Overworked Gen Y, don’t kill yourself

I’ve been reading article on lazy Gen Y throughout the year. Gen Y aka people of my age are known to be more demanding, lazy, entitled and pampered. There maybe some truth in it. Maybe it is true after all because I personally, am not willing to give up my freedom at the moment for things my parents worked for when they were my age.

But that’s not the point. People have been generalizing and making statements about how bad their work ethics are do not justify the real situation. What about Gen-Y people who work their asses off? When I graduated from university, I was just another yuppie – young urban professional. Accenture, Big 4 and other big firms are our pride but at the same time, we sold our soul to the company. I was one of those who bragged about my OTs, late nights and never ending work. I don’t really remember greeting a colleague and would be replied with a positive answer. Everyone looked haggard, tired but still very proud. In fact, 8 out of 10 “Good Morning-s” were never replied because they are too concentrated. Being a newbie in such an environment, I had no choice but to be one of them. I thought it was THE RIGHT THING! Because if I fail to be like them, I am just not good enough. Therefore, I will not be given further opportunities and maybe branded as lazy.

With such a work life, of course, I was always irritated. I often return home with a horrible mood but still, I never stop doing my work. Everyone around me were whining nonstop but we continued. I still remember when a superior was very happy to see us in a discussion at 8pm and he told us to “Keep it up!”.

I am not the only one. I have a friend, A who works nonstop – day and night. He even had to cut his vacation short to return to work on a Sunday because his boss asked him to. He is also not able to plan his vacation because something might come up suddenly. Friend B is also another person I know who sleeps in office because he has to work till very late. Tight budgets and bad timelines. Friend C also can’t plan his holiday in advance because of work. He dumps his girlfriend halfway through a movie in cinema because work calls.

I was lucky, I found a job in Germany where planning is done logically. OTs are paid off – thus, no crazy OT hours. However, hearing all these stories from my friends scare me. I started to ponder, what’s the problem? Of course, I had my OTs/late nights in Germany but it didn’t affect my personal life and they weren’t as often as they were in Malaysia. Are we micromanaging too much? Or do we plan imprecisely without much sense?

What saddens me the most are the stories of young and ambitious professionals who die at their working desk. A bright and beautiful girl from China who was an auditor in China passed away due to excessive work. In November 2013, an intern died in London after working 72 hours straight and few days ago, a copywriter in Indonesia passed away after working 30 hours. An acquaintance of mine who often finishes work past midnight and starts work at 8.30am had an accident as she fell asleep while driving to work – she was lucky enough to survive.

Life is really very fragile. Don’t you think it is very selfish to sacrifice our family, health and life for our work. Technically, we work to survive but it’s just not worth it to sacrifice ourselves for a paycheck. Imagine parents who brought their children up and are proud of their graduation, first job and that’s it……. When I reminded my friends to have a bit of work life balance in their life and forwarded them the article of the indonesian copywriter who passed away, they just replied “lol”.

It is really fine to do OT. It is okay to strive for the best. It makes total sense to work hard. But please, keep your family in mind. If you are sick, you are sick. If you need sleep, you need sleep. Our body is made to rest when it’s time. Don’t let it force a shut down because you should know you limits. Someone once told me, “If you die because you overworked, your boss will walk up to your parents, shake their hands and say – she was a very good employee.”. Is that worth it?

Please stop bragging about overworking. There’s nothing to be proud about. In fact, it’s time to reconsider your priorities in life. Bosses, if you can make a difference, please do.