Hiring Remote Workers in the Philippines: A Guide for US Employers

When we decide to expand internationally and hire employees in other countries, we must familiarize ourselves with the local culture, business practices and any differences in operation.

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While international business relationships can clearly be beneficial to both parties and function harmoniously, it’s essential to acknowledge the differing perspectives and not just assume you’ll be able to use your same business practices in the new location. 

There are notable differences between the US and the Philippines in working culture and employment regulations. This article encompasses the primary differences that a US employer should expect before and during the hiring process of Filipino employees. 

The Philippines have patterned their educational system after the US educational system. Because of this, US employers generally find it very easy to adjust with the Philippines' working style. 

There are, however, still some distinct differences. For a successful working relationship, US employers should familiarize themselves with these variations when hiring Philippines employees. 

Filipino people are highly communal and respectful of power dynamics. This is markedly different from the US, which is more individualistic. You may notice this play out in various ways within the workplace. Filipino employees are highly punctual in their meetings and appointments. They may refer to people as “sir” and “mam”, although using a colleague’s first name is also generally acceptable. 

Filipino employees rarely take risks in their work, and frequently defer decisions to those with higher positions. In instances where they are the decision-makers, Filipino employees will usually like to discuss with their peers and come to a decision communally. This may mean tasks take longer, as clarifying everyone’s consensus is essential. 

It would benefit a US employer to know that in the Philippines, supervisors expect employees to ask them for advice, so they may be interacting more with their Filipino employees than they usually would with their American ones. Filipino employees are also very hesitant to disagree with a supervisor, and will actively avoid saying the word ‘no.’ They may instead use the word ‘maybe’ to indicate disagreement. It is therefore vital for US employers to carefully listen out for any signs of hesitation a Filipino employee may express for a more long-lasting and open working relationship. 

Personal relationships are also quite strong in a Filipino working context, as establishing a friendship is seen to deepen a business relationship. US employers should note that in the Philippines, asking questions about a fellow employee’s personal life, such as questions about family, is the norm. Furthermore, Filipinos will usually expect a US employer to ask similar questions back!

In the Philippines, the official business language is English. Up to 90% of Filipinos speak American English, so US employers won’t often need to worry about translating any documents from English to Tagalog. 

The East Coast will struggle to communicate with their Filipino employees, as it is 9 am in the Philippines when it is 9 pm in New York. The West Coast has slightly better chances of communicating within work hours, as it is 6 pm in California during Philippine’s 9 am...read more

Shield GEO makes international employment simple. Our customers use Shield GEO Employer of Record service to employ and payroll hundreds of workers in over fifty countries. Find out more.

Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd

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