How to Minimise Work Stress in Your Office
Does Asian work culture clash with work-life balance?
Employees in Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong worked 12 hours more than their contracted hours compared to Australian workers, according to AIA Vitality.
This trend of working long hours is not exclusive to these Asian countries. According to a Philippine Statistics Authority report, the number of Filipinos overworked in their primary jobs significantly increased by 41.2% from 1995 to 2015. Meanwhile in Indonesia, 14.3% of Indonesian employees work 20 hours beyond their 40-hour workweek requirement according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In 2016, Bangkok, Thailand ranked 5th in terms of having the longest working hours globally. A United Bank of Switzerland survey revealed that workers in Bangkok clock in an average of 42.7 hours weekly. Even foreign workers serving in the tourism industry suffer from this. Reports show that they take only two days off monthly; they are even overworked up to 17-19 hours daily during peak months.
In Vietnam, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs proposed that employees “may work a maximum of 600 extra hours” annually. This is a significant increase from the maximum allowable overtime hours in 2016, wherein people were only allowed to work extra 200 hours at the most.
The toll of long working hours on employees
From errors in the workplace to potentially life-threatening scenarios outside of it, long working hours have a detrimental effect on employees. This has been proven by a survey conducted by pharmaceutical prescribing reference guide MIMS.
According to the survey, almost half of healthcare providers (more than 133 out of 298) in neighbouring countries Malaysia and Singapore admitted that they had dozed off while driving after a long day at work.
Doctors also shared that the exhaustion from working long hours had caused them to be involved in a motor vehicle accident (26.5%); 56.1% of them had made medical errors.
Overworked pharmacists (61.4%) shared the same sentiments: They had committed medical errors due to workplace stress.
The long working hours also translate to inefficiency. The same AIA Vitality survey shows that Asian countries have higher productivity loss after factoring in employee absence and presenteeism. Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong filed an average of 66, 54 and 71 days productivity loss annually. This is more than twice the rate in the United Kingdom, which is 30 days; Australia recorded an average of 45 days.
The longer the working hours, the more exhausted the employees are. In turn, the more they struggle with productivity.
Needless to say, overworked employees cannot function at their best. Their physical health suffers and the quality of their sleep deteriorates. This contributes to the high levels of depression in Asia, particularly those working in the construction, financial, and insurance industries.
Achieving work-life balance
Workplace stress may eventually become unmanageable because of the long hours. Employers have the faculty to hold the balance and put importance on employee welfare.To help employees achieve work-life balance, follow these five quick tips. 5 Tips to Reduce Long Working Hours
Change the Asian work culture if it is toxic. Long working hours do not always translate to productivity.
Enjoy the benefits of delegating tasks. Collaborate with your team when you need to. Train colleagues so they can develop the necessary skills when you delegate some of your work to them. This will come in handy especially for leaves.
Speak up. Asians, in general, are hesitant to voice out what they need and think. Whenever you feel shy, remember that more work can get done more efficiently when you speak up.
Cascade your goals. Letting employees know what is expected from them equips them to be productive. Being clear and precise will help them work their way towards a common goal.
Encourage flexible work arrangements. When employees have control over their time, they can manage it better and achieve work-life balance in a way that works both for them and the company.
Across Asia, employees feel compelled to stay long hours at the office. Due to the unwritten work culture, employees constantly experience stress and fatigue.
Even if employees have jobs that matter, overworking, especially for extender hours, can still feel exhausting. As the workplace continues to evolve, will you be one of the industry leaders to embrace work-life balance?
For more practical advice and expert insights on how to help your teams stay passionate, productive, and healthy in the workplace, visit our Employer Insights page. Keep your finger on the pulse of what Malaysian employees want out of their careers with Laws of Attraction. To find top-calibre talent for #JobsThatMatter to your business, use Talent Search and gain access to one of the largest databases in the region.
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