Activation Consultation 4.0 – Managing a Filipino Workforce
Last updated August 30, 2019
In this podcast, Derek discusses module 4 of the Outsource Activation Consultation Program, which is about managing your Filipino workforce and getting the best out them.
- Derek talks about some key cultural differences of working with a Filipino team. This is to help anyone who plans to outsource in the Philippines be successful.
- Rewards and recognition are briefly discussed, touching on the best way to incentivize Filipino employees to perform their objectives.
- Incentivization through gamification was also discussed and if people are incentivized through gamification, it enhances the engagement received through the rewards programs.
- Becoming a great client is also discussed in this module for the activation consultation program.
- To get the best results, you’ve got to treat people in the best way possible
- Sometimes, the best reward for some people is social recognition for what they have done.
- The rewards of spending time upfront by taking the activation consultation program can be multiplied many, many times.
- It is important to recognize cultural differences in the workplace.
Derek: Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. This is episode #64 and today, it is just me. We are covering the Outsource Activation Consultation Program Module 4. If you have heard in the previous episodes, they are #52, 55, 58, and 61.
We are actually covering in this podcast the curriculum of the activation consultation program. It’s a super exciting program which basically intends to take business owners, entrepreneurs, and COOs alike through the journey of outsourcing.
If you are relatively new to outsourcing, then this consultation program is for you. We take you from virtually no knowledge up to a part-time expert, if there is such a thing. But there is a consultation. It does have fantastic value. If you want to know more about this consultation then go to our website or check it out in the show notes.
Also, I am just so enthusiastic for outsourcing that I want to get as many people into it as possible. That’s why we are covering a lot of this content in the podcast because actually, happy days. I just want people to start their outsourcing journey.
Without further ado, if you are interested in the consultation program then check it out on our website, but otherwise, there’s a huge amount of information here to help you on your journey regardless. Enjoy.
Derek: This is Module 4 of the Outsource Activation Consultation Program. Let’s get into it.
Today, I want to explore and discuss with you what it’s like to manage a Filipino workforce. This can be a slightly sensitive topic but, we’re earnestly doing this because I want to try and bridge the gap and I basically want to show people how to get the best out of their Filipino work force and their remote team. That is a win-win because basically, to get the best results, you’ve got to treat people in the best way possible and some of this is common sense, but so commonly, it can be overlooked.
Some really important aspects here that many of them apply to general management fundamentals, but then there are particular nuances with the Filipino work force because of course, there are cultural differences. We’re just going to work through a few of these now and I’m sure that you’ll find some good insight here, and of course, if you have any different opinions, then please do let me know.
Also, just to preface this, this is an oversight of module 4 of our Outsource Activation Consultation Program. I am sharing this with you because I think that there is so much valuable information in this and I really want to get people outsourcing and I want them to do it the best they possibly can. It benefits everyone.
But of course if you take the outsourcing activation consultation, then we go deeper and it’s about the actual consultation and the partnership you get from Outsource Accelerator as we join you on your outsourcing journey. The extra value that you get from the consultation is within the partnership that we offer and the consultational insights.
Of course, during the time that we are spending with you, we can give you very bespoke information specific to your needs and your organization. There’s immense value in here and I’m sure, whether you are interested in just listening to this podcast or actually, you want to proceed with the consultation package, there is still huge value for both options. Enjoy.
First of all, the first topic is the key cultural differences of the Filipino workforce. Now, some of these can be a little bit controversial and I genuinely am a great fan of the Philippines and the Filipino workforce. I have spent most of my time in the Philippines for the last four years and I think that the country is simply quite fantastic and so to it, the people. I’m really behind the Philippines.
I’m not trying to controversial, but let’s just bring these things out into the open so that we know how to best leverage these teams and so that we can best motivate and get the results that everyone wants.
The key cultural differences are communication. This might be an obvious one, but people communicate in different ways. The Filipino communication can be very respectful, sometimes, almost a little too respectful especially if you’re coming from a different background where everyone is a little bit more gruff and direct.
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Their communication nuances in the Philippines that I think it’s really important that you’re aware of, they are very, very respectful people and they are somewhat traditional in terms of their respect for hierarchy, not speaking out and not challenging either elders or seniors. It’s important to acknowledge these things in communication and encourage them to communicate.
Also significantly, they would be very unused to speaking directly to even a foreigner, but particularly like the bosses or the CEOs and things like that. Again, you might see them as somewhat shy or reserved, but that’s because of their cultural background and their common practices. Once you acknowledge this, you can help bring them out.
Another one is punctuality and attendance. This can be the bane of some new outsources and honestly, it can be an issue. So, it’s important that when you design your team, when you build your team and also as you build relationships with the BPO possibly, then this will, no doubt, come up in meetings and you will need to find processes to tackle this.
Like anywhere else, the punctuality and attendance can reflect on the mood of the team. If the mood isn’t great, then maybe it will show here, but also, you have to be aware that transport in the Philippines and most definitely in Manila, is difficult.
People that do community work can actually commute for 1.5-2 hours each way quite commonly and also that commuting can really be affected by things such as weather and time of day. It really is quite a strain for people to actually have to turn up at work on time.
Now of course, it cannot be tolerated that people are unpunctual or mostly it can’t and suddenly, attendance needs to be watched, but, it’s just you do need to be aware of these things.
Moving right along and of course, all of this will be in the show notes. The next key cultural differences that we highlight and talk about in the consultation program are motivation, employee engagement and retention, training and processes, and of course, the laws and holidays here in the Philippines. I’m just going to zoom through those quickly.
The motivation, again, this can be very standard, but the motivators for the Filipino workforce can be slightly different for the motivators for people in your hometown. Generally, the motivators are slightly more socially oriented. So, it’s about them feeling good, being rewarded, and being publicly rewarded. That helps motivate people. Payments, bonuses don’t help motivate so much.
This is linked also to the next one, which is employee engagement and retention. Now, these are, again, similar motivators. If people are engaged then they are motivated and vice versa, and you’ll also more easily retain them, but employee engagement has far reaching kind of aspects to it in terms of what they do day to day and how you keep them interested.
Now, generally, Filipino teams, they like a bit more of a structure and they like to know what they are expected to do. In terms of this, it’s good to provide them good training and good visual references for where they are going.
That is why we commonly talk about KPIs and structures, process mappings, and things like that to keep them engaged and retain. They want to be happy about what they are doing and where they are going. Also centrally to this, it’s about career ladders and providing them opportunity to better themselves
Again, linked to that is the next one, which is training and processes. There is more of a culture here where, especially if they have come from bigger BPO organizations, where there’s kind of hundreds or thousands of people on their floor, that they are very used to very structured processes and their day wouldn’t vary a lot but their day, also in those environments, has a lot of support and they know exactly what they need to do to be successful in their shift.
It’s important to provide a huge amount of training and clarity on the processes that they are expected to do for their role. A lot of SMEs come over to the Philippines and kind of expect people to wing it as they would in their own hometown. It doesn’t quite happen the same so much in the Philippines. You’ve got to be more explicit with your training and your processes.
Finally, the next one is laws and holidays. The labor laws in the Philippines are quite strict. There is a misconception that hiring someone in the Philippines is a bit like going to a sweatshop and you can work them hard and pay them not much. That really isn’t the case.
The labor laws here are very strong and certainly, people in the BPO industry know their rights and they are very well protected in their rights. So, it’s not so relevant if you are hiring people within a BPO environment, but if you are hiring them directly or if you are looking to incorporate, or even if you are within a BPO, it’s wise to know that there are very strict labor laws and ultimately, the workers expect to be respected and of course, you should respect them.
They are very knowledgeable of the laws and very commonly, if you let people go without due process, then either yourself, if you are the incorporated body, or the BPO will end up in the labor courts. It’s not uncommon here.
Then also moving to the last point, it’s holidays. There are a ton of holidays in the Philippines. There are regular holidays and then there are presidential holidays. There are local holidays, so either for the island or the state or the local baranggay.
There are a lot of holidays and some of them might even be announced just one or two days prior to the holiday. I think all up, there’s about 20 holidays a year, 20, 25 holidays a year, so huge amount of public holidays.
This is slight an offset because people don’t get as many holidays in the Philippines compared to Europe although it’s probably about the same as employees in the US. They can get somewhere between 2-3, maybe four, but very rare weeks of holiday per year.
The holidays can become a bit of contention. Suddenly, if a Philippine team is working alongside a whatever foreign team, it can be a little bit of a sore spot because there are so many holidays.
But again, you have to just set expectations from the start that if you expect people to work through these holidays, they will, of course, because that is the part of the job description. They will earn more from working these holidays, which they can appreciate also, but you just have to set expectations from the start.
Topic two, we dive into rewards and recognitions. What’s the best way in incentivizing the Filipino team? Commonly, cash. That is a very common approach for people to motivate and reward employees because of course, people are paid a salary and they aren’t there if they weren’t any money, so of course, cash is seen as an easy incentive to push people along and get them to perform or outperform their objectives.
Cash is important. People do like cash, but interestingly culturally, the Philippines is slightly different in that typically, the cash or the salary that employees earn will actually be distributed amongst their family, their siblings, and potentially even their immediate community or even their broader community.
The Filipinos typically, I mean, it’s hard to generalize, but typically, they are more community centric and there’s obviously a huge amount of unemployment in the Philippines and certainly historically, there has been a lot of hardship in the Philippines, so it’s very common for the salary earners to share and distribute their income to their broader family.
That might mean that someone in their mid-20s, mid-30s, they might have children of their own, but there might also be living with their parents, their siblings, and it’s very much an extended family. So if they get extra cash, it goes to the extended family. You can imagine that if it’s immediately dispersed amongst their family, they actually don’t get as big a kick out of cash distributions as someone might in the west.
Because of this, think around a little bit. Maybe gift certificates, maybe tickets to the movies, maybe awards. There are other things that cash could be replaced by and could actually be cheaper and could produce a better result. It’s really worth thinking around this cash bonus thing.
Next within the rewards and recognitions, it’s paid holidays. By law, a worker gets five paid leaves throughout the year. That’s it. The BPOs, of course, become more and more westernized and increased the amount of paid leaves.
As I mentioned previously, you can see sort of standards extending to two weeks now, maybe three, and potentially even four for executives, even though four would be pretty rare. But again, as an incentive, what about paid holidays? What about giving people an extra day off if they reach their targets?
This is like honesty for the Philippines and to their credit, they actually really value time off. They value time with their family. They value just hanging out. It’s not quite the same as the kind of western rat race. Paid holidays are a fantastic incentive.
Another one, of course of the rewards and recognitions, social events. Now, Filipinos love to celebrate, whether it’s in the form of a party or family event or karaoke or drinks after work, this is a huge way of rewarding Filipinos for work well done and as mentioned previously, they work from a very strong community. They are very strong community based people.
Community takes on different shapes and forms. Their workplace is considered a very strong community. You, your team, the thing that you’re building will or certainly should become a very strong community for your team members.
Social events are good for independent rewards but also for team rewards, and of course like annual rewards like the Christmas outing, things like that. So, really pay strong attention to social events.
Finally in rewards and recognitions, it’s quite simply recognition. Sometimes, the best reward to people is social recognition for what they have done. Being very community based culture, they get a huge buzz if they are publicly acknowledged within their hierarchy.
Alternatively to that, if you berate or discipline someone in front of their peers, then actually, they probably won’t come back the next day because it’s a form of shaming which they respond very poorly to. It’s important and it’s such a powerful tool if you’re able to actually just recognize your team, your staff in front of their peers.
So then we look at incentivization through gamification. Now of course, we look at setting up KPIs for your team. We cover KPIs in this consultation and of course, for those just catching up, KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. They show you, they show the organization, they show the staff what the key indicators of success are, what they are being measured by.
The next stage to that is to incentivize them and very commonly, people are incentivized as a result of their KPI. So if they reach their targets, they get a bonus, etc. But to take it to the next stage, if people are incentivized through gamification, it could really, really enhance the engagement that you’d get through these rewards programs.
Now, of course we know gamification through things like Candy Crush. There’s a lot of these mobile apps and mobile games that are almost addictive because of the gamification aspects of the noise and sounds and rewards. Some rewards are expected, some rewards you work hard for.
Another sector that uses a lot of gamification psychology are the poker machines in casinos. They are experts at creating almost a hypnotic environment where people go and then realize they have been there a few hours and blowing all of their salary on the poker machines. A lot of this is a bit of a psychological hook, but there’s a huge manifestation in terms of its application into the incentivization of workplaces.
I’m not going to dive into that too much here, but of course, in the consultation program, we deep dive further into it and we can guide you with the gamification opportunities and processes if you already have a team, if you feel it’s appropriate, or if you want to know more about that.
The final part of this fourth module for the activation consultation is about becoming a great client. I preach this a lot that actually, the people in outsourcing, the staff that you’re going to work with are actually super used to the concept of outsourcing. They are used to new bosses. They are used to working for western companies and they are used to the team environment. So, they are actually all over this.
The learning actually happens by the owner, or the business owner, the COO, whoever is managing this new outsourcing team. The learning curve for these people is actually tremendous and again, I commend those that take the activation consultation program because they realize that actually, by spending a bit of time upfront, the rewards can be multiplied many, many times.
How do you become a great client? First of all, it’s about acknowledging these things that we cover in the consultation program and it’s about being aware of the differences in the culture, the communication and knowing the triggers that activate and light up your team members.
We see very commonly SMEs that come over to the Philippines, they actually need to go through a process of maturation themselves before they can be highly effective in the Philippine outsourcing environment. Why is that? That is because a lot of the SMEs coming from the west generally do things on the fly.
Small companies by nature are quite chaotic especially if you have a small team, then the laws of kind of networking and tribes and groups means that you don’t have to have a lot of process mapping and infrastructure.
Whereas when you come to the Philippines, a) the Filipinos are more used to more mapped out structures and processes, but b) you are quickly going to be building a team and if you don’t have the information and the resources that can transfer your knowledge to this new team, then you are going to falter.
It’s very difficult to transfer a large amount of information in a short amount of time to numerous people within a team if you don’t actually have clear mapping, clear processes, and clear descriptions.
It sounds a little bit anti-establishment now to say that everything needs to be processed, everything needs to be written down, everything needs to be structured. Today’s world is becoming a bit more free flowing, but actually, the reality is when you outsource certainly in the beginning and certainly as you’re placing a new team, it is far safer to have everything within a clear process.
Becoming a great client is about being aware of what you’re not aware of. It’s about embracing the fact that you will have to return back to a student, in essence, for some part of this journey. It’s about having an open mindedness to learning and embracing the new culture and the new processes that you are about to be faced with.
I have heard from many, many business owners that started outsourcing and it’s almost like the beginning of a new chapter for them and their business. It’s something to be embraced. Don’t be scared of it, but there is a big learning curve for you, the business owner, to become a great client.
These are the topics we cover in the fourth module of the Activation Consultation Program. There is then also an activity in the consultation program and it’s regarding gamification. We spend quite a lot of time looking at this because it’s really the Rolls Royce of team motivation and reward and recognition systems.
Gamification is supremely interesting. It doesn’t have to be super complicated. You don’t need to go to an app designer to kind of make an app full of flashing lights and rewards and things like that. It can effectively be a KPI reward system, but it’s just, we dive a little bit deeper with you so that you get the concept of gamification and so that you can actually proactively build this into your team as you build the team. That’s your super exciting.
I’m going to leave that here today and of course, we covered Module 4 of the Outsource Consultation Program and it’s about getting the best of your Filipino workforce, managing a Filipino workforce and how you get the best out of them.
Again, to get the best out of someone, you have to treat them the best. You have to be clear on your direction and you have to be able to provide a clear pathway for them to perform and then everyone is happy.
You do need to acknowledge key cultural differences. There are cultural differences. It’s ridiculous to overlook them or deny them, but these can be embraced and used for the advantage of the workplace and the business.
We cover also rewards and recognitions. Again, how to keep people engaged. And then we look at incentivization through gamification and we look at you, how you become a great client for your outsource team.
There are different names to this but effectively, how you, the boss, become the best boss and do your job exceptionally well. That’s what we covered in this module. It’s a fun module and then of course we provide you with a gamification activity, so loads to do.
I hope you enjoyed that. If you want to know anymore about the Outsource Activation Consultation Program then of course go to our website and all of those contact details are available in our show notes and there might even be a special offer if you go to our show notes. Check out the show notes, which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/64.
Of course, if you want to find out anything about the course at all, then that is available on our website as well. If you want to go and check out earlier episodes where we have covered the earlier modules of this consultation program, then you can check those out at #52, 55, 58, and 61. They are all there and we will be back next week with module 5 of the Outsource Activation Consultation Program.