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Does Jack Ma Realise What Working Overtime Will Actually Cost Us?

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In times when we all are struggling to get a grip on work-life balance, working overtime is the last thing on our minds. Can we afford to put the burden of extra hours on our already worn out working lives? The bigger question however is, if putting overtime at work becomes a criteria for hiring, who will suffer the most? Your guess is as good as mine. Nothing good can come from pulling overtime on continual basis. But this isn’t stopping Alibaba founder Jack Ma from advocating it.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Jack Ma recently dubbed working overtime as a “huge blessing” for young workers.
  • Can we afford to put in extra hours on our already worn out working lives?
  • Heavens help if working overtime ends as a hiring criterion across companies.
  • It will especially affect working women, who have a lot of work on their plate outside of the office too.

Can we afford to put the burden of extra hours on our already worn out working lives?

Ma recently dubbed working overtime as a “huge blessing” for young workers on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, reports The Indian Express. But that’s not it, in a speech to Alibaba staff last week, he made it clear that the company expected workers to put in 12 hours a day since it had huge commitments to its clients. “If you don’t work 996 when you are young, when will you? Do you think never having to work 996 in your life is an honour to boast about?” he said.

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996 here represent the culture of working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. Yes, Ma wants his staff to work on the 996 module and if he succeeds in pushing it, a lot of companies may not be far behind. What scares one the most is that this could prompt companies to make long working hours or pulling an overtime as a hiring criterion. So getting a job in future may not just depend on your qualifications or talent, but the amount of man hours you are willing to put in on weekly basis.

Ma has practically shamed the youth for not working overtime. But is life, even in your twenties, just about working relentlessly?

This module leaves very little time for a person to focus on other aspects of her or his life. Will any person remain in a good state of mind for recreation or spending quality time with loved ones, after working for twelve hours, six days in a row? Wouldn’t it also affect the quality of their work, as their mind and body would have very little time to relax and reboot. Thus the wear and tear from working overtime will not just cost us the leisure time, it will hugely affect worker’s overall well-being.

Is Jack Ma is thinking and talking only from the perspective of young male employees?

However, it will also make life more difficult for working women, than it already is. It is very difficult for women, especially in countries like India and China, to juggle both professional and personal lives. Married women and mothers are expected to ace their duties at home, all the while excelling at work. Life is a tight rope for these women, as they hold the beam called work-life balance and cross it. One misstep and they will fall, either on the professional or on the personal front.

The wear and tear from working overtime will not just cost us the leisure time, it will hugely affect worker’s overall well-being.

Working overtime will only make matters worse for them, as they would only have twelve hours at their disposal, to take care of all their household duties, tend to their kids and rest. Where will leisure and self-care fit in this equation? What prospects does a talented working mother have on professional front, if it becomes mandatory to put in overtime? Does she deserve the stress and ensuing guilt of being neglectful on either of the two fronts?

Jack Ma is thinking and talking only from the perspective of young male employees, who have time and energy to pull in 996. However this module isn’t fair to young men as well, as life at no point of time should be just about work. He is prioritising quantity over quality and output over well-being of his employees. Agreed that some people may be able to pull off the 996 model of work, but will an employee remain young forever? Should he or she neglect his family life for the sake of employment? What would happen to workers as they grow old and their mind and bodies can no longer endure the sheer wear off this format will bring? Ma needs to answer these question, that too openly, before he further advocates working overtime.

Image Credit: Indian Express

Also Read: Pankaj Tripathi Has No Qualms Admitting He Survived On Wife’s Salary

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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