Jack Ma Expresses Support For China's '996' Overtime Work Culture

Jack Ma
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group attends the World Economic Forum (Photo: Reuters)

Alibaba founder and Chinese business icon, Jack Ma, has now received a slew of online criticism after expressing his support for China's controversial 12-hour workday culture. The Chinese work practice, called the "996," is gaining popularity in the country's growing tech industry. According to the founder of the country's largest e-commerce firm, there is apparently nothing wrong with practicing a "996" lifestyle.

The "996" work culture is amply named in reference to the working habit of starting at 9 am and ending at 9 pm, six days a week. Managers and executive of large tech startups have apparently been pushing this kind of practice on employees, stating in some cases that only by practicing it would they become successful.

Ma recently posted on a blog post over the weekend that he was in support of the "996" culture and that he sees no problem in it. The business tycoon added that it may be a problem for those who don't actually enjoy their work. Ma's statement immediately prompted criticism from his online followers, with some stating that working such long hours would adversely affect family relationships. Some online users stated that people would likely stop having children if all enterprises will enforce a "996" schedule.

China's state media also recently slammed the "996" culture and criticized companies for advocating such an unfair practice. The state-run newspaper People's Daily even mentioned that the mandatory enforcement of the "996" overtime culture only shows the arrogance of businesses across the nation.

Ma later defended his previous statement claiming that he only wanted to "pay tribute" to employees who put in more time like he did when he first started his company. The Chinese billionaire also stated that he supports anyone who chooses the lifestyle and that only those who put in the hours will reap the rewards of hard work. The 54-year old executive explained that he has never regretted working more than 12 hours a day and that he finds his work very rewarding.

In addition, Ma warned those who were planning to apply to his company that they have to be ready to work 12-hour days. Those who apparently aren't willing to do so shouldn't bother joining as they are not lacking in more willing applicants. The tech industry in China has been known to require employees to render in additional work hours. JD.com founder, Richard Liu, had reportedly called employees unwilling to render overtime "slackers."

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