Does your employer encourage you to go on leave and also never bothers you when you’re on vacay mode? We hope that’s the case because experts think this should be everyone’s company culture!
According to a recent 2018 Expedia Vacation Deprivation study, it revealed that most Malaysians are deprived of holidays. On top of that, 64% of these people would even cancel their vacation plans, all in the name of work. Why would people do that? T_T
Reacting to the results of this study, HELP University Department of Psychology head Elaine Fernandez thinks that the reason why the numbers are so high is because of our local company culture that typically “frames the ideal employee as someone who lives and breathes organisational outcomes” with the gold standard being staff who “go the extra mile”.
She was quoted by The Star as saying,
“It’s this culture that shames people into staying past regular working hours, to respond to emails on weekends, or to either cancel plans or continue working while on vacation.”
“Bosses model these expectations either by working outside regular hours themselves, or crossing the boundaries of employees’ personal time by requesting work and expecting immediate responses to these requests after hours and even when employees are on leave,” she added.
As a result, here’s what most Malaysian employees are moulded into thinking: My time off is not entirely mine, and in order to be a ‘good’ employee, I need to comply to my boss’ requests, even if it means this would eat into my personal time.
So, what’s the ideal company culture supposed to look like then? What are employers and employees encouraged to do? Here are a few key pointers we got from The Star’s report:
1. Bosses should encourage employees to take leave when they need it
On top of encouraging them to take a break, employers should also respect that boundary. After all, those who “switch off” from work while on holiday are found to be more productive. Case in point? Developed countries like Australia are exhibit A when it comes to being able to set and respect firm boundaries between work and time off. Despite this, their economy is clearly not on the losing end, Fernandez pointed out.
2. Bosses should leave work on time and encourage their staff to do the same
After all, leaders need to lead by example, right? According to Fernandez, bosses need to model this good behaviour first. She explained, “Ultimately, seeing employees as people who do – and should – have lives outside of work is the first step towards creating a positive work culture that boosts employee mental health in the long term.”
Of course, we all know that overworking leads to stress or burnout, and this results in high turnover and lower productivity!
3. Staff taking time off is actually good for business
Malaysia Mental Health Association president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj hopes that more Malaysian employers will realise this and incorporate it in their company culture. After all, holidays promote mental health and employers who take care of their staff’s psychological well-being will benefit by having workers who are less stressed, thus leading to better morale, lower turnover rate and higher productivity.
4. Malaysians should go on a digital detox and not answer work calls on holiday
Dr Mohanraj also thinks it’s ironic how Malaysia has so many public holidays, yet, employees actually deserve more. He said, “The high percentage of Malaysians cancelling holiday plans for work could be due to fear of being regarded as being less dedicated to their work or less loyal to the company. Malaysians may also fear that going on long breaks could result in them missing out on participating in important company decisions.” Have no fear and go on that holiday you deserve, okay?
The solution? Take a break from both your work and digital devices – and that means no answering work-related calls. He added, “It may be difficult to be completely cut off from communicating on work-related matters, particularly at a senior management level. But clear boundaries can be set on using communication devices during vacation.” On the bright side, the survey also showed that 40 per cent of Malaysians reportedly have bosses who are supportive of them taking leaves. Phew, baby steps!
Does your company culture already have some of these things in practice? Tell us about your company culture and what you wish can be improved in the comments below!
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