Motivating Your Filipino VA Over The Christmas Break

Filipinos take Christmas VERY seriously. It’s such a big deal for us we start celebrating in September and only stop halfway through January

To be honest, everything we do for the rest of the year actually builds up to Christmas. We scrimp, save and hustle all year just so we can indulge and be generous come December.

Christmas in the Philippines means huge family reunions. It can reach up to 4 generations.

It’s also a time of obligation for most Filipinos. It’s almost an unforgivable offence if you don’t come home for Christmas and I’m not exaggerating. We all know of or have experienced relationships destroyed because of missing Christmas or New Year. It’s so important we’d rather risk losing our jobs than risk the wrath of family.

Here’s an example. My mom used to work for a multinational company away from home. When she was told that she couldn’t come home for Christmas, she quit her job. She traveled by bus 3 days straight just so she can come home for Christmas for me and my sister.

This is a bus terminal with stranded commuters last Dec. 23, 2016. This is how last minute commuting in the Philippines looks like.
Photo courtesy of

Because of that, Christmas can be especially stressful as well. We have to travel back home to our families, which can take hours or days on buses, planes, trains, and boats; depending on where we live. Even those of us who work from home have to travel for family gatherings. And because we ‘work from home’, they believe we don’t have an excuse for missing the holidays.

This is likely the reason why your Filipino virtual assistant would be so unmotivated around this time of the year. Absences happen more often or , worst case scenario, they would just disappear.

As a Filipino virtual assistant, I know this isn’t a good excuse. I understand the frustration you guys go through with regards to this. But in all my years of working, I’ve discovered from my own experience and the experience of others, that there are ways to work around this. Here are a few ways you can keep your employees motivated over the holiday season.

Have a Clear Christmas Break Policy

What I really appreciate about John and our team here at is we have a very clear Christmas break policy. He lets us know about it as soon as we’re hired. Knowing ahead of time exactly when we can start enjoying our vacation helped eliminate a lot of the confusion and anxiety. It allows us to plan for travel and inform our families ahead of time what events we can attend.

If You Can Afford It, Give Your VAs the Christmas Week Off

If you have no plans to work over the holidays anyway, why not give your VA the week off? Having some time off to relax and unwind will go a long way in motivating your VA. They’ll work harder to catch up in everything that needs to be done prior to going on vacation and do better the following year.

If You Can’t Afford It, Give Them At Least Christmas or New Year’s Off.

We’re aware that for a lot of businesses, the holidays can be the busiest time. It’s good for business but it can be really depressing if you can’t enjoy it, even if it’s just a day, with the people you love. This is what your VA feels when you ask them to work over the Christmas break.

If you really need your VA to work over the holidays, give them at least one holiday off. Give them either Christmas Day or New Year’s off. Just so they can have at least one holiday to spend for their family. And to make it worth their while, since it is a regular holiday, offer them holiday pay or bonuses.

This is the typical Christmas dinner in the Philippines. It’s called Noche Buena.

Send December Salary And/Or 13th Month Early

If you offer 13th month to your Filipino workers, make sure you send that out early or on time, at the latest. Most of us depend on our 13th month and our December salary to pay for presents, travel, and food we’ll be serving over the holidays. So when it arrives late, we become anxious. We’re distracted because we won’t know how to pay for all the things we have to get for Christmas. Especially since our families think we earn more because we earn in dollars.

So please, please, don’t be late in sending the 13th month and December salary. Better yet, send it earlier than normal to avoid the numerous bank holidays that can cause remittance delays.

So that’s celebrate Christmas here in the Philippines (wink! wink!)I hope this blog post has given you useful tips to motivate your Filipino VAs. If you have other questions or blog topics you’d like to suggest, let us know in the comments!

Julia Sta RomanaAbout Julia Jasmine M. Sta Romana

Julia has been working for since 2012, first as a writer and now as its social media manager and content development specialist. She also founded the Davao Virtual Assistants Association, the biggest VA association in Davao City.

She’s a full-time wife and mom and volunteers her time as an internet rights advocate.

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  1. Daniel says

    Thank you so much, really helpful info. I’m going to email my assistant right now to make sure she knows she has the holidays off, and ask her to send her payment request so she can get paid before the holidays too. Love these articles, thank you.

  2. Clarke Duncan says

    As has been said, these articles are great, very handy, I share them with my team and ask them, how true is this LOL. I have been using OnlineJobs for a year now, have 8 people working with me and the first thing I do is confirm with them, they do not need to work regular holidays and will be paid for them (however I have a holiday exchange where you can save this day and use it for a day you much rather have off), I also give everyone 2.5 days extra days off every 3 months that they can use for vacation plus their Birthday as a paid holiday even if it’s on the weekend. As I pay everyone, every 2 weeks (1st and 15th) when it comes to 13th month this is paid on the 1st and 15th as well, basically if you have worked for me for a year then you just send me an invoice for double these days in December and everyone seems to think this is a very fair and generous system. Now it’s incredibly odd as a UK employer to pay your staff for a phantom 13th month LOL but I had read up on and watched loads of stuff John Jonas had said and when working out the rates of pay we could offer, I took the 13th month into account so it was not a “surprise” to the payroll 😉

  3. Joanne Manreal says

    Very well said.. i really appreciate the encouragement that you’ve made. I want to learn more of your strategies on how to do great jobs. Keep it up.!

  4. Ann says

    This article is very helpful. I will address this issue on my job posting for new VA and have a clear written company policy. I enjoy reading the tips from other Entrepreneurs on here.

  5. Elle Dove says

    Thanks for this article! its reminds us to remember that although we may live in different parts of the world, we have the same struggles, feelings, ups, downs, goals ambitions. Its a good reminder of treating people how you want to be treated!

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