Understanding Filipino Work Culture

13 Jun 2017

Different countries cultivate different approaches to professionalism. Imposing the work culture of one country may not be the best course of action. What’s considered to be normal in North American work culture could be taken wrongly if applied to a European or Asian office.

The Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in Asia. We’ve talked before on why it the best country to consider when beginning an offshore strategy. Any business should prioritize immersing themselves in Filipino culture to understand what working with them is like. With knowledge of its intricacies, working with a Filipino offshore team becomes a rewarding experience.

On Pride and Modesty

The concept of pride or “saving face” is a big deal in Asian work cultures. It is often associated with Japanese workspaces but it can also be applied in the Filipino setting. Often, Filipinos are not very confrontational and value their reputation. They go out of their way to avoid losing face or being embarrassed in public settings. Being “hiya” or “mahiyain” is a complicated Filipino value that puts importance on how others see you.



Giving constructive feedback need not be confrontational.


There will be times you will need to talk to your Filipino team members on sensitive matters. It’s best to do this in a discreet, courteous and constructive manner. This will benefit your team and the company as it allows them to work better without feeling any level of shame that stems from their “hiya.”

Collaborations Founded On Friendliness

Now you might be thinking to yourself that Filipinos are mostly reserved, shy and hard to communicate with. However, it is actually quite the opposite. Having a Filipino team offshore means working with very friendly and outgoing people. Often ranked as some of the happiest people in the world, Filipinos are sociable and easy to interact with. They jump at any chance to befriend others and go out of their way to make others feel comfortable. They even try to include as many people as possible in different social gatherings and get-togethers.

To give an example, Filipinos love big gatherings especially when there’s food involved. Often, you will see groups of differing sizes having big lunches, dinners or even mid-day snacks. The Filipino Fiesta is a major gathering that celebrates special occasions with exquisite spreads. The party atmosphere brings whole communities together even if people are not familiar with each other. What’s more, Filipinos will sometimes greet guests with “kain po” while they are eating as it translates to “Come, eat.” Some expats are surprised when food is offered to them, but it is a great indication of how welcoming Filipino culture is.

Family Above All Things First

In many western countries, children are encouraged to move out of their homes and live on their own. Parents are also sent to retirement homes once they reach a certain age. The idea of immediate independence from one’s parents is viewed as absurd for many Filipinos. This is because family takes priority above many things for Filipinos, both professionally and personally.

The everyday language of Filipinos shows how engrained family values are to them. When calling the attention of others, Filipinos will sometimes use “kuya” or “ate,” or “older brother” and “older sister.” When amongst familiar, older authority figures – such as parents of friends – they are referred to as “tito” and “tita,” meaning an uncle and aunt. It is second nature for Filipinos to call strangers or unrelated people as members of their family.

Earlier, it was discussed how Filipinos value sociable relationships in their lives. Their love for family can be considered a big reason to this. When a work environment feels closed and unwelcoming, it takes a toll on Filipinos professionally. Some may choose to stay onboard despite poor working conditions – possibly stemming from their effort to save face. Those that do may start to feel negative effects in their personal lives as well. This is why Filipinos often prefer being in work environments that are open and welcoming. They want their working relationship with other people to feel like they are part of an extended family.

A Work Culture Like No Other

The work culture of The Philippines is rich and varied in many ways. Filipinos take pride in their work and value building relationships with others in order to better provide for their families and to their company’s success.

Working with Filipinos has been an enriching experience for everyone at Diversify. The company has gotten glimpses of Philippine culture through their work ethic, productivity and discipline. The warm and friendly nature that Filipinos naturally possess gives any office new life. The Philippine talent pool is deep and having Filipinos in your offshore team will help you meet your business goals.

If you’re looking to get started on an offshore strategy with Filipino team members, you may contact us today.