Often, when businesses first consider using an offshore workforce, their primary driver is the considerable savings on labour costs. Whilst there is little argument that this is a significant benefit, an often overlooked additional benefit is the staff loyalty and high staff retention rates which can be achieved with Filipino staff.
Understanding Cultural Differences
Though there are many similarities between Australians and Filipinos, such as their shared love of American culture, western systems of government/education and use of the English language, there are also many cultural differences. One of the biggest differences is the level of importance and degree of influence of family. There is no doubt that in Filipino society, family comes before all else, including work. One example of this is the difference between how we treat our aging family members. In Australia, both aged care facilities and retirement villages are big business. In the Philippines however, the concepts hardly even exist – ageing family members are simply looked after at home by the younger family members. We might think that family is important to us, and no question it is, but Filipinos take this to a whole new level.
It is also common for Filipinos to treat their work colleagues as a second family and value these work relationships almost as importantly as they value relationships with their actual family. This can have both positive and negative repercussions for prospective employers.
On the negative side, when dealing with staff, it is very important to be mindful of the very close relationships that may have developed between co- workers. If you don’t treat a staff member fairly, you may find the consequences extend well beyond that person and impact the morale of your whole team. Likewise, whilst it might be tempting to try out new staff on the basis that if it doesn’t work out you can let them go during their probation period, the indirect consequence of this might be that you also lose staff that you want to keep! When dealing with performance management issues, you also need to be careful and considered in your approach. It isn’t that you can’t deal with under-performance or, if necessary, let someone go. It is just that you need to do it in a carefully considered way to ensure that it is understood and perceived as being fair.
Conversely, if you are prepared to properly engage with your staff by understanding and treating them well, it is possible to develop a culture where there is both high levels of productivity and loyalty by all staff, both to each other and the business. It is, however, not an easy thing to achieve and maintain. It requires a careful balance between maintaining ongoing performance while also avoiding unnecessary or unduly harsh criticisms or disciplinary action.
If you can create a culture among your employees where they truly feel that your workplace is their second family and that they are an indispensable part of it, you will likely have employees who will ride through the tough times with you and stay by your side in circumstances where equivalent Australian employees would have long since left.
The cost, both direct and indirect, of staff turnover is very significant and the benefits which will flow from good staff retention and loyalty are substantial. Unfortunately these days, in Australia, high staff turnover, particularly amongst younger staff, is a fact of life. No more is the norm a “job for life” but it is instead far more common to see staff changing jobs every two years or so often for no reason other than a simple change of scenery.
The opportunity to employ staff in the Philippines who will both assist with the development of the business and, if engaged properly, stay in the long term is a significant benefit often overlooked by employers when considering offshoring.