IAA Malaysia forum series spotlights work-life balance

Picture: The Executive Committee of the International Advertising Association Malaysia, panelists and moderator of the forum series on work-life balance held on November 28, 2019.

Work-life balance, a long festering issue in Malaysia and around the world, was thrust into the spotlight by the International Advertising Association Malaysia (IAA) during its Forum Series held recently at the Royal Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur.  

“IAA Malaysia’s purpose is to be the compass for the marketing communications industry,” said President of IAA Malaysia, John D Chacko. “One of the ways we do this is by providing the platform to create dialogue and conversation through our Debate and Forum Series, bringing to fore themes and topics that resonate with the climate in the industry.” 

Group Chief Executive Officer of Star Media Group, Andreas Vogiatzakis; Chief Strategy Officer of Dentsu Aegis Network, Dr. Milan Agnihotri; Consultant Clinical Psychologist of ReGen Rehab Hospital, Dr. Paul K Jambunathan; Managing Consultant of MYHRC Services, Deepa George and Associate Principal of Corporate Communications of Digi, Audra Ooi were part of the panel moderated by General Manager and Host of the Health and Living Segment on BFM 89.9, Meera Sivasothy. 

Addressing the issue of work-life balance and its impact on the physical and mental state of Malaysians, the forum discussed ways to overcome the lack of balance while still managing expectations. To put the subject matter into a proper narrative, IAA Malaysia gathered panelists from relevant fields. 

To set the forum in motion, Meera framed the theme, declaring that instead of work-life balance, the more appropriate discourse is work-life integration. 

Kicking off the conversation, Andreas explained that every situation is different and companies need to create unique solutions for their employees based on the nature of the business. “Put the ship right, then the work-life balance will rightly fall into place and or can be made to happen,” he said. On top of that, he also added that Malaysian workplace environments have matured and is better than it used to be. 

According to Dr Milan, the industry is experiencing a seismic shift as most projects are run based on a remuneration model, increasing the pressure for completion. “Everything is controlled by the bottom line; there is a need to understand this, and here’s where attitude comes into play,” he said. 

Similarly, Deepa added that it is important for work ethic principles to filter down and employees should be incentivised to optimise their work time and learn that the key is to work smart rather than just work hard.   

Providing a medical perspective, Dr Paul highlighted, “People keep over-rationalising issues, all of us have a choice and when we arrive at this choice junction, we should consider all options and how to approach what that matter in life,” he said. 

Audra on the other hand, advocated for building work around life instead of the other way around. According to her, work culture must evolve in line with young talent’s expectations. “There’s no necessity for people to physically be in the office from 9 to 5, as long as the work gets done and KPIs are met, that should suffice,” she said. 

The diverse opinions and views were received with numerous questions and comments from the floor occupied by almost 100 professionals from the industry. 

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