Been in Business in the Philippines since “99 and, pre covid ran up to 80 staff and multiple businesses. Now we have 20 employees and…what a relief!
Please understand that nothing I say here is meant to be detrimental to the Philippines or the lovely people living here. I love this place but there are certain realities that you must face as an employer.
Actually, now that things are returning to ‘normal’ in late 2021, we are having a hard time finding staff to rehire. They have moved on.
The loss of work because of the pandemic did not affect their lifestyles the way it would in the more evolved countries. The Filipinos can live on less, MUCH less so it was easy for them to return to their provincial roots & hang out. Food in the trees, water in the streams, and never cold! On our beach in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro there used to be 10 fishing boats, now there are close to 40. It’s not sustainable but nobody is going hungry.
Now you would think that, with 110 Million people, it should be easy to get staff and it is … if you are looking for people to show up, sit down, play on their phones and get a paycheck. Seriously, we had a CPA refuse to work for us as we did not allow Facebook during work. She said, “But it’s my happiness!”.
The employment bar here has been set pretty low in the Philippines for a very long time. The average Filipino expects disorganization, slow service, inferior goods. They really don’t know any better.
This is starting to change however but slowly. Basically, if they have not worked or lived abroad, they DO NOT understand Western Standards. Do not assume they will.
As more people travel and see how things are done in other countries their standards are rising. I really love watching Filipinos with US passports standing in the interminable lines at Immigration … Bitching ????
This is also part of the problem, and they have a name for it. The Brain Drain. All the Smart & Industrious Filipinos leave to work abroad. So..who’s left….
To compound this, the level of education is very low. Yup, English teachers that don’t speak English are common. Even college graduates are far below the level of education you would expect. It was not long ago that students graduated High School at 16 then attended 2 years of ‘college’ making them roughly equivalent to western high school education. An additional detriment is that 16-year-old girls would be sent to college towns and stay in dorms for this segment of their education. Suffice to say the boys took full advantage of the lack of adult supervision and teen pregnancy deprived a huge number of girls of achieving higher education.
We’ll see what happens with the new K12 system where they graduate high school at 18.
The nice thing in the Philippines is you can be VERY specific about who you want to hire. Advertising for a 21-year-old Female, attractive, light-skinned, physically fit, pleasing personality, Catholic, Single, No children, 42 kilos, over 5’ 4” tall, willing to work 6 – 10 hour days, non-smoker, non-drinker would get you to put in jail in a western country. Not here. Perfectly acceptable.
But, if you are looking for these classic qualities. Multi-Tasking, Situational Awareness, Organisational Skills, Dedication, Confidence, Reliability, Teamwork, Independence, Leadership, Integrity, Interpersonal/communication skills, Self-awareness ….Good Luck
When you do hire, Do NOT be specific about their job description as you might need to change it and guaranteed they will have it memorized and follow it to the letter. Make all their job descriptions as vague as possible, ALL AROUND works well. If you really need a description, add the phrase – “And any reasonable request”.
There is a tendency here to hire MANY staff for each position, quantity to make up for quality and the pay scale reflects this.
Construction workers get about $10 a day and you need lots of them as everything is done manually. You can try to speed things up by giving them power tools but two problems arise. They don’t know how to use them so they break AND sometimes they will break them intentionally so the job lasts longer. Their version of job security ☹
Do not fall into the trap of PAYING MORE wages thinking this will get you better results. It can sometimes be counterproductive. A manager once asked for more time off instead when we announced his pay raise.
If you increase their pay and you don’t get the expected, promised results it’s impossible to reduce their salary. Therefore, should you want to pay someone more, give it to them as a ‘Performance Bonus’. You can stop this anytime.
Never lend or CA (cash advance) more than 1-month salary. If they get too far in debt it is much easier for them to quit and find another job than pay you back. You lose the employee AND the money ☹
Finding Supervisory staff is very tough. They quickly become friends with their co-workers and have trouble disciplining them. Look for non-drinkers. They are less likely to form a bond thru drinking sessions outside of the workplace.
Self Motivated, Free Thinking, Problem Solvers are rare so we give each department a detailed checklist of tasks with specific times for them to complete each task. The staff sign for each task, the supervisor signs for the task list completed. Reduces the ‘finger pointing’ if there is an issue.
BEWARE. There will be no secrets about your business, your personal life, the wages & benefits of other employees, etc. Everything will be shared with everyone. The Filipino term is Tsismis and it loosely means Gossip but on a much more prolific and deeper scale. THERE ARE NO SECRETS IN THE PHILIPPINES, promise!
When you hire staff get them to sign Company rules and regulations. Use Monetary Penalties for EVERYTHING they could possibly do wrong!
Be very Specific. Late for work, we charge P10 per minute. That gets their attention ???? Dress Code, Appearance, Smoking, Drinking, Sleeping, Damage, Breakage, misuse of company property, anything possible you can think of. I have 2 pages that have accumulated over the years and the ONLY penalties that work are monetary. Remember a P50 fine for violation of the Dress Code is 10% of their daily salary.
Collect their Cell Phones AND turn them OFF!
Our experience has been to hire from the Call Centers. They are usually, University Educated, English Speaking and their work are boring, usually 6-month contracts, so they are thankful to get Permanent work, even at less pay.
When you fire someone just PAY what the DOLE (Dept of Labour) mandates. Firing “with cause” is NOT worth the hassle – One ‘wrongful dismissal’ case could cost you millions so Fire Them, Pay them & be done with it.
On the other hand, DOLE is on our side if we follow the rules. Should you have a problem with an employee, talk to DOLE and get advice before you do anything. They will actually come in & talk to your staff if you want.
This is just my opinion but it has been formed over the last 22 years in business here. Just like a carton of milk or a loaf of bread, employees seem to have a very specific ‘Best Before’ date. Seriously. Your best employee will suddenly, without warning, become your worst nightmare. Sloppy work, belligerent, sporadic, and lazy. It happens without warning. At that point, cut your losses, fire them and move on. Sad but True.
This is a tough country to live in and survival is not guaranteed by the government, there are no safety nets, so EVERYONE is looking for an angle, a way to squeeze a little extra out of every situation.
Trust no one! Even the foreigners that have been here too long, maybe especially them. Put systems in place to safeguard money, stock, client lists, recipes, fuel, etc. People are very adept at finding holes in your systems so have checks & double checks and also spot checks. I know this sounds harsh but …. ASK ME HOW I KNOW!
IT CAN BE DONE! You will find competent employees eventually BUT: Your business will NOT run itself!
Like I say about everything in the Philippines. Strap in, Hang on, and try to enjoy the ride ????