October 6th, 2015

Three cheers to the unsung heroes; When better isn’t always good

Three cheers to the unsung heroes

MANY of us complain that our jobs are stressful. Undoubtedly, every job has its own level of stress.

There are some jobs – for instance information technology – that do not appear stressful on the surface. When the IT executives work diligently in the background and everything works fine, no one bothers nor appreciates the good work they do. These guys and girls have to stay a few steps ahead of the game to ensure that hackers or others do not infiltrate into their organisation’s IT system.

When something goes wrong – for instance the entire organisation’s computer system breaks down all of a sudden – the staff would groan and moan and even feel agitated as they are now off line and cannot do their work, especially if they have to serve customers (for instance at the airport check-in counters).

All sorts of insults and brickbats would be hurled at the IT department for its so-called “incompetence”. Many don’t realise that these executives have been working hard all this while but their services have been taken for granted.

I have personally experienced the chaos and disorder when things don’t go right for these IT executives. I was at a popular supermarket on a Sunday morning with my wife to buy the weekly groceries. I noticed that the queues at the check-out counters were extremely long. Upon enquiry, I was informed that the IT system had malfunctioned. I also happened to see a particular IT executive trying to set the system right. I sympathised with this poor chap as he struggled to make things right. He was surrounded by the other staff who pressured him to resolve the problem speedily.

It took a while before the system was back to normal but many customers could not wait. They simply abandoned their trolley full of groceries and left. Not only did this sudden breakdown affect the supermarket financially but its reputation was also damaged.

I would call these IT personnel “unsung heroes” as they have been making substantive contributions to the organisation and to our lives.

Then there are the pilots who indeed have very stressful jobs. On a day-to-day basis, hardly any recognition is given to them for doing their job well.

Unfortunately they are in the limelight for the wrong reasons, for example when tragedy strikes, and then their past contributions and clean flying record would mean nothing.

So let’s pay tribute to these ordinary people who enrich our lives. Pola Singh Kuala Lumpur The STAR Home News Opinion 5 October 2015

When better isn’t always good

WITH better technology like the Internet and mobile phones, working hours can be longer today as people are on call no matter where they are and at any time.

Unlike those days when mobile phones and the Internet were not available, people could enjoy their holidays uninterrupted.

My family was on holiday in Thailand in May but my son received e-mails and SMSes from his superiors and he had to cancel some of his tours with us because he had to reply to the e-mails.

Before mobile devices were available, people could not be contacted after office hours, on weekends and during public holidays unless they were at home and they could enjoy their meals and holidays with their friends and family without interruption.

People today receive calls from their colleagues, clients and superiors at night, on weekends and even during holidays. I noticed that many people receive phone calls while having their meals. They had to leave their tables to take the calls.

This deprives people from having quality time with their friends and family.

Nowadays, it looks like people are being made to work overtime without additional pay.

Years ago, I attended an interview with my company, I asked the CEO whether the company had five-day or six-days weeks.

After working for a couple of months, the CEO asked me why I asked such an irrelevant question.

I told him that if the company was on a six-day week, I would not have joined them as I wanted to have a less stressful working life.

When the company was on a five-day week and when there was a public holiday on a Friday or Monday, I would have a three day break.

Internet and mobile devices indeed make working much easier but sometimes superiors or clients contact their people indiscriminately after office hours, on public holidays and even on holidays.

The invention of the Internet and mobile devices certainly make connections and doing tasks easier.

It is better to SMS people if the situation is not that urgent so that they can return the call later when it is more convenient for them to do so.

I also receive unnecessary calls on my mobile phone when I was on holiday overseas and this costs me money and unnecessary interruption.

Therefore, we hope that people will use their discretion when they call people after office hours, during weekends and on public holidays. Thomas Foo Subang Jaya The STAR Home News Opinion Letters August 6, 2015