The work culture in most of the Chinese tech firms is a wonder for the rest of the world as employees work tirelessly at their desks through the working week and more. The usual work schedule in Chinese tech firms is known as the ‘996’ schedule, and it implies that employees work from 9 in the morning until 9 at night, 6 days a week. All across the world, that sort of work culture and forced overtime is looked upon as a bit cruel, but the billionaire founder of the online retail giant Alibaba, Jack Ma has stated that it was nothing but a blessing for young workers trying to make it big in one of the most promising industries.
The Chinese tech industry has grown at a breathtaking pace over the last two decades, and just as the growth somewhat tapered off over the recent years, the tech firms have started demanding more hours of overtime from their employees. It is also indicative that most of these tech indicators are now looking to hire more and more, younger professionals. It is believed that it is a move to phase out older employees and have hungrier young workers, who can put in the long hours that the companies demand.
Alibaba also follows the same gruelling work schedule, and during a speech to employees at his company, Ma spoke on the burning issue of work-life balance among Chinese workers. He said that young workers should be able to adhere to such a schedule. He said, “I personally think that being able to work 996 is a huge blessing. Many companies and many people don’t have the opportunity to work 996. If you don’t work 996 when you are young, when can you ever work 996?”
This work culture has caused a lot of intense debate in online forums in the country, and many workers believe that the overtime hours demanded of them is nothing short of excessive. Considering the fact that the industry and the Chinese economy as a whole is in the middle of a slowdown, it is unlikely that the whole issue is going to snowball into a massive crisis for the tech industry. However, it is also important to note, that workers may not be entirely happy about it and that is something that the tech CEOs in Chine will have to address at some point.