Honesty is highly valued by Filipino workers according to 78% of respondents in a May 2022 study by Milieu Insight, a Singapore-based market research firm, that surveyed employees in Southeast Asia on the importance of values at work.
This was true across age groups (75% among professionals who are 25–34 years old; 82% for those over the age of 55), and employment levels (77% for both directors and entry-level executives).
The second and third most important work values, respectively, are taking responsibility (71%), and quality work (70%).
Most respondents in the Philippines (93%) think the values of the company they work for are important, higher than the average, said Sonia Elicia D., associate director for marketing at Milieu Insight, in an email.
“People yearn for a sense of humanity and community as part of the workplace experience, and being the ‘good guy’ by strengthening personal values and morals is fundamental to a strong, positive working culture,” she said. “This ensures that employees feel valued and never forced to compromise who they are or what is important to them.”
Across the four Southeast Asian (SEA) countries represented by the study (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines), 71% of respondents indicated that the values of the company they work for matter to them.
While close to half (49%) say they will not work in a job where the nature of it requires them to go against their values, about two-fifths (41%) also indicated their willingness to do so as long as it’s not illegal.
“In an ideal world, you wouldn’t be working in a job that clashed with your values — but leaving a job out of principle is a rare luxury,” Ms. D. said. “Authentic expression of values might set someone on a collision path with the culture of a workplace, which is why they have to find a way to bridge the gaps they find between their values and the culture they work in.”
The Milieu Insight study further found that only 40% of the respondents with a household income less than SG$3,000 answered “yes” to the question “Would you work in a job where the nature of it requires you to go against your values?”
Meanwhile, 48% of those with a household income of at least SG$9,000 answered “yes” to the same question.
“This is opposite the notion that people care a lot more about ESG [environmental, social, and corporate governance] goals when their finances can afford it,” she said.
In terms of workplace camaraderie, meanwhile, 64% in the Philippines said they like most or all of their colleagues (23% strongly agree; 41% somewhat agree). Three quarters (76%) also said that their colleagues help each other out. The regional average for both points, respectively, were 57% and 73%.
Although The Great Resignation — where employees voluntarily resign from their jobs en masse — is more pronounced in countries like the US, the pandemic has compelled a number of white-collar workers in the Asia Pacific to seek a more equitable work-life balance.
CBRE, a real estate brokerage from Dallas, reported in its 2022 market outlook that lower unemployment in the region has sparked a talent war.
Workplaces, it added, “will need to be designed in such a way as to attract people and make them want to choose to work there.”
The disruption caused by the pandemic has put the spotlight on factors beyond financial incentives, noted Mercer in a September 2021 SEA survey.
“The challenges and sentiments of [Southeast Asians] with regards to work are definitely real. Factors such as intense work hours, burnout, rising stress levels and the lack of satisfaction from work are felt by workers in the region too,” said Ms. D.
This is why in countries like Singapore, organizations are amping up their employee engagement efforts, flexible working arrangements, and job enrichment and redesign, she added.
The Milieu Insight survey was conducted May 2022 with 1000 employed respondents each in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. — Patricia B. Mirasol