If China is the world’s manufacturing plant, then the Philippines would be the global call center (#Sorrynotsorry, India). One of IBM’s annual reports on global trends even supports this, with 350,000 Filipinos working the country’s call centers versus India’s 330,000 at the last count.
And that’s not all. Our country is also the reigning leader in backdoor business operations like finance and accounting, data entry/processing services, and even human resource management. While such phenomenal growth certainly didn’t happen overnight, the trend towards outsourcing jobs to Filipinos has long been in place.
Now, despite some pressing image problems (eg., pronounced corruption, ridiculous amounts of red tape, etc.), why does the Philippines still enjoy such high amounts of trust from the world’s prestigious countries and companies? The answer lies in what is perhaps our nation’s most precious resource: the Filipino.
What makes the Filipino stand out amidst his or her international counterparts? Plenty, it seems:
1. The “can-do” attitude
Perhaps it’s because most Filipinos grew up in an environment where competition is fierce (remember how hard it was to land your first job?) and where earthquakes and typhoons can decimate everything you’ve worked hard for in a heartbeat, but it’s second nature for us to adapt to all sorts of challenges, bounce back from setbacks, and still emerge triumphant.
And when you constantly go above and beyond your duty (“That’s not my job”- says no good Filipino worker, ever) just to deliver, you can bet that it won’t take long for all sorts of job offers to start pouring in.
The Filipino brand of hospitality is renowned throughout the world. Here, even the most poverty-stricken home will be glad to welcome a visitor and while there have been some instances in the past where foreigners were taken advantage of, there are many more locals who would go out of their way to provide assistance to the same.
How does this translate into the business world? Imagine a customer service representative who always answers the phone with a smile, patiently responds to every client’s question, concern, or complaint, and diligently works to resolve the issue from his or her end whenever possible (regardless of how many rude invectives a caller has thrown their way in the process). That, my friend, is how.
3. English language skills
Okay, so the way most Filipinos speak English won’t exactly placate the average grammar Nazi (does anyone ever?), but most foreigners understand them perfectly well. Well, if English is one of two major languages spoken in your country, that should no longer come as a surprise.
Also, the Filipino accent when it comes to speaking English is practically non-existent, especially when compared to our South Asian neighbors. (Heck, we can even put on that American “twang” if needed.) If your main concern for outsourcing is effective communication with clients, that’s already a big plus.
4. Strong work ethics
There’s no telling how far a Filipino is willing to go to provide a better life for his or her loved ones, so when you hire one, you can rest assured that your new employee will definitely put in the hours and then some.
Even single Pinoys are known for being hardworking, and they rarely, if at all, turn down extra work. It’s not just about the added pay too. Many Filipinos have this innate desire to be better in their fields (see that bit about fierce competition mentioned in the first item), so they welcome any chance to learn more or to practice their skills, even if it means having to spend a couple more hours working on another project.
5. Great value for money
When placed side by side, the rates charged by a Philippine company don’t even come close to the rates of a foreign company for the exact same service. Here in the Philippines, you can hire a full-time, entry-level employee for as low as USD200 a month, a pittance compared to the going rate at most Western countries.
Long story short, Filipino workers give you way more bang for your buck.
6. The Pinoy brand of creativity
The Philippines is not just a country of data entry workers, call center agents, or accountants. We are also a nation of visual artists, designers, animators, and alright, even the odd American idol contestant or two.
Creativity is not a Filipino perquisite, but our take on it is made distinct by spontaneity, humor, and that all-encompassing wit.
Lest you think that this trait is only useful in artistic endeavors, remember that creativity also extends to finding ingenious ways to solve problems, be it on a canvas or on a balance sheet.
7. A great sense of humor
Part of what makes Filipinos so resilient is our ability to find something to smile or laugh about in every scenario, super typhoons and presidential impeachment trials included.
This generally translates to an ability to take unfavorable events (e.g., getting reprimanded by your boss, being rejected by a client, etc.) in stride and a deft hand in lightening up tense situations that could arise between colleagues, two things that make the working process considerably easier.
8. GratitudeBy and large, Filipinos are a grateful people. We generally don’t forget those who helped us get to where we are, and that includes the person who gave us our first shot at working remotely. If you happen to be that person AND if you treat your employees very well, you’ll probably be on the receiving end of the latter’s grateful devotion, which brings us to the next item on this list…
9. Loyal commitmentWhile our politicians seem to have no concept of “palabra de honor” (word of honor), the rest of the population begs to differ. Many Filipinos prefer to stand by their promise to deliver, even when they might have to give up something or undermine themselves in order to do so.
It’s also worth noting that most Filipino workers aren’t the sort to easily get lured away by promises of a higher-paying gig, especially if they have a great appreciation for their job and their boss to begin with.
10. A nurturing spirit
There’s a reason why the demand for Filipinos as doctors, nurses, and caretakers is quite high overseas. More than going the extra mile for clients or patients, Filipinos are also known for the genuine and heartfelt concern they put into their work with others. This is not only evident in those working in the medical profession, but also in virtual staffers who look after and cultivate the members of their team.
All this is not to say that we Filipinos have no room for improvement, of course, but as far as raw material for potential goes, anyone can see that we are certainly up there with the best of them.