When asked about what they love about the Philippines, tourists who have been to the country often say it’s the Filipino’s warmth and hospitality. And this is true. Filipinos are among the friendliest people in the world.
In a 2021 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, the Philippines made it among the top list of destinations ranked for expat living. The Expat Explorer Survey is conducted annually to gain insights about living and working abroad.
This recognition is, indeed, a testament that expatriates who have been to and worked in the Philippines for a long time value Filipino culture.
Aside from hospitality, the Filipino workforce’s strong service orientation complements business growth. Working with a Filipino team can be truly rewarding. Testament to this is the country’s service industry, i.e. the BPO sector which has been at the forefront of the country’s economic growth.
Over the past decade, the Philippines has been one of the sought-after countries for investors and companies from different industries around the globe. One of the compelling reasons why the country is appealing to investors is due to the warmth of the Filipino people and the Filipino workforce’s strong work ethic.
If you’re planning to launch a business in the Philippines, it’s a good idea to first understand the things that make the Filipino workforce a unique and desirable team. A good grasp of your offshore team’s culturally preconditioned beliefs, traditions, and values will help you work with them effectively.
A glance at the Filipino workforce culture
1. Strong Affinity to the Western Culture
Filipinos have a strong affinity to Western culture while maintaining their strong Asian identity. This familiarity with different cultures is due to the nation’s long history with both Oriental and Western cultures.
Moreover, Filipinos interact with tourists and foreign professionals on a daily basis. They are no strangers to outsourcing as well. Thus, communicating effectively in a cross-cultural setting is not a problem with them.
Lastly, Filipinos’ inherent open-mindedness and cultural sensitivity allow them to build a smooth relationship with anyone from any cultural background.
2. Language Proficiency
Filipinos are highly proficient in the English language. They speak in a more neutral tone, which native English speakers find easy to understand. The Education First English Proficiency Index ranks the Philippines third in Asia, next to Singapore and Malaysia.
The Philippines is also home to plenty of multilingual professionals. Many Filipinos know how to speak French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese. The tremendous influx of young professionals to the country’s premiere language institutes is a testament to this.
3. Centrality of Family and Relationship
Filipino’s definition and conception of the family transcend school, work, or even their relationship with power and the state. The emphasis on relationships is central to the Filipino identity.
Consequently, the concept of ‘pakikisama’ becomes strongly entrenched in the Filipino psyche. Thus, team working is a natural state of affairs among Filipinos.
Pakikisama is roughly translated to English as “camaraderie”, but for a Filipino, it means more than just that. Filipinos go out of their way to help others (say a team member) and to be seen to be helping. Adding value to any relationship is a true hallmark of Filipino pakikisama.
4. Strong Service Orientation
The Filipino workforce have been at the forefront of the Philippine call center industry primarily due to its strong service orientation. Filipinos have an innate interest in other people making them good listeners and reliable problem solvers. The Filipino people are known for their hospitality and warmth. These are attributes they bring even to the workplace.
Filipinos are renowned for their amazing work ethic and are eager to demonstrate their productivity. Additionally, the concept of ‘kapwa’ (fellowship or togetherness) is deeply ingrained in the core values of the Filipino people. In the collectivistic nature of Philippine society, kapwa refers to the shared identity between groups of people as they bond together despite their differences in wealth and social status.
Kapwa can also be attributed to the strong sense of harmony that Filipino employees have in the workplace. Filipino workers genuinely believe that teamwork is a valuable workplace attribute and bringing a sense of community in the workplace contributes a lot to their strong service orientation.
Filipinos are culturally flexible, language proficient, relationship-centered, and service-oriented. However, the same cultural values can pose some challenges.
The Filipino’s conception of family may hinder some from being critical or independent, and prefer predetermined procedures or processes. Moreover, their notion of keeping a ‘face’ starkly defines them in contrast to the Western practice of criticism and confrontation. Thus, managers should be tactful in confronting and providing criticisms to their Filipino staff.
However, whenever there’s a great deal of stress or urgent activities in the workplace, you can always rely on Filipinos to still make work a happy place. They find ways to lessen the burden by having a good laugh and cracking a joke to ease workplace tension with positive vibes.
Needless to say, if you enter the offshoring game with an open, understanding, and flexible mindset, you will find dealing with your Filipino offshore workforce extremely rewarding. Learning how to manage differences is the key to a rewarding working relationship with Filipinos.
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