Singapore – In response to a mainstream media commentary regarding workplace burnout, members of the public suggested it should be the employers who get penalised for contacting workers on leave and not the workers for being contactable.
A channelnewsasia.com commentary written by Grace Yeoh wrote about the issue of burning out in one’s career or profession. The author provided helpful tips for those experiencing burnout on how to recharge. It has been increasingly challenging for one to take mindful rest and to hit pause amid a burnout, only to enter a vicious cycle of functioning with low motivation and productivity.
“Perhaps the most effective solution to combat the culture of overwork is to turn rest into another goal we actively pursue, another item on the to-do list, another intentionally scheduled activity,” wrote Ms Yeoh.
Senior clinical psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) Shivasangarey Kanthasamy was also consulted for probable approaches to combatting burnout in a local context. Ms Kanthasamy highlighted that societal and cultural factors play a role in defining what “meaningful work” entails.
Furthermore, there is a huge internal motivating factor for chasing productivity which is the thought of getting a rewarding end result, said Ms Kanthasamy. This pushes individuals to attain concrete outcomes.
A suggestion was to adopt a system of punishment, which Singaporeans seem naturally attuned to, as Ms Yeoh pointed out. “If someone were remotely contactable during their leave, they should get penalised rather than commended.” The system complements the introduction of a “rest KPI (Key Performance Indicators)” wherein workers are graded on how well they can unwind or unplug and be as unproductive as possible during rest.
Responding to the commentary, members from the online community questioned why the focus must be on the employees and suggested it should be the employers who are penalised for reaching out to staff on leave. “Maybe the government should start to penalise the employers first,” said Facebook user Woofie Al who noted it is not the fault of the employee in most cases.
Facebook user Vanessa Yeo used France as an example where contacting employees after 7 pm was generally against the law. Workers in France acquired a “right to disconnect” after a law which became effective on January 1, 2017, permitted staff in companies with more than 50 people to ignore their emails after work hours.
A conversation among netizens also covered the approach but on those with demanding jobs such as nurses. “It’s fine if a nurse is not contactable because there are multiple stand-by doctors, nurses and specialists at the hospital,” said Facebook user Lavi Singh. “Everyone needs their rest days undisturbed, especially nurses.” Others pointed out that nurses should only be contacted for “life or death matters” on their days off.