Overworked or No work at all!




(marketingmagazine.com.my) – By:Raymod Khor

In 2013, the Japanese government ruled that the death of a 30-year-old male employee of advertising firm Dentsu Tokyo was due to overworking.

In 2013, copywriter Mita Duran, 24, also died after tweeting ’30 hours of work and still going strong.” Co-workers blamed energy drinks for her death. It was one of many tweets she sent out describing the long hours she worked at ad agency Young & Rubicam in Jakarta. “Tonight, I carry the keys to the office for the eighth day running. I’m still here. I have no life. Someone please take me out for drinks, kicks and giggles.”

Last week, Tadashi Ishii, President of Dentsu Inc, announced his resignation in the wake of the suicide of an employee, Matsuri Takahashi, 24, last year. Matsuri told friends on Twitter of enduring harassment and grueling long hours on the job.

Karoshi is a Japanese term describing death from overwork, often by suicides but also linked to exhaustion and stress. Japan saw compensation claims for Karoshi and illnesses related to overwork rise to a record high of 2,310 cases in 2015.

15th Feb 2016, I joined an international network ad agency as GM.

Prior to that, I had a career spanning 10 years on the client side and I’ve worked with its sister agencies without a problem and never once did I flinch to removed anyone on my account, thinking everyone deserves a chance or heck it, I will do the on the job teaching myself. And 5 years prior to that, I started my career as an AE, brimming with hope, in one of the network’s most stellar agency… Ogilvy.

“We are opposed to management by intimidation. We abhor ruthlessness. We like people with gentle manners. We see no conflict between adherence to high professional standards in our work and human kindness in our dealings with each other,” said David Ogilvy as he foresaw the direction the industry was heading even then.

1st March 2016: The MD at the network agency, my hiring manager, announced her resignation.

22nd April 2016: I walked out with a box in my hands. It was 4pm on a Friday. My hiring manager, the outgoing MD, fired me within 30mins, one week before her own last day.

There wasn’t any show cause, no PiP, no Domestic Inquiry.

“The clients, your team and the business partners don’t like you,” she said.

“Who, When and what I did that I am being dismissed so abruptly?” I asked.

“It’s been decided, Just go.” was her answer.

Epic question from the MD followed suit, “Do you wish to resign or be terminated?”

I chose termination as I was not going to resign to such malicious practice demeaning to a person’s dignity. That day a part of me died. The trusting me died. That I entrust my career, reputation and well being to a leader came crashing down to a box in my hands, head hanging low.

The days following, I had to recount the painful event to friends, family, potential employers and head hunters…LinkedIn replaced Facebook as my favourite social media platform.

Till today, I am jobless… but thank goodness I have an amazing network of friends, a trail of achievements to back my worth (Gold Effie, a couple of mentions here and there…) and I can get by freelancing.

What values are guiding leaders in our industry today? My previous 10 years in the client organisation championed People First, Respect, Transparency and Integrity.

As an industry, do we still care? What values do we profess?

And in doing so, can we protect the talents we attract and make them giants of tomorrow.

Raymond Khor who prides himself as a marketer with a purpose, puts his hand to heart and questions if the ad industry has lost its bearings, its core values and work ethics.


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