The Problem of Working Overtime in Malaysia

Essay details

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Problem Analysis
  • Point of Views
  • Conclusion


Studies have shown that among Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia these four countries surveyed, Malaysian employees recorded 67 days of presenteeism and absenteeism in a year, which rank after Hong Kong. Presenteeism is one of the problems of employees which they do not perform well during working hours because of personal illness, injured or other condition. While absenteeism is employees take leave regularly or habitually and absence from work without a good reason. This survey that conducted by AIA Vitality found that Malaysian employees work around 15 hours more than their actual working hours per week, but still Malaysia has the lowest productivity and efficiency compared to other countries. The world is changing, and also every company in the same industry need to compete with each other to fight for the competitive advantages as well as higher position in the industry. Thus this causes their employees to work overtime to complete their tons of works.

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Although with the implementation of the Malaysia Employment Law that limits 48 working hours per week, but still there are local and foreign workers that demand for working overtime for extra wages. Despite there is the implementation of the law, still there are news reported that hundred of foreign workers from Nepal that works in Malaysia suffered from illness and death due to working overtime. This shows that the implementation does not dampen their desire to work more than their actual hour.

Another survey that was carried out, targeted 47 organisations and 5376 employees in cities, showed that they are overworked, stressed out all the time, which leads to unhealthy lifestyle and in the end suffered from critical illness and productivity loss. The survey also found that Malaysian has 56% percentage of employees who slept less than 7 hours per day, 64% spend less than 150 minutes carry out aerobic exercises, and 53% of employees experienced high level of work stressed. All these factors lead to poor employee health and causes major loss of productivity in an organisation.

Problem Analysis

Why overtime? The most obvious reason why employees are working more than actual working hours that stated in contract is too much quantity of work. Majority of employees are working overtime because they are unable to finish their works in regular working hours especially whenever there are product launching events, brainstorming session, overtime is unavoidable. Another reason of working overtime is having overload meeting. Weekly meeting is usual for every department in order to follow up the progress and performance of every employees, but too frequent of meeting will turbo-vacuum up the working hours of employees, end up they need to work overtime to finish their work. Meanwhile, studies have found why employees work overtime and still less productive. This study carried out by Daniel Cook, a professional game designer and he showed that how working a 60 hour per week can lead to ‘productivity deficit’. In his studies, he said that many employees who works 60 hours per weeks thinks that they are more productive and have more efficiency than those who working for 40 hours per weeks. In fact, those who works for 40 hours per week has more steady efficiency throughout 8 weeks of experiment period shown by the graph, meanwhile employees who works for 60 hours per week has declining performance after 4 weeks of continuous overtime working. Scientists also proven that maximum concentration hour of a normal person per day is only 5-6 hours and needed rest in between to maintain high performance level. Therefore those who works for 70 hours does not produce anything more with the extra 15 hours. Long hours have been connected with the employee turnover and absenteeism. Still there are some external factors which causes low productivity of an employee, which are pressure from workplaces, pressure from families that causes the employee placed himself in an stress and anxious condition all the time, making him unable to focus at work and in the end low productivity and efficiency.

Point of Views

Human Resources Department should step in to manage this situation as Human Resources Management refers to policies, practices, and systems that influence employees’ behaviour, behaviour and performance. For having too much work issue, HR manager should sit down with supervisor or manager of each department to talk about employees who have too much work compared to others to review his or her project on hand, and what tasks that causing them to work overtime. Then from this analysis, they are able to reassess activities, prioritise tasks that should be taken first, separate tasks equally to every teammate, or find some extra resources.

Secondly, managers and supervisor need to scrutinize their meeting on their necessity and only invite those who involved to join the meeting, at the same time making sure every person who join the meeting knows their role so that they can save time on separating works and giving tasks again and again. Also, during the meeting employee must take down vital information as a note so that they would not left out something important, hence reduce the turnover rate as well as making sure the project can progress smoothly. The issue of putting more hours on work does not seem to be more productive and clearly show that overtime working is not the only solution to increase productivity.

In my opinion every organisation should implement Flexible Working Agreements (FWA) because flexible working hours can help to increase productivity and efficiency of employee, as well as reduce the bad traffic in bigger cities. Implementation of FWA also will help to retain more female workers as the inclination of resign from female employees provided that they have family commitment and also high commuting to work cost. Moreover, Human Resources manager should play their role in improving their level of satisfaction during working time. First, they can try to discover what stopping the employees’ productivity through an employee survey by asking them if there is any issue faced by them recently, are them understand the vision and mission of the company, as well as how they rate their work-life balance. These questions are all crucial as they can help to know the employee more, and what they can do to improve the productivity of each employee.


In short, long hours spent in office can be drain on employee productivity and morale, therefore affect employee lifestyle and company performance. Based on this study clearly shown that working overtime might be efficient for increasing productivity at first, but overtime regularly may cause some consequences to the employee which is risks to their health and this will affect company performance too. One of the ways organisation can improve employee productivity is by Human Resources manager prove that they take care of the employees, including when they leave the company. It is not easy for any company to implement a good productivity plan. By giving current emphasis on employee engagement and the advent of the employee relationship economy, human resources leaders need to play their roles to create workplace environment and design programs that build highly effective teams armed with the right tools and resources to help them get their most out of their efforts. Knowledge gained from this assignment is that presenteeism thrives in a culture that honours busy is a poor judge of productivity.

Unfortunately, working overtime in Malaysia has been a culture and this equates as commitment to working harder for longer. This inadvertently places more importance on how many hours employee spent rather than what they achieve as a result. In fact, managers that judge their employees based on how much time they spend on office send a signal of more productivity at work, end up creating more jobs to their employees. Companies who give their workers incentive and rewards by what the employees achieved rather than judge them through how many hours they spend in works, are the one who can see much better productivity returns from them, greater job satisfaction and proper work-life balance.

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