Malaysian Employers Federation: Those who work long hours not necessarily productive

PHOTO: Malaysian Employers Federation: Those who work long hours not necessarily productive

PETALING JAYA - Employers have been urged to rethink the way they view employee productivity - by looking at their achievements and not the number of hours spent in the office.

Citing a lack of trust as the main reason most Malaysian employers did not allow flexible work arrangements, such as working from home, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Sham­suddin Bardan said this mindset had to change.

Sham­suddin Bardan pointed out that employees who spent long hours at the office were not necessarily productive.

Companies that practised flexible work arrangements, including allowing employees to work from home, had found improved work quality and commitment and reduced stress levels among its workers, he noted.

"Most Malaysian companies are not ready and not interested in implementing flexible working arrangements yet.

"We are very traditional in our set-up. Work still means being away from home and being at the work environment for eight to 10 hours a day," he said during a "Flexible Work Arrangements Workshop" yesterday.

Shamsuddin said a mindset change was needed among employers, who needed to trust their employees enough to allow them to work from home.

As for the employees, he said, they needed to be responsible and not to misuse the freedom given to them.

"Once you have been given that kind of freedom, you must use it responsibly. It may not be possible to develop that trust within a year, but if we do it in stages, I believe it is possible," he said.

In a survey conducted by the MEF on 199 companies last year, it was found that only 28.1 per cent of them were promoting work-life balance policies. Of this number, however, most of the companies were multinational corporations.

The workshop was conducted by the MEF in collaboration with Talent Corp.

At another session, Talentcorp special projects head Salika Suksu­wan pointed out that Malaysia had the lowest participation of women in the workforce in ASEAN.

She said only 49.5 per cent of Malaysian women, within the working age group, were in the workforce.