Tech tycoons double down on 996 work debate
After Chinese internet tycoons praised the "996" work schedule - working 12 hours a day from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week - the majority of netizens cautioned that this style of work with forced unpaid overtime should not spread from the tech industry to become a norm.
Jack Ma Yun, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, posted another comment about the "996" culture on his Sina Weibo account on Sunday, saying that the key to the issue is to think about whether you truly like your career and know what your goals are in life.
"Most successful entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and politicians are basically on a schedule of more than 996," Ma said.
Ma's new post came after a backlash from tech workers against the culture of long hours and no paid overtime in the industry, which led to a wider discussion among Chinese society. The hashtag "996 work schedule" on Weibo attracted 310 million views.
Echoing Jack Ma, Richard Liu Qiangdong, founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, said on Friday that in his company "slackers are not my brothers." He added that JD would never force employees to adopt the "996" culture.
Many slammed these tech tycoons' comments, saying that employees are different from the successful entrepreneurs and scientists.
"The daily life of an ordinary employee is not only work, but also spending time with their family and friends. It is not fair to ask employees to work as late as their bosses," one netizen commented on Weibo.
"We can accept the 996 schedule but we need to get paid for our extra work," an employee surnamed Xie from Huawei told the Global Times on Sunday. Xie said that their "996" schedule was not forced, but they are often obliged to work long hours.
"Is it worth it that the value of success comes at the expense of health? Is there a better way to improve efficiency? It is necessary for companies to obey the legal bottom line and reaffirm labor rights," the People's Daily said on its Weibo account on Friday.
However, this long-hours culture is welcomed by some, who think that if you are in a career you love, it is worth working for.
"The real '996' schedule is not just about working overtime, but to keep thinking, learning and improving your personal working ability," said Liu Yuqian, a Beijing-based software developer.
"When you find something you love, you might even want to work '24/24/7,'" said singer Su Xing on Sina Weibo.
Public criticism of "996" has a positive significance. The debate reflects that people are considering their work-life balance, and that high-quality development includes an increase in one's work efficiency, said Zhou Tianyong, a professor at Dongbei University of Finance and Economics.
Internet companies should realize the irreversible trend that is happening in society, and those companies should make adjustments. "Any company who complies with the trend and keeps up its competitiveness will win out in the next round."