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Are we overworking or working hard?

July 1, 2024

KUALA LUMPUR – I CAN’T imagine my colleagues refusing to take my calls or text messages after 5pm or during weekends.

But that’s because I have worked in the media all my life. Working in the newsroom is exciting because the unexpected always happens and we are expected to be on the alert.

I remember my then news editor Nizam Mohamad looking at me sternly, saying I should join the civil service if I wanted to leave the office at 5pm.

If that wasn’t enough, we happily joined him for late supper after work, which was usually after midnight.

Second, I am a baby boomer, someone born between 1946 and 1964, a reference to a member of the generation born during the population surge in that period.

We treated our jobs and took our superiors seriously.

Most of us, rightly or wrongly, stuck to one employer.

Finally, I am an Asian. The idea of comparing my work culture with those from New Zealand, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Canada, seems farfetched.

I take pride in the Confucian value that working hard is simply part of being a good person.

The Chinese philosopher’s work ethic also consists of loyalty to the organisation, thrift, dedication, social harmony, love for education, wisdom, and concern for social propriety.

These Western countries finished top in a recent survey for work-life balance out of 60 countries in the Global Life-Work Balance Index.

Well, to my surprise, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and China actually beat us.

Malaysia was ranked the second-worst country with Nigeria in the last spot.

It also amazed me that the United States was placed 53rd out of the 60 nations surveyed.

The survey was compiled by a human resources solutions company known as Remote, the index reviewed the 60