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Brazil: the big picture

Posted on by from HSBC

Apparently it’s not all work and no play for expats in Brazil. What can you expect from the Brazilian workplace culture and why is this emerging market is a great place to pick up key career skills?

Why Brazil?

Think of Brazil, and it is likely your mind paints a picture of samba, sunshine, football and carnivals. But Brazil isn’t just a hub of vibrant culture; according to our research, it’s becoming an important career destination as well.  

Our 2014 Expat Explorer survey found that Brazil is increasingly becoming a popular choice for expats relocating for career-related reasons, and notably a location for expats to be sent to by their employers. Of the expats we surveyed in Brazil last year, 37% had moved there on a secondment, more than two and a half times higher than the global average. So what is it about Brazil that is making the country an increasingly popular destination for expat workers?

The all important work-life balance

Well, its profile has certainly been raised recently, thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and this year's 2016 Olympics. Its economy has grown in recent years too, though there are signs that’s changing. What really stands out though is how expats feel about the working environment they experience in the country.  

In particular, 38% of expats in Brazil call out the country as offering a healthier work/life balance than their old jobs back home. Salaries too are impressive – the country was ranked twelfth globally by expats for their satisfaction with salary and overall income levels. Working expats also seem to find no barriers when it comes to speaking the local Portuguese language, 85% say they are learning and using the local language and 35% say they find this relatively easy. 

Culture vulture

Brazil has a distinct workplace culture which appeals. It is famous for its sense of optimism and can-do attitude, known in Brazil as jeitinho brasileiro, which translates as “the little Brazilian way of getting things done”. The office culture is often more laid back too. Workplaces are known for their more relaxed attire, with suits at work only really seen in Sao Paulo.  

Brazilians also interpret the lunch hour in a different way to what expats may be used to. Many office workers indulging in “kilo buffets” at lunch times, which encourage workers to indulge in the best of what Brazilian cuisine has to offer. 
Good salaries, a better work/life balance and a welcoming office culture (the country ranked 9th out of 34 countries in 2014 for expat employees saying they feel welcome at work). Add all these factors together and it’s not hard to see what entices employees to ask about a transfer to Brazil. Job satisfaction is only half the story though – even career-minded expats want to know they can have a good time in their new home.
Beyond the working environment, the results of our 2014 survey demonstrate that Brazilian culture is one expats embrace and settle into easily. The country ranked 2nd out of 34 for being able to acclimatise to expat life quickly.  Eight in ten expats surveyed in Brazil say they enjoy the local food too, with 73% shopping for local produce rather than in supermarkets.  

Community spirit

As well as the lifestyle, expats in Brazil settle well into local communities. Seven in ten told us they felt they were integrating well, and 75% said they associated the country with friendly people – far higher than the global average of 48%.
But perhaps the clearest sign of why people want to move to the country is this: 63% of expats in Brazil identify with it as their home, compared to our global average of just 54%. They may go there as expats, but quickly become natives.  And the workplace culture has a big effect on that.  

Dean Blackburn

By Dean Blackburn


Dean is head of retail banking & wealth management at HSBC expat



HSBC Bank plc is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC's international network comprises around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.

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