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M’sian millennials are desperate and exploited in the workplace

M’sian millennials are desperate and exploited in the workplace

Anne Dorall

At this point, it’s no secret that millennials are the burnout generation and we are all just frazzled, high-strung young adults struggling with anxiety and depression.

Many of us feel a strong conflict between self and duty- to family, to work, to friends. As Malaysians, we have a constant sense of kiasu (not as much as our neighbouring Singaporeans, of course) and feeling like we always need to be better.


That leads to overworking and the eventual burnout. Millennials are constantly exhausted and it’s because of the unrealistic expectations we have to carry.

While fresh graduates face competitive employment opportunities and a dismal starting wage, those employed struggle with wage stagnation and long working hours without OT.

Horrible boss stories are as common as the cockroaches in SS15: they’re everywhere, hiding in the corners, and they jump when you least expect it.


Worse still, there are horrible bosses who seem really nice at first and bribe you with lunches; then suddenly you are working 12 hours shifts, picking up calls at 11pm, rushing reports over the weekend, and listening to pep talks about “passion” and “hustle hard”.

Yet, you hesitate to say anything, because at least you have a job and sometimes you get free food. It’s not all that bad, is it?

Let’s be clear: being asked to work after designated working hours is illegal, not to mention detrimental to employee’s well-being (not that anyone cares, other than HR).


Fresh graduates are the most vulnerable to predatory company practices. “Industry standard” simply means that it’s an acceptable practice to exploit employees.

It also means that if you’re not willing to do, there is always a desperate fresh graduate or unpaid intern who will do it.

Thanks, capitalism.


So if you’re stuck in that situation, what do you do about it?

Don’t feel guilty

Unless being available 24/7 was explicitly stated as part of your job description, never feel guilty for not responding to work after work hours. Emails can wait until the next morning.

Don’t feel obligated

If you have actually completed your work for the day, you’re not obligated to work overtime, especially without compensation. If things do have to be rushed, it’s a favour you’re doing.


Take note of after-hours communication

Though technically illegal, many employers still expect work to be rushed overnight. It’s good to keep a record of work that you’ve done while off the clock. If you realize that you’ve been working off the clock far too often, it’s time to reflect on why that happens.

Work hard then leave

For some reason, Malaysians tend to think that hours spent in the office is proportional to dedication to work. This leads to a lot of people physically in the office mentally doing nothing. If you’re done with work, leave. Jangan kacau orang lain, tau?


Take breaks when you need to

Human brains aren’t wired to be working 24/7, especially with the mental load that we have to deal with each day. Don’t feel embarrassed to take an off day when it’s necessary for your health.

Remember, burning out is a sneaky thing, so if you find yourself crying in the office toilet, it’s time to take a day off.

Don’t let yourself be exploited. You have your own life to live! Tell us your worst boss stories on our Facebook page here.

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