24/7 work pressure: Is there any end?

April 13th, 2012

A recent survey by an HR firm says majority of public sector employees feel that they are expected to be available by their employees 24/7.  Here the figure for public sector employees is significantly higher than that of the private sector. But the question is: Don’t we all undergo it?

Tell me, whom among all of you switches off his/her cell-phone as soon as you leave office? Or, don’t check messages at home from your bosses?  Further, would not look at an official mail when you are out of the workplace. After all, who among us can attempt to earn our superior’s wrath?

Work-life balance is something that has always remained skewed towards work from time immemorial. You cannot afford to miss a call from your boss or not promptly respond to their messages even if you are away on a holiday or a social event. This is regardless of whether you are a public or a private sector employee. I would even go to an extent of saying that in a public sector company, one can at least give excuses of a weekend, unlike the private sector where even a Sunday may mean work. Taking into consideration the whimsical hire and fire policies, one just cannot be callous about these issues.

While technology has definitely played an important role of maintaining this status quo, the work culture is also to be blamed. Frankly, how many of us have ever turned down any call on a Sunday saying that it being a holiday, we would not work. For professions such as ours, a holiday may end up giving additional pressure to work and produce better content than the normal days.

The western economies have accepted the work-life balance principle as an essential HR tool in their companies. No matter how much ever is the work pressure, a holiday is always considered a holiday.

If one looks at the present survey, the Indian scenario is quite clear. It has been revealed that more than half the employees handle official matters during private time. Also, most employees (79 per cent) also shared that they would receive work-related phone calls/e-mail even on a holiday. Shocking? No, this is completely normal. Also considering that I am one of them.

Here we have come to terms with the fact that once you start earning, work never seems to get over. Though one cannot expect any miracle to happen overnight with the boss shooting an e-mail strictly prohibiting one from working after office hours, one can hope to see a slight change in the HR practices. With Indian firms gradually adapting western work practices, it may not be very far  when one can safely switch off the cell-phone while on leave. That is, neither having to answer the 101 questions of the angry boss later for this behaviour nor having to give excuses for doing so. Happy hoping!

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