. Among the other factors that Brazilian workers put ahead of compensation are learning and a good work-life balance. In fact, nothing compensation-related appears in the ten top factors that contribute to Brazilians' satisfaction at work, according to the survey.

"Brazilians aren't unique in wanting to enjoy what they do in the workplace and in attaching a lot of importance to the relationships they have there," said Christian Orglmeister, a coauthor of the report and a partner and managing director in BCG's São Paulo office. "This is true of workers in most countries and in most regions of the world. But Brazilians pursue nonfinancial rewards with greater-than-average passion. Brazilian companies that understand this can make changes to their workplaces and set themselves apart."

The report delves into workforce attitudes at a time when the country remains mired in a deep recession. Brazil's economy shrank and its unemployment rate rose for much of 2015. The unemployment rate stood at 7.6% in January 2016, compared with 5.3% a year earlier.

In developing the report, BCG did a fresh analysis of survey data it gathered in 2014 as part of a joint study with The Network, a global alliance of job recruitment sites. More than 11,000 Brazilian workers participated in the original survey. BCG also did fresh interviews with Brazilian workers from a variety of backgrounds. Those interviewed talked about their preference for work-life balance in concrete terms, including how they gravitated to jobs that left them time to marry and start families and how they negotiated work arrangements that made it possible for them to telecommute and thus avoid Brazil's infamous traffic jams.

Besides the insights it offers into worker attitudes in Brazil, the report discusses what Brazilian companies can do to increase the competitiveness of their workforces. This "best practices" section offers tips on how companies can retain and manage their top talent and highlights the imperative, during an economic downturn, of handling people issues skillfully and fostering workplace productivity.

Heavy Use of the Internet in Job Searches

The survey leaves little doubt about how Brazilians do their job hunting. While the Internet -- in the form of job websites and company websites -- is always part of the mix, personal and business networks have an equal or greater value for many workers. Brazilians understand the importance of asking their family and friends for leads and of tapping into their academic and professional networks.

Among the survey's other findings:

  • A startlingly high percentage of Brazilians aren't happy with their current work situation. Forty percent of Brazilians who were self-employed at the time of the survey said they were actively looking for a new job. So did 29% who were employed by a business or some other organization. This suggests a lack of stability that Brazilian employers may need to address.

  • Preferences by gender are less pronounced than one might expect. Brazilian women are slightly more apt to value paid time off and to focus on the generosity of company-provided meal coupons; men are more apt to like the idea of a company-provided car. But flexible work models -- a benefit often assumed to appeal to women in particular -- are seen as about equally valuable by men and women in Brazil. And all of these factors pale next to more intrinsic aspects of the work environment, including recognition for good work and relationships with colleagues, which men and women value more or less equally.

  • Brazilians are ambivalent about overseas assignments. Sixty-one percent of Brazilians say they would be willing to work abroad, and the percentage is even higher among senior managers, those with PhD degrees, and people in fields like IT, engineering, and science. Yet that willingness doesn't often translate into action. Only one in ten Brazilians has taken even a preliminary step toward pursuing an overseas job, and only 1 in 100 has taken action toward getting a visa.

The report doesn't go so far as to suggest that Brazilian workers disregard compensation when planning their careers or considering job changes. But it does say that compensation-related factors matter slightly less, on average, to Brazilians than to non-Brazilians.

"Competitive pay is necessary, but it isn't sufficient -- that's one of the big takeaways here," said Thiago Cardoso, a principal in BCG's Rio de Janeiro office and a report coauthor. "As a Brazilian company, you've also got to know how to say thank you for a job well done, create a collegial atmosphere, and give your people a chance to learn and develop. The companies that do that in the future are going to win the talent war."

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

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