Employees share their attitudes toward overtime working culture

By Huang Lanlan Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/24 17:18:42

The ‘996’ debate

The "996" overtime schedule - working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week - has been the topic of heated debate for days after a few IT industry staffers complained about their long working hours earlier this month with the slogan "996 ICU." 

"What is '996 ICU'? Work '996', sick in ICU," they wrote online, being echoed by lots of netizens from all walks of life who later joined the grumble over extra working time.

Although some domestic e-commerce tycoons, including Alibaba Group's founder Jack Ma Yun, have indirectly praised the "996" culture, employees may have different views from their executives and stakeholders.

The Global Times randomly asked five employees from different industries.

Cheng Li, 29, project art director

I work at a game company which forces staffers to strictly obey the "996" schedule. I work between 9 am to 9:30 pm every Monday to Saturday. At work, I am always too busy to rest except during the 90-minute lunch break.

At my company, latecomers will be fined five yuan ($0.75) per minute. I was fined and criticized one day last month for being late, because that morning I was exhausted and reluctant to get up. 

The "996" schedule is quite common in our gaming industry. I personally disapprove of this schedule, as working long hours can make people tired and run out of inspiration. 

Worse still, working overtime usually makes me frail and stressed. I tried to sleep longer after work to improve my physical and mental conditions, only to find that I have less free time to do some reading or other things I like. That's sad.

I receive no overtime pay for working far more than 40 hours a week. 

Nonetheless, this job offers me a relatively decent salary - 50 percent higher than my previous job did. I'm basically fine with that.

Chen Gong, 33, programmer

As an IT company staffer, working overtime is all too common for me. Though my colleagues and I are allowed to clock out at 6:15 pm, more than 80 percent of us actually have to work until 8 pm or even later. There are always lots of things to deal with.

In other words, my boss doesn't force me to work a "996," but he has indirectly tied me to my office chair with so much work that I can never finish within a normal eight-hour day.

I have little overtime wages apart from a 30-yuan daily transport allowance. I know the salary of a programmer is higher than most others', but I have to work overtime unpaid.

The "996" culture is very popular in our fiercely competitive IT industry. Having been used to this type of work schedule, I'm not very much against it as long as employers don't set it as a hard-and-fast rule.

Luo Shasha, 29, university administrative staffer

I work at a non-government-funded university with a very normal schedule: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. But actually, I work overtime and leave my office around 9 pm at least three days a week.

That is partly because there are lots of unexpected events that occupy my work time. For example, if my boss asked me to attend a two-hour meeting this afternoon, I would have to put aside my work and attend the meeting first. After that, I must spend another two hours finishing the day's remaining work.

My job is mainly about operating and managing our university's new media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat accounts. As a perfectionist at work, I always try my best to improve the quality of the articles I post, spending a lot of time editing and even rewriting them.

As a result, I often volunteer to work overtime. Proverbs like "no pain, no gain" make sense to me. I believe that in our 20s and 30s, working hard is more important than beer and skittles.

Tiffany, 27, television reporter

Media workers usually have more flexible schedules, so do I. Generally my working time is between 10 am and 6:30 pm, but I don't have to sit in the office the whole time. My boss allows me to occasionally work at home.

Nonetheless, flexible working hours also mean that you have to work almost anytime when needed. As a reporter, my colleagues and I must react to emergency events as soon as possible no matter whether I'm on duty or not.

I personally haven't got extra pay for working overtime. I've heard that I can apply for a transport subsidy instead, but I don't know much about the application process.

Working overtime is far from uncommon for my media peers and me. I once worked for a start-up media company where they adopted the "996", and even the "997 (working 12 hours a day from 9 am to 9 pm, seven days a week)" schedule. 

I strongly disapprove of the "996." A company could have many other ways to improve its performance and KPI (key performance indicators) rather than imposing overly long working hours on its employees, which isn't beneficial for their health and efficiency.

Li Xingnan, 26, financial company administrative and personnel staffer

From 8:30 am to 5 pm, five days a week, I enjoy a relatively comfortable schedule and seldom work overtime. That is very unusual in such a busy industry.

I know that the majority of my peers at other financial companies work long hours. But they are likely to get better pay. The salary my company offers is usually 10 percent lower than the industry average. On top of that,  my boss only pays 10 yuan per hour to his employees for overtime.

I'm generally satisfied with my current job. Though I'm not paid that well, it allows me to rest and enjoy life after work. 

I have never tried the "996," nor do I want to experience it unless the pay is over 20,000 yuan per month after tax.

Photo: IC



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