A positive outlook was forecasted this year in terms of the general state of employment in the Philippines. And so far, the numbers have reflected this growth.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the unemployment rate decreased to 5.5 percent in April 2018 from 5.7 percent in the same period last year. This is the lowest figure the country has seen in the past 10 years, showing a better market for Filipino fresh graduates and jobseekers.

The accommodation and foodservice activities sector is one of the biggest contributors, generating employment of up to 280,000 in 2016. Restaurants and mobile food services had the highest demand for workers, as reported in the preliminary results of the 2016 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI). In Metro Manila alone, there were at least 4,000 job vacancies last year, making it the industry with the third highest total accession rate.

However, despite this growing need from businesses and establishments, the food and beverage sector saw high numbers of employee-initiated separations. This resignation rate comes second after administrative and support services, which comprise of call centers and BPO companies.

Low staff retention is undeniably a common occurrence with many employees using local businesses as stepping stones, only to leave when opportunities to further their careers abroad present themselves. While there is nothing wrong with seeking greener pastures elsewhere, this predicament becomes a setback for companies. The lack of good and loyal manpower prevents establishments from scaling and growing more.

Addressing the issue

“I have been in the F&B industry for 15 years and manpower and staffing has always been a pain point of mine,” says Audrey Tanco-Uy, founder and CEO of ServeHappy Jobs.

In order to address the predicament in the F&B, hospitality, and retail industries, Tanco-Uy established ServeHappy Jobs in 2017, a social impact business that provides an online job portal for companies and jobseekers.

Tanco-Uy recognizes that there are talented individuals who have not been employed. Overseas Filipino workers, armed with new skills, are also coming home from their stints abroad looking to stay and work in the country instead.

“We want to create an ecosystem for the F&B, hospitality, and retail industries where businesses and people are thriving.” Her vision is to create a perpetual cycle in the recruitment space where opportunities for workers are present and businesses get to hire the best people for the job.

How ServeHappy Jobs recruits through social media

ServeHappy Jobs takes advantage of Facebook, where there are currently 60 million Filipino users. The platform has made it easier to reach more jobseekers faster because of its reach, and communicate with them even better through Messenger. Innovations like chatbots have made matching potential candidates more efficient.

Employers can sign up on the ServeHappy Jobs site for free, which allows them to post two job listings that will be up for 30 days. The premium plans offer more features, including a Facebook careers page and a customized brand career site.

Paid users can utilize chatbot messaging and direct email to send interview reminders and application updates straight to the worker. Additionally, ServeHappy Jobs can help create targeted Facebook ads that will pop up on the feeds of both active and passive candidates.

The platform boasts of the unique Applicant Tracking System, which allows the recruiter to review resumes and social media profiles, and schedule interviews with a chosen candidate, and easily generate HR reports from one place.

For Filipino jobseekers, the process is seamless. Interested individuals can browse the job postings on the website or on the community Facebook page. Once they see something that looks like a good fit, they can click on the apply button and their information, profile, and resume will then be sent to the recruiters for review.

Facing challenges head-on

Tanco-Uy admits that it has not been an easy road since setting up the business last year. “Many times, I would be on the verge of giving up,” she says. One of the biggest hurdles they continue to face is balancing supply and demand in the marketplace. The ideal is to be able to provide workers with enough opportunities and, at the same time, have the companies hire the best people. 

The company is also on the lookout for ways to improve the system to make the processes smoother and easier to follow. Then there are the typical funding issues associated with startups where capital is low and the business is struggling financially.

These problems would have been reason enough to stop altogether but Tanco-Uy would find more reasons to keep on going. One of which is being awarded as Best Startup at Seedstars Manila 2017, qualifying them to attend the Seedstars Summit 2018 in Switzerland.

Further, she has also initiated efforts in empowering Filipinos, especially those who are currently unemployed. She is working on creating programs with partners that can help individuals market themselves better to get the job they want.

Perhaps the biggest motivator is the success stories of candidates themselves. “When an applicant is able to find work through the platform, nothing is more satisfying for our team. It makes us feel resolved that we are where we are today for these reasons.”

Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 15 No. 5