Motivating Filipino Employees

April 18, 2018 | Thought Pieces


By Ma. Ligaya M. Menguito

In January 2018, sixty percent of working-age Filipinos formed part of the labor force, and of these, nearly 95% are employed. The necessity and pervasiveness of work in the life of any adult renders it a prominent influence in a person’s daily life, social functioning, and even his/her identity. For employers, having a steady workforce ensures not just each employee’s sustenance but the company’s continued survival. This realization has led to studies that try to determine what makes employees happy, engaged, and motivated, in other words to answer the question—- why do people work?

To answer this, we need to understand the needs that drive people to behave in certain ways. Several theories in Psychology inform us that these range from the basic physiological needs of food and sleep, to our need of ensuring our safety and that of our loved ones’. Still others point to higher level needs such as our need to belong and develop meaningful relationships, to enjoy a sense of achievement and power, and to realize our potentials and self-actualize. The force that drives us to satisfy these needs is our motivation.

The workplace provides a rich venue for us to satisfy several needs and also acquire the means to attain some more. To be employed means to gain a variety of rewards in exchange for the effort you put in the company. This may range from intangible rewards such as the learning opportunities that you invariably enjoy and the friendships that you make. This works best on intrinsically-motivated individuals — those who are driven by the fulfilment and satisfaction that comes with work. To be able to use their talents and abilities on tasks that challenge and engage them is a powerful motivator. They may also actively seek new challenges to hone their talent and promote further learning.

Tangible rewards on the other hand, include the base pay, benefits and perks which will dictate the lifestyle and comfort level that employees will enjoy. This type of reward appeals to extrinsically-motivated individuals or those who rely on factors outside themselves as they search for validation and approval from others. For the most part, pay and benefits greatly determine the overall status and well-being of the person since these are tools that will enable the fulfilment of several needs.

What’s in it for companies to know what motivates employees? For one, information such as the needs and wants of employees can guide their decisions on the benefits that will be valued by them. If your company offers the same benefits as the industry leader, can you also expect a jump in their performance? Sadly, it is not enough to copy the reward packages that other companies provide; what is important is to have a nuanced mix that is grounded on the needs and requirements of your employees. Take the time to get this information and you will have a higher probability that your rewards will be valued. Keep in mind that a reward is significant only if it addresses what is essential.

An understanding of motivation can also inform a company in determining the work and task environment that are most suitable for employee productivity. Hackman & Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model for example, lists down characteristics of tasks that motivate people to work. For instance, a Delivery Driver who is given an additional task to collect payment from their company’s customers may have an enriched understanding of his contribution to the whole business process as he interacts with the end user. It is therefore worthwhile to constantly be mindful of how tasks are performed and the support that an employee receives to see if these still contribute to their desire to put in good work.

Coming into the situation armed with this understanding, companies can better manage the employees’ and their own expectations in the long-term. This gains more significance in the light of retaining talent in the company when several employment options abound both local and international. With all things being equal, how do you compete in a talent war if you yourself are unaware of the concerns of your employees? This is where Human Resource can greatly assist top management — by serving as the conduit in obtaining the information needed to know what drives these talents.

But perhaps the biggest challenge for anyone – at work or otherwise – to get to know what drives people to perform at work as they do, is in connecting with them. Relationships need to be built and connections strengthened if we even expect to understand the complex nature of people and their motivations.

Joy Menguito is a licensed psychologist and certified industrial-organizational psychologist. She performs consultancy work for different organizations, and is a faculty of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business under the Leadership and Human Resource Department.

About Ateneo CORD

Ateneo CORD is the training and research arm of the Ateneo Psychology Department that partners with people and organizations to improve their effectiveness. To know more about their services and training offerings, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.


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