It’s no secret that all employees love good bosses.
And it seems like there’s no shortage of that in Singapore, especially if you ask those who work at Chinese restaurant chain Putien.
While the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the restaurant industry for sure, Putien boss Fong Chi Chung chose to reward his employees for getting through the toughest patch during the pandemic.
And if you’re thinking that the “reward” was just something like a day off or a meal, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Fong, 54, forked out red packets worth $1,000 for each of his 3,000 employees during the recent Chinese New Year celebration and even gave everyone a salary raise.
Excuse me, are they hiring more people?
Fong, known as Uncle Fong to his employees, is the founder, owner and Chief Executive Officer of Putien.
After coming to Singapore from Fujian, China, he obtained Singapore citizenship over a decade ago in 2008.
In 2000, he set up the first Putien outlet at Kitchener Road.
The outlet earned one Michelin Star from 2016 to 2019, and in 2021 as well.
Currently, there are 18 Putien outlets in Singapore.
Putien has also expanded to other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, a testament to the chain’s success.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Company
When recalling the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the restaurant industry, Fong told Shin Min Daily News that business was the worst it had ever been since he opened his first Putien restaurant more than two decades ago.
He then acknowledged the actions of his employees, for there were employees who were willing to claim a smaller amount of money for their bonus to help the company tide over that period of time.
Some employees even completely forgoed their bonuses.
Thankfully, by the end of 2021, business started picking up and returned to normal.
Thanking Employees for Contributions
In order to express his gratitude toward his employees, Fong gave each employee a $1,000 red packet during Chinese New Year this year.
In January this year, he also increased his employees’ salaries by an average of 20%.
“I don’t regard this as their reward as I feel that this is what they deserve to get. They’ve worked hard for the past two years, and I hope that we will continue to strive together,” he told Shin Min.
Staff Gets 30% of Profits
And if you think that’s all the perks that Putien employees get, you’re wrong.
According to Fong, he rolled out an employee profit-sharing model in 2008 for Putien in order for employees to also benefit from the business’ success.
With the model, 30% of every restaurant’s after-tax profits are issued to staff members every quarter. Equity-sharing opportunities are also provided.
Putien’s Staff Opportunities
As part of the opportunities that Putien offers its staff, some include progression and training managed by Putien’s F&B Management Academy.
According to Fong, the fastest record of promotion was when a new employee ended up being promoted to the role of restaurant manager in two years.
Once employees assume the role of restaurant manager, they are given the authority to manage the restaurant entirely on their own.
The managerial bonuses are calculated based on how much their outlets earn.
It was also shared with Shin Min that the highest-paid store manager at Putien earns $200,000. Another restaurant manager also takes home a six-figure annual salary as well.
As for who this top performer is, he is 42-year-old Fang Dawei.
Fang initially came to Singapore from China 16 years ago and started working for Putien as a chef five years after arriving in Singapore.
In eight years, he managed to rise up the ranks and assumed the role of restaurant manager.
Although he had planned to return to his hometown after working in Singapore for two years, he ended up staying in Singapore and obtained permanent citizenship due to the warm environment of Putien that provided him with “many opportunities to learn”.
He even brought his wife and son over to Singapore so that his family can live together.
He also added that he did not ever think that he would be able to reach this point in his career or draw such a large salary.
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Fong’s Principle of Treating Staff as Family
With regards to the way he treats his staff, Fong said that he has “complete trust” in them and sees them as his family.
He explained that he would want to create a workplace that feels like a home away from home since many of his staff members have left their hometowns to work in a foreign country, just like him.
Fong also cited this attitude as the “secret” to the good hospitality and customer service that his restaurant provides, as he is unable to take care of every single customer.
Instead of trying to take care of all the customers, he has instead chosen to take care of his employees, who will then take care of his customers.
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