Opinion Only: Do I Think Filipino Employees in General are Underpaid?

I used to think Filipino employees were way way way underpaid.

But when I worked here vs. overseas, I realized why the relatively lower salaries:

1. ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE (AWOL) IS A CONSTANT PROBLEM

Hindi papasok kasi walang magaalaga ng anak. Gusto mag give up agad. Magprovince daw bukas, etc.

Overseas, NOBODY knows what AWOL is.

None of my friends in HK, Taiwan or SG know the term. Kasi walang nag AWOL sa ibang bansa, dito lang.

To my seas friends, AWOL means Absence Without Leave, which means your staff just disappears without informing management.

This is why Filipino companies have to overhire. If AWOL isa, may redundant hire or reliever naman. So hindi sarado ang operations. May sasalo pa din.

2. HEADCOUNT IS A PROBLEM.

In a HK restaurant, you get one cashier. One waiter. So two headcount.

In Philippine restaurant of the same size, you need to hire 3 waiters, plus one supervisor, one cashier and one manager. So instead of 2 pax you hire 6 pax FOR SAME AMOUNT OF WORK.

So instead of paying 2 people more, you have to pay 6. But revenues are the same. So given the work done per person, salaries are lower.

3. SPEED OF WORK AND PRODUCTIVITY MATTERS.

A UP graduate took 2 weeks to send out 100 orders done online. Kasi mali mali ang sulat sa address. One regular graduate in HK can do this in half a day. Just gets it right the first time around and does the next thing by the afternoon.

4. WORK ETHIC DIFFERS.

When I got to work in HK, there was no breakfast break or coffee break or merienda. Lunch was less than one hour. We would buy food and eat at our individual tables. The entire 8 hours was spent on non stop work.

Hindi katulad dito, maraming pa banjing banjing.

Some staff time in at 9, buy food downstairs, eat breakfast and only start real “work” till 10am.

Tapos will charge you overtime kasi hindi matapos ang work. Magagalit pa kasi binibilisan sila.

5. NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT SMALL STUFF

Employees overseas work with MINIMUM supervision and get work done. Dito, you still have to double check and triple check work. Kasi kahit na sinabi nila naka double check, may mali pa din.

Also family issues and love life are NEVER discussed in a work environment sa abroad. Everyone is a professional.

The concept of Salary Loan, Bale does not really exist. Nobody goes to the boss to borrow money. As in WALA. Super nakakahiya to admit to the colleagues you don’t have your financials together.

6. MATH SKILLS HIGHER. READING COMPREHENSION SKILLS IN GENERAL ARE HIGHER.

This is a Math question for a 6 year old

This is one of the questions in the entrance exam for Grade 1 (Aged 7 years old) in Hong Kong:

So yes, their Math skills are way above average. Aminin na natin. Iba talaga ang math nila diyan. Next level.

They also don’t baby sit you and give instructions step by step.
 
Doon, your boss will only gives one instruction and it pretty much gets done. My boss just tells me, “Coordinate with Kian and we will do a conference in January.” Note conference is 2000 person conference in a different country spanning 200 companies across Asia. And this gets done.
 
Not like here where the boss still has to kulit you and ensure that people are following simple instructions.

7. IN GENERAL, PEOPLE OVERSEAS SPEAK MULTIPLE RELEVANT LANGUAGES.

When I was in Taiwan, people spoke in Mandarin, Fookien and relatively good English. Those who speak all three fluently earned more. Those who can only speak Chinese earned less.

In Singapore, people who spoke in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English fluently earned more. This means they can coordinate with more regions.

In Europe, if you speak more languages, you usually earn more.

In the USA, if you can speak Spanish and English, you can usually earn more. 

I know that here in the Philippines, if you can speak Filipino, English, AND fluent Mandarin, salaries are at least Php 70,000 or more. Cooks who know how to speak Mandarin and make good Chinese dishes average Php 150,000 a month.

So it’s all about relevant skills and knowing how to communicate with more people. Nothing impersonal about that.

8. SIMPLE MISTAKES ARE AVOIDED. AND KUNG NAGAWA, EMPLOYEE FIXES IT. NOT THE COMPANY.

A lot of very careless mistakes happen in the Philippines. I had to pay ₱100,000 penalty because an employee did not check the logbook. This does not happen overseas. The work is more pulido.

It’s true —- you really get what you pay for. While I love working here and I love my people, in general, there is really a HUGE difference in terms of speed, output, performance, work ethics, decision making capabilities, mathematical intelligence, etc. from an AVERAGE employee here and overseas.

9. PEOPLE HERE ARE RELATIVELY MORE MAREKLAMO. 

More complaints = Less time for results.

When I worked overseas, I seldom hear people blatantly complaining about their employers, pay, etc. People worked and got paid. Then went home.

Dito marami pang bruhaha about their rights, their pay, management’s treatment, etc. Given the higher need to assuage people’s feelings here, more time is spent on work. Less output is less pay. Ganun lang talaga.

10. TO BE FAIR, EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE UNDERPAID.

Ask anyone if they are earning enough. Nobody in the world will say no to more money. Universally, people want more money.

So if you think you’re alone, you’re not. Hell, I know I’m underpaid!

IN SUMMARY

You employ workers to make life easier, not harder. So if your employees give you problems, then pay is lower. If they SOLVE your problems, pay is higher.

And that’s why IN GENERAL, Filipinos In the Philippines are paid less than those who work overseas.

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4 thoughts on “Opinion Only: Do I Think Filipino Employees in General are Underpaid?

  1. I agree with the above comments. parang si author nakapag abroad lang nakalimutan na how it feels to be an employee here in the Ph. Even though I am not an employee I will never undervalue filipinos as workers. They are the backbone of every business here, often working for minimum wage (sometimes even less if the employers are shady) and sometimes without OT pay/holiday pay. It’s not fair to stereotype and put them all in one category. Lahat ng bansa may good workers and not so good workers. Even other countries prefer Filipinos kaya nga ang daming OFW.

    1. Filipinos are great once they leave the country. They are hard working and loyal and actually get the job done. They are also very warm and friendly, which is why they make great nurses, caregivers, cruise ship workers, and anything front facing.

      But when they return here, parang systemic na ang hawaan. Like why would you work hard ng 8 hours tuloy tuloy if people naman can get away with working less? If you are working for an LGU, would you be honest and give the correct ayuda if everyone else is taking a cut?

      It’s really hard to stay straight if people around you are not. When you see people cheating in class, will you cheat as well? If you see people asking to reimburse more than what they really spent, it’s really tough to just submit what you spent if everyone is doing it.

      This post is not to undervalue Filipinos. It is to challenge them to do better. Anyway, bato bato sa langit. Ang matamaan, huwag magalit. Alam naman natin na hindi naman lahat ganoon, pero marami tayong kilala na ganoong magtrabaho. To deny such practices is fooling ourselves into thinking we are perfect even if we are not. It is only when we admit our weaknesses can we stop doing what is wrong and start doing what is right.

      Only if we all challenge ourselves to ALL do what is right that we can improve.

      Anyway, will make another post in the future to write din about the positives of hiring a Filipino para balanced.

  2. When I saw this post in a FB group and people agreeing in the comment section, I want to puke. This is a classic lack of empathy and total out of touch in reality. Please open your heart to the plight and suffering of these underprivileged workers. Of course people will perform better if wages are paid right, environment/infrastructure is good etc. Syempre iba yung standard ng hongkong. Please open your eyes to the widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor. These workers, kahit magtrabaho sila ng sobrang sipad under your company, hindi nila makukuha yung opportunity na meron ka. HIndi rin nila marreach yung yaman na meron ka. Because that’s the reality – life is unfair. Have more compassion and empathy please! I suggest yung next article is to be devoted on how to improve the lives of the workers!

    1. If we run away from the truth, how can we improve? But yes, you are correct. In the essence of fairness, it’s good to be balanced. Para it’s not just one sided.

      As I said before, Filipinos are also the best workers despite some inherent weaknesses. They are warm, super friendly, compassionate, won’t open a new business competing with their former boss, and will last longer with the boss than someone hired from Hong Kong.

      I will definitely write about the pros. Already lined up yung next articles, but will definitely add the Pros din given your suggestion.

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