Revolutionizing Company Recognition and Rewards

The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Ezra Ferraz, this chapter is titled, “Revolutionizing Company Recognition and Rewards.” In it, Celeste Ong, the Assistant vice President for Human Resources of Phoenix Petroleum, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in motivating employees through rewards. 

Teamwork, excellence, service, stewardship, innovation, and integrity or TESSII are the core values that drive Phoenix Petroleum’s success. Today, it is a challenge for companies to actively engage employees while pursuing a holistic formation of company values. This is why it’s especially worth noting the employee reward system that comes from Phoenix Petroleum. This reward system has precisely enabled Phoenix Petroleum to create a work culture centered on TESSII. 


Celeste Ong, the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources of Phoenix Petroleum credited CEO Dennis Uy for the effectiveness of the company's Christmas bonus in impressing the spirit of teamwork and service. At their annual Christmas party, employees received bonuses for “helping other people.” This system has had remarkable effects as employees are highly encouraged, together with their families, to help the community. Each employee was given 2000 pesos in addition to their actual bonus to be spent purposefully on someone else, be it an individual, group, or organization.  


At the party, Dennis particularly emphasized the division of their bonuses. He advised them to designate a portion for Christmas expenses, a portion for savings, and a particular amount specifically for helping out others. Where the cash goes is decided entirely by the employee. According to Celeste, “Most employees pool resources and give them to institutions that help the poor while others give it to the barangay (the smallest local government unit in the Philippines) or the church that they go to, anything that would make a difference.”


This system not only helps build a culture of service but also the feeling of family amongst the employees, therefore employees are generally happy. “The employees cherish the 2000 pesos and almost half of them help more people afterward,” Celeste said. “They are reassured that by promoting this culture of taking care of others, the company is likewise taking care of its employees. When employees feel backed by the company, individual work performance increases.”


In addition to the actual giving, they are encouraged to share their stories internally. These stories are recognized in publication through the company newsletter and incentivized later on in an online recognition system titled “You Did Great.” Phoenix Hero is also another recognition system that rewards someone who shows exemplary performance for any TESSII core value. Past nominees are people who are able to show extraordinary practice for health and safety in the workplace. Lastly, another incentive Phoenix Petroleum offers is free lunch every day. This practice started in Davao. This is to help their employees accumulate greater long term savings. Overall, an employee-based reward and recognition system was essential in integrating the TESSII values that the company abided by. 


Despite the success of Celeste’s department, she still recognized the need to innovate their company’s practices. Celeste regularly conducted meetings every two months with other HR groups and invites resource staff to discuss new and best HR practices to apply in the company. They make decisions regarding which Health Maintenance Organization is best to acquire services from and which insurance company would be beneficial for everyone in the company. 


Recently, Celeste has pushed for her unit to be more adept at online remote working. This shift is demanded now more than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She expressed the importance to gradually shift from a traditional face-to-face work set-up to a more flexible work situation by using Zoom in order to better facilitate her meetings. 


This shift was crucial when the pandemic showed no sign of slowing down. In the midst of the pandemic, Phoenix Petroleum had its quarterly meeting via Zoom which included the entire company from different regions all over the Philippines. They had a total of 750 participants, including CEO Dennis Uy. The overall agenda was to discuss the present situation and projections of the company amidst COVID-19. Employees were highly encouraged to ask questions. These questions were gathered in advance and designated to the right person who could give the answer. 


Celeste was in charge of questions related to operations and employee welfare. In the meeting, the main question Celeste needed to address was related to the security of jobs. Employees were anxious and lacked information about the status of the company. Luckily for Phoenix Petroleum, the energy sector was badly needed. Therefore, Celeste was able to reassure the employees that 75% of the company’s operations are still ongoing. Phoenix Petroleum was able to give out half of the thirteen-month pay and advanced another bonus for April. The employees were also guaranteed a full salary for up to three months. The company also promised incentives if the employees achieved targets. 


Amidst the pandemic, Phoenix Petroleum’s first priority is the employee’s health followed second by the business and its sustainability. In order to address both, they have shifted their focus on rallying together to help frontliners combat the virus. They have provided LPGs for kitchens that serve frontliners. They provided gasoline for busses that transported frontliners. They have also maintained operations for their gasoline stations to provide transport fuel and other services. They have also maintained operations for Family Mart, one of Phoenix Petroleum’s subsidiaries, to provide food. 


Overall, even in a crisis like COVID-19, Phoenix Petroleum prides itself on being employee-centered. Compared to other multinational gas companies, they were able to makee decisions faster because they shifted to a remote online working set-up. 


“This enables employees to directly reach their boss, employees don’t need to go through several department units,” Celeste said. And even when there is no crisis, Phoenix Petroleum still manages to put its employees first and foremost through its revolutionary recognition and reward system. 


 

To get more insights from other HR leaders like Celeste Ong, please check out the full book, available for purchase here


The 50 - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks.

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