Why Filipino VAs Disappear (and how to prevent it)

I hate to admit it but some of us Filipino workers do have a nasty habit of disappearing.

I don’t think it’s a uniquely Filipino trait. But I think it’s more noticeable when a Filipino does it because it’s so contradictory to our usual work ethics. If you listen to people talk about Filipino workers abroad, we’re praised as some of the most reliable, hard working people around. We’re everywhere and we’re always there.

So why is it that some Filipino VAs have a tendency to disappear? There are a number of reasons:

1. They don’t know how to do something you’ve asked them to do.

Some Filipino VAs feel trapped when they’re given a task they don’t know how to do. This usually happens when:

  • They don’t understand the instructions
  • They were given a task employers assumed they know how to do, but don’t.

How to prevent this from happening to you: You have to remember that English isn’t the first language for most Filipinos. So when giving instructions, NEVER ASSUME that they understood it the first time. Always ask yourself if your instructions are really clear. Then ask them if there’s anything in the instructions you provided that they didn’t understand clearly.

For the 2nd issue, this usually happens with inexperienced virtual assistants. They’re so eager to work they ‘embellish’ their resumes. Trainings and a more rigorous hiring process can help you get more experienced virtual assistants.

What we’re doing to stop this from happening: How you manage workers makes all the difference. We put together our 4 pillars of managing Filipino workers to help you be more effective. We also tweaked our ID Proof algorithm to consider the reported skills of workers when giving their scores.

2. When your employee feels underutilized

Starting off your VA on an easy task to test their skill and reliability is good. Only giving them easy task that’s way below their skill level is bad.

Why? Because eventually, they’ll get bored. And when your virtual assistant gets bored, they’ll start looking for something that challenges them.

Why would your virtual assistant do that? Shouldn’t they be thankful that they have an easy job?

  • Filipino VAs are ambitious. We know that the more challenging the job is, the better the pay would be.
  • If we’re given an easy job that pays a pittance, we’ll get bored and find something better.
  • If you pay us an easy job that pays well, we’ll feel guilty and quit out of principle.

If you pay us well and give us tasks that challenge us, well feel fulfilled and we stay.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Train your VA to do more challenging jobs. Training not only helps them. It also helps your business by having a highly skilled VA that’s tailor fit to your needs. Then, raise their salary when they consistently meet your expectations.

What we’re doing to stop this from happening: We understand that part of the problem is that Filipino workers are often afraid to speak up. That’ why when a worker signs up for an Onlinejobs.ph account, we orient them with what employers expect with resources that come with their account. They’re taught and encouraged to communicate with their employers. That way, you’ll know when your employee is getting bored and when to start training.

3. When there’s no regular feedback or communication

When employers give feedback, it shows that they care and that they’re on top of things. If we don’t hear from employers, it gives us the impression that:

  • You’ve already left and we probably should just leave.
  • You don’t care about the work that we do so why should we do the same.

And this isn’t just a Filipino thing. Any manager will tell you that the reason they stay on top of things is because when the cat is away, the mouse will play. Even CEOs visit their businesses regularly to make sure that their managers are doing their jobs.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Email your virtual assistant regularly. Take the 5 minutes each day to check up on them. That’s nothing compared to the number of hours you save thanks to the work your VA does for you. And on the off chance you can’t email them that day, let them know. If you’re going on vacation, let them know how long you’ll be gone for.

What we’re doing to stop this from happening: What we’re doing here at Onlinejobs.ph that has worked for a couple of years is by integrating feedback into our system. Using Basecamp, it’s become easier for us to monitor and keep track of what everything is working on. Even when we’re on vacation, VAs send reports because Basecamp automatically prompts them.

 

4. When a worker isn’t ready to handle the stress.

A lot of people tend to run away from stress, Filipinos included. And some Filipino VAs disappear is because they’re not prepared for the stress that comes with online work.

There’s still this stigma associated with online work here in the Philippines. They think it’s not a real job.

It also doesn’t help that there’s now a growing number of (paid) virtual assistant training courses that teach only the most basic lessons. This encouraged a lot of inexperienced workers to overestimate their ability when marketing themselves.

So what happens when a newbie realizes they bit off more than they can chew? They cut their losses and run.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Invest in training for your virtual assistant. Assume they only know the basics unless they can present you a portfolio. If they have the right skills to do the job, they should be able to handle the responsibilities you give them.

What we’re doing to stop this from happening: We’re aware of this and have implemented several measures to respond to it (vetted worker, IDProof). We’ve also been involved in discussions with the Philippine government and they’ve started developing a VA training program that’s regulated so it’s more suited to employer needs.

5. They’re worried if you’re going to be disappointed in their work.

Filipinos are eager to please. They take pride in doing their job well. But when they don’t know, it’s easy to assume the worst.

This usually happens when there’s not enough constructive feedback or communication. There’s this common misconception that once you outsource, you can leave everything and it will run by itself. But if your employees don’t know that’s they doing well, they’ll think that you’ve abandoned them because they did something wrong.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Make sure you’re on top of things by communicating with your virtual assistants regularly. You can do this through your project management software or good ‘ole fashioned email. And you don’t need to shower your VAs with praise everyday. Give them honest, sincere feedback that can motivate them and help them to do their work better.


Julia Sta RomanaAbout Julia Jasmine M. Sta Romana
Julia has been working for OnlineJobs.ph 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.

You can follow Julia on Twitter and through her blog.

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Comments

  1. Ruslan Werntz says

    Julia, thank you very much for posting this. As a business owner, I want to treat my employees much better than when I worked for someone. This is a very helpful blog.

  2. Anonymous says

    I am new to hiring Filipino VA’s and have recently had and experience that I am baffled by and not the least bit happy about.

    My VA, who I pay very well by Ph standards, started working for me mid October and everything was going great. We worked well together and she told me how much she was enjoying her job. She asked for a day off in November to prepare for a holiday and I gave it to her, as well as the holiday. However, she followed that up a few weeks later by telling me she needed the month of December off for her sister’s wedding! December off? For a retail company?! I told her this was unacceptable and after a few days she disappeared telling me essentially that she would be back in January. Crickets since then.

    As I am new to this process, I could use some perspective or advice please.

    • says

      Based on your sorry, the situation does seem unfair. As an employer, it is you prerogative to do what you think is right. If this VA is hired through our platform, you can leave a negative review on her profile and seek/or mediation through our support (support@onlinejobs.ph)

  3. Camille says

    Hello my company is a day spa. I am looking to hire someone who can answer incoming calls. The majority of callers are asking to schedule an appointments for a massage, or other spa service including spa day packages.

    Training can be provided through our salon software company which utilizes training videos and webinars that teach how to make appointments.

    Is this something that I can hire a virtual assistant from the Philippines to provide for my company?

  4. ty hay says

    I am wanting to hire a v.a to make appointments and answer calls. I am in united states/ what is a safe proficient way to do this

  5. Derek Henderson says

    Hi Julia,
    Great article. My question is around December salary expectations. I know in PH that employers are required to pay an extra month of salary? Is this also the expectation when hiring VA’s?
    thanks!!!
    Derek
    Seattle, WA

  6. Jane says

    Hi Julia
    I’m plannig to hire an accountant for a small/medium family hotel later in 2020. I would also like to have a couple, either of husband or wife is an accountant and operational manager. How do I go about it? Please email me your reply.

    thanks and regards
    J.

  7. Rick Reese says

    Hello Julia,

    I’m new to onlinejobs.ph and have a question. Does your company offer a service to small businesses like mine that would manage our company’s VA projects? You would seem to be uniquely positioned for this type of service. We would pay a monthly fee and you would hire the appropriate VA’s and manage the projects.

    Thanks,

    Rick

  8. jeff says

    Can you tell me is there any guideline on when to give a raise and how much? Does my employee expect a rais at a certain time of the year ? I want to make sure I keep them happy!

    • says

      Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comment. That’s very kind of you

      It is possible to have a raise based on tenureship (if they’ve worked for you for a year, for example) or based on work performance

      And regarding how much, it usually depends on the employer’s discretion though

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