Sharmini Wainwright is managing director of Michael Page & Page Personnel Hong Kong. With over 13 years’ experience with PageGroup, she oversees specialist recruitment across finance, financial services, sales & marketing, legal and more.
Boss has no boundaries!
I already put up with it during the work week, fielding emails and instant app messages on my personal mobile phone after work hours. If I don't respond, I get chased up with follow up phone calls late into the evening. Sometimes, I just want to switch off and have some down time and it's so hard to even take leave. Now, the final straw is being contacted while on holidays overseas. I'm supposed to be enjoying my vacation with my family but instead I'm getting calls and having to find wi-fi spots to reply to emails etc. How can I enjoy my break when I'm worrying about finding my next Internet coverage and when they will next call? I don't even want to think about my mobile bill when I get back to HK!!
Can there be work-life balance? I don't see other departments in this company having the same issue. Do I have to find a new boss to break free from this vicious cycle?
Sharmini Wainwright - Career Doctor
Posted Wednesday 21st May 2014 02:19:00 AM
Dear Overworked, Hong Kong is well known for its face-paced and intense corporate arena which has left many professionals struggling to keep up, therefore your question is not unusual. Clearly, having to take phone calls during your vacation breaks sounds like your lifestyle is being compromised and therefore, understandably, of concern to you. However, I would like to ask a few questions to further understand the situation. The first question is what the job brief for your role was when it was first presented to you? The reason I ask is that in our experience, job briefs where the client has openly stated upfront that the role requires being available on demand, long hours and at times even contactable during vacation are not uncommon. Has there been a gap between the original job description/brief hence affecting your expectation with the current situation at the workplace is? If so, I would encourage you to raise this matter professionally with your boss to try and understand why this was not openly discussed or raised during your job interview process. The second question relates to the seniority of your role or the role you support. For example, if you are running the finance functions for a region, if you are an EA to a CEO, or if you are processing trades within an investment bank. Clearly the demands of the roles above are critical to the bigger picture and would typically require your response in a timely matter, regardless of what your personal circumstances may be. That said, such roles are also paid a premium to compensate for this personal time and lifestyle sacrifice that the individuals make. The third question is whether you have changed personally and no longer find the intensity a challenge or attractive. It is common for individuals, especially in the earlier stages of their career, to thrive in a work environment where they are called upon to 'go the extra mile'. This might start out as a feasible arrangement schedule-wise due possibly to the minimal commitments that they have. However, as life progresses and other priorities come to prominence front (e.g. Family, other interests etc), some individuals' focuses may shift to spreading their time across various aspects of their life rather than concentrating it on work. In our experience, it is easier to 'change jobs' rather than 'change the job you are in'.