Putien S'pore boss gave out S$1,000 red packets to all 3,000 employees & increased salaries by 20% on average

10/10 boss.

Fiona Tan | May 24, 2022, 11:34 AM

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There are many ways to convey your gratitude, and Putien's boss decided to do so by giving each of his 3,000 employees a S$1,000 red packet during the recent Chinese New Year, along with salary increments across the board.

Business hard hit by Covid-19

54-year-old Fong Chi Chung -- also known affectionately as Uncle Fong -- is the founder, owner and Chief Executive Officer of Putien. He hails from Fujian, China, and was granted Singapore citizenship in 2008.

Image from Putien's website.

He opened the first Putien outlet at Kitchener Road in October 2000, which would later go on to be awarded one Michelin Star from 2016 to 2019, and again in 2021.

Since then, Fong has opened several more restaurants in Singapore and overseas.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, his business, like countless others, took a heavy beating.

Speaking to Chinese daily Shin Min Daily News (SMDN), Fong remarked that before the pandemic, business had never been so bad since Putien was first opened some 20 years ago.

Thanking his employees for contributions during Covid-19

During these tough times, some employees took reduced bonuses or gave up their entire bonus in order to help the business weather the effects of the derailing effects of the pandemic.

But by the end of 2021, things were going back to normal and Fong decided to thank his employees for their contributions over the past two years.

This included giving each of his 3,000 or so employees a S$1,000 red packet during Chinese New Year, along with a a salary increment by an average of 20 per cent in January 2022.

Fong said, "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."

Speaking to Michelin, he added the restaurant chain was able to get through the challenging time due to its dedicated restaurant managers.

Shares 30 per cent of profits with staff

Fong is reported to have consistently rewarded his staff in ways that count.

In 2008, the entrepreneur implemented an employee profit-sharing model for his restaurant business. Fong explained that he wanted his team to share in the success that their hard work brings to the business.

This includes redistributing 30 per cent of each restaurant's profits after-tax to his staff every quarter and offering them equity-sharing opportunities.

Image from Putien website.

Multitude of opportunities for staff

In addition, Putien's staff has many opportunities for progression and training made available via the company's F&B Management Academy.

Image from Putien website.

Fong told SMDN that a new hire was able climb up the ranks to restaurant manager within the span of two years, which set the record for the fastest progression at the company.

Restaurant managers are also given full control of running the restaurant, and are told to treat it as if it is their own. Results are gauged according to the respective outlet's earnings, which are proportional to managerial bonuses.

Highest paid manager rakes in S$200,000 a year

According to SMDN, the highest paid store manager has an annual income of S$200,000.

This top earner is not the only individual pulling a six-figure a year at Putien, as the restaurant manager at NEX has also managed this feat.

42-year-old Fang Dawei left his home in China 16 years ago to work in Singapore, joining Putien as a chef five years later. Within the span of eight years of joining the company, he made it to the position of restaurant manager.

Fang originally intended to return home after working in Singapore for two years, but was convinced to stay as he felt the "warmth of (being part of) a family) and having "a lot of opportunities to learn". He admitted that he never thought that he would be able to become a manager, much less command his current salary.

Today, he is a permanent resident and has relocated his wife and son to Singapore to be with him.

Employees are family

Fong has mentioned that he treats his staff as his family and has "complete trust" in them.

Additionally, he wants the workplace to be a home away from home for his staff, many of whom left their hometown to work in Singapore, just like he did decades ago.

According to Fong, this is the secret to good hospitality and customer service. He avers:

"Ultimately, I have many, many customers and I cannot take care of all of them. I can only take care of my employees who in turn will take care of my customers."

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Top image from Putien website