Italian business culture respects hierarchical structures, and job titles and responsibilities hold significance. Decision-making is often centralized, and subordinates should exercise caution when providing explicit advice or constructive criticism.
Work Relationships/Friendships: Italians prefer to establish relaxed personal relationships and value trust in business relationships. They may ask personal questions about you, your family, and your interests.
Introductions: Introductions in Italy are formal. It’s customary to shake hands with everyone in the room and address people by their title and last name. Business cards are exchanged, preferably with an Italian translation on the reverse side.
Dress Code: Italians consider a person’s presentation important, and a fashionable style is seen as a sign of social status. In most situations, a conservative style is accepted, but more informal clothing is common outside of large companies and financial circles.
Punctuality: Punctuality is not strictly adhered to in Italy. While guests are expected to be on time for meetings, delays are not uncommon due to the flexible nature of work plans.
Negotiations: Business communication is usually conducted in English, but professional translators are commonly used. Negotiations tend to be lengthy and slow due to the hierarchical decision-making process. Italians carefully evaluate advantages and risks.
Agreements: Verbal agreements and handshakes can establish an agreement, but most agreements are also put in writing. Reliability is highly valued, and business associates are expected to fulfill their part of the deal.
Communication: Discussions in Italy can be lively, and Italians tend to express their opinions, including disagreement and constructive criticism, during meetings and negotiations.
Meals: Hospitality is important in Italian business culture, and business meals are used to build relationships and discuss business matters. Declining an invitation to a business meal may be seen as an insult.
Moving on to employment practices:
Minimum Wage: Italy does not have a government-regulated minimum wage. Instead, minimum wage rates are determined through collective bargaining agreements on a sector-by-sector basis or individual contract negotiation.
Probation Periods: Probation periods in Italy are limited to a maximum duration of six months and must be specified in the employment contract.
Working Hours: The normal working week in Italy is 40 hours, but it may vary depending on the industry and sector. In the private sector, Italians often work long hours, typically from 9am to 1pm and 2:30pm to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. In the public sector, working hours are typically from 8am to 2pm, Monday to Saturday.
Rest Periods: Workers are entitled to a rest period of at least 24 hours every seven days, typically not working on Sundays.
Overtime: Any work done in excess of the normal working week is considered overtime. The maximum allowable overtime is 48 hours weekly or 250 hours yearly. The lowest statutory rates for overtime are 10%, but this can be higher through collective bargaining.
It’s essential to note that work culture and employment practices may vary across different industries, regions, and individual companies within Italy. It’s advisable to conduct further research and consult local experts or resources for more specific information based on your specific circumstances.