10 millennials share their honest thoughts on Singapore work culture

Work culture in Singapore has been a hot topic lately. Earlier this month, Channel NewsAsia published an article about Singapore companies implementing an honour system for sick leave and revealed that there were no instances of abuse despite how easily one can take advantage of it. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Ever wondered what other fellow millennials thought about issues like leaving work on time and being able to self-medicate at home without needing to grab a medical certificate? What’s the general perception of work culture in Singapore? Leaving work on time can be a rather touchy subject, as evidenced by this Facebook post that caught some attention this week.

Different employers (and employees) have varying ideas of what leaving work on time signifies and represents, and so we asked a group of working millennials for their honest thoughts.

On work culture: What do millennials think about leaving work on time? What about being able to call in sick without having to produce a medical certificate?

F, 23, Project Lead

On leaving work on time: “Employees should expect to leave on time – with the exception of special events, which should be part of working hours if they’re the norm.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “That’s great, but you can’t misuse it.”

LT, 23, Digital Marketer

On leaving work on time: “It’s a privilege – don’t expect it, but appreciate it if it exists anywhere you go!”

On calling in sick without MCs: “It’s great – everyone should have that benefit. Self-care comes before company-care anyway – if employees are always sick, the company doesn’t stand to gain, either, so companies need to learn to take care of their employees.”

S, 24, Corporate Communications

On leaving work on time: “It’s good. It shows a clear work-life balance.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “People might exploit this.”

Cvn, 19, Talent Acquisition/Customer Service

On leaving work on time: “I’d rather not have a fixed time to leave the office. I like having a flexible schedule where I can stay overtime if I really need to work on something or finish things, or leave earlier if I really have nothing to do. I think I just like the freedom of being able to allocate time based on what tasks I have.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “I personally think it’s quite good. A lot of my issues include getting really bad, depressive episodes – I can’t even stomach going to the polyclinic to get a medical certificate because the waiting times are usually really long (I once waited three hours). That time could be used to rest or even do work from home. If I can’t make it to the polyclinic, then I’d need to pay for a private doctor, which is really expensive! Having this system would be really good and I guess there needs to be trust involved – but if the KPIs stay the same, I don’t really think it’s an issue.”

Halsey, 20, Paralegal

On leaving work on time: “This is IMPORTANT. People have lives outside of work and planning is a thing. If you don’t have plans and don’t mind staying [late] then by all means, you don’t have to leave on time. But if you have something scheduled after work, you shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “I think having to take an MC is okay, because people will cheat their way through if they don’t have to get documentation. I feel like you should be given the whole day to take that MC – so if you fail to take it, then it shouldn’t be considered sick leave but no pay or annual leave instead.”

Wlkn, 21, Video Production (Creative)

On leaving work on time: “I think that’s okay. I wouldn’t feel guilty because I’m only there for those hours. But if they’re willing to pay me OT, I’d stick around a little longer.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “You won’t have to waste money on the doctor if you can self-medicate. But it leaves openings for people to take advantage of this because they can just call in sick without having to prove they’re unwell..”

Dnll, 20, Marketing Executive (ELP Participant)

On leaving work on time: “I think it really depends on your work culture. If you’re in a working environment that’s more OTOT / work-from-home friendly kind of place – then leaving on time isn’t exactly an issue. But if you’re in a company that is a little more stricter then obviously staying a little more later than the established leave time is a given.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “I think it’s a double-edged sword. Sure, it’ll be great to call in sick during days when I need to settle with my mental health but obviously it would be taken advantage of. For example, I used to work part-time at a place that let me cancel work 3 hours before my given shift. They didn’t enforce any rules like – “You can only take x amount of MCs” or “You must provide an MC.” So let’s just say I didn’t really work a lot at THAT job.”

A, 23, Enrichment Mentor

On leaving work on time: “At a previous company, there was a very toxic culture where staying late was always equated to being more productive. Some employees literally did nothing on their computers but if they left late they’d be considered hardworking and more committed. In my current line, you’re considered hardworking when you work full shifts without claiming time off the week after. There’s this martyr-type attitude being encouraged where you have to “take one for the team” most of the time. I couldn’t even apply for wedding leave without getting into trouble.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “I have endometriosis and it gets very intolerable at times – but I’ve never been issued an MC for it. I still have to drag my ass to work and it’s horrible and excruciating. To everyone, it just seems like a condition you have to live with. I think companies should allocate a certain number of days for non-MC sick leave.”

P, 27, Librarian

On leaving work on time: “Leaving on time shouldn’t be seen as negative, especially if your work is being done and you’re consistently on track.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “Calling in sick without needing to produce an MC is a good to have system, but Singaporeans sometimes do abuse honour-based systems like this. Companies should limit the number of days their employees can claim these days.”

T, 24, Copywriter

On leaving work on time: “Leaving work on time it should be encouraged but not enforced as some people don’t wanna bring work home.”

On calling in sick without MCs: “An honour-based system is good, but it shouldn’t comprise all the sick days allocated in a contract. For example, maybe five out of 14 days can be honour-based.”

And our winning response off Twitter:


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Sophia Lee

I used to freelance exclusively for Glints - now I'm a content marketing intern working furiously in the backdrop. Talk to me about writing any time! (Or we could have a serious discussion about video games and e-sports... that's cool too.) Find me on Instagram (@pxtrx)!