Business Essentials for Professionals


Overtime Work Culture Defended As Being A 'Huge Blessing' By Alibaba Founder

Overtime Work Culture Defended As Being A 'Huge Blessing' By Alibaba Founder
The often criticised but rampant work culture of gruelling overtime at many of the tech companies of China has been defended by the billionaire founder of the Alibaba Group Jack Ma. He has said that such a work culture is a "huge blessing" especially for the young employees.
These comments were made by the founder owner of the Chinese e-commerce giant as he weighed into a debate related to achieving a work-life balance and the culture and trend of gruelling overtime hours as is being demanded form employees of tech companies in the country as the industry now faces a slowdown after years if significant growth.
The '996' work schedule of the tech industry was defended veraciously by Ma while speaking to Alibaba employees. The concept of '996' work schedule signifies working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day for six days a week.
"I personally think that being able to work 996 is a huge blessing," he said in remarks posted on the company's WeChat account. "Many companies and many people don't have the opportunity to work 996," Ma said. "If you don't work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?"
These comments have been met with a vicious online debate and even protests on some coding platforms. While criticising the comments, employees have even swapped examples of excessive overtime demands at some companies.
Alibaba was founded by Ma in 1999 which transformed him from being a simple English teacher to become one of the richest individuals in China. He said they working long hours was a regular affair for him and some of his early employees.
"In this world, everyone wants success, wants a nice life, wants to be respected," Ma said. "Let me ask everyone, if you don't put out more time and energy than others, how can you achieve the success you want?" he added.
Ma said that there are no jobs for a number of people today in the tech industry or such people are working in tech companies that are still looking out for revenues or were facing imminent closure.
"Compared to them, up to this day, I still feel lucky, I don't regret (working 12 hour days), I would never change this part of me," he said.
A project which has been named "996.ICU", where Alibaba was listed by tech workers as a company that has amongst the worst working conditions in the industry, was launched this month by activists on Microsoft's GitHub, the online code repository site.
China's Labor Law that mandates that the average work hours cannot exceed 40 hours a week, were being violated by the 996 concept, said an opinion piece published in a state newspaper in China on Thursday.
"Creating a corporate culture of 'encouraged overtime' will not only not help a business' core competitiveness, it might inhibit and damage a company's ability to innovate," the unnamed author wrote in the People's Daily.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc