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Empowering Filipinos with information

/ 12:02 AM June 13, 2016
KWENTONG Empleyado is led by (from left) chief technology officer Daryl Lobren, creative technologist Jeru Gasendo and chief executive officer Gerard Martin Cueto.

KWENTONG Empleyado is led by (from left) chief technology officer Daryl Lobren, creative technologist Jeru Gasendo and chief executive officer Gerard Martin Cueto.

While there is a Labor Code to protect Filipino employees, most people in the Philippines are probably not familiar with its particulars.

Gerard Martin Cueto, co-founder of Kwentong Empleyado, used to be the same way, but after a bad experience with a previous employer, he researched his employee rights and even sought legal action.

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After thinking more about what had happened to him, Cueto wanted to empower other employees when it came to choosing the companies they should work for. He thus started a project that would eventually become Kwentong Empleyado, harnessing his experience overseeing the development of websites, mobile apps, and the digital components of events or activations.

Cueto also searched for other team members, which he colorfully compared to Nick Fury trying to form the Avengers. The challenge here was finding people who not only had domain expertise, but who were trustworthy and could work in a team.

After finding his team members, Cueto and his team endeavored to solve several problems through the Kwentong Empleyado platform—chief among them was the information gap that Filipino employees had with their potential employers.

“It’s not knowing enough about a particular company (workload, corporate culture, how management treats employees, etc.) when applying for a position in the said company, especially since not every important detail is relayed by HR or supervisors in interviews,” Cueto said.

This function is achieved through anonymous company reviews, which are published on the site immediately. Cueto said that these reviews can be powerful and informative, since the people most qualified to speak about a company are those who have worked there or work there currently.

With this feature, Kwentong Empleyado could be likened most to employer review site, Glassdoor, which has some activity in the Philippines but is focused on the United States, where it is located.

There will be mechanisms in place to prevent disgruntled employees from simply dishing out revenge online. Users can flag questionable reviews, and the Kwentong Empleyado team will then review it to see if it violates any guidelines, including whether it has profanity or aggressive language, identifies anyone by name, or discloses classified information about the company, such as trade secrets or processes.

The platform will also have other features, including information on employee rights—the most common abuses are dismissal without due cause or process as well as unpaid wages. “Since both of those issues are directly tied to living expenses, I believe preventing them is of utmost importance,” Cueto said.

There will also be salary information, which will help employees know their market value, based on different variables.

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“Other pieces of info such as years of experience, status (current employee or former employee) and job category will enable users to better track salaries for multiple jobs within an industry and even see the average, lowest, and highest salary amount for a particular job title,” Cueto said, adding that on a basic level, employees will be able to see whether a company offers competitive salaries.

“Eventually, we also aim to address problems relating to job interviews, employment benefits, taxes and other Pinoy employee concerns,” Cueto added.

While many of these features are similar to what international or even regional sites have, Cueto wants to differentiate Kwentong Empleyado through its localization.

“Kwentong Empleyado has a local focus. We’d like users to feel that it’s tailor-made for Pinoys—Filipino website name, extensive database of local companies, reviews which can be written in English or Filipino,” he said.

On a product level, Cueto emphasizes that the no-approval process for reviews and salaries will make it easier to contribute data.

“We also plan on presenting or organizing the employee data we will get in some unique and very useful ways,” he said, clarifying that the goal of their portal is to inform employees, not list job openings.

With the beta site now live, Cueto said the biggest challenge would be building an active community willing to contribute reviews and salaries. The team’s overall strategy is to interact with Filipinos where they may already be looking for advice on how to get a job or earn a raise.

To this end, they will be active in relevant groups on Facebook, such as those relating to human resources or employment opportunities, and may even collaborate with existing job boards.

“We will also make use of the wealth of advanced advertising opportunities that digital offers—LinkedIn ads and Google search being the most relevant,” Cueto said, adding, “It’s constant experimentation and knowing the market’s behavior that drives our marketing.”

In the short term, Cueto wants Kwentong Empleyado to become the go-to resource for Filipino employees for both employer reviews and compensation information. In the long term, he wants to move beyond these data points by becoming an end-to-end portal for both Filipino employees here and abroad.

“We know that the job hunting or job application process in the Philippines can leave employees and applicants at a disadvantage because of lack of information or transparency, and we’d like to address this gap,” Cueto concluded.

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