Singaporeans Share Their Encounters With Toxic Bosses
Working life constitutes most Singaporeans’ waking hours if you’re working at least eight hours five days a week. Given how much time we spend working, we’d want the experience to be fruitful.
However, many have experienced toxic workplaces, unprofessional management, and even worse.
‘Quiet quitting’ has also risen as a topic for dealing with such employers as they realise the futility of working harder than they should just to please them.
MS News spoke to various employees who encountered such behaviour, and compiled their stories.
Needing to stay back even though work was complete
You’d think that you can leave the office once your work is done for the day. But this isn’t always true in certain workplaces.
Melissa, 32, shared that they had to “stay late” in the office more often during their appraisal, even though she completes her work on time and does not arrive late.
So her superiors can see her work. Elaborating, she said she works from 8am to 5.30pm, while her bosses tend to come in later, at 9am. As such, they’d leave at 6.30pm or later.
Another person, Steph, said on her first day of work, her colleague and another new person were leaving at 6pm since they had nothing else to do. The boss said, “Wa, half day ah?”
It speaks volumes of the archaic mentality that pervades these workplaces — of not leaving before superiors, even if work is completed for the day.
Inappropriate & racist treatment of employees
Tact and effective communication should be a given at the workplace, but that often isn’t the case.
They range from petulant – one employee shared that her boss threw a bun at her during a scolding – to damaging and racist.
This was the case for Swati, a 27-year-old software engineer. During orientation week at her company, employees handling the programme made racist jokes targeting Indians.
“The orientation leader mocked Indians and used the ‘Indian nodding’ as a joke,” she shared. “We were expected to laugh along.”
Swati noted that other more subtle forms of racism include being non-inclusive in communications. For example, an employee experienced this when during an internal project, the team seemingly randomly switched to Chinese for the rest of the call.
She said that no one, not even the boss, intervened even though she was on camera and not Chinese. “I felt left out because I couldn’t understand the conversation.”
Steph also shared that when a Chinese colleague handling a Japanese skincare client left the company, her employer insisted on handing them over to another fair-skinned employee.
“We never understood why this was necessary as all the work we did was backend,” Steph said.
Another employer reportedly told her colleagues, “Other employers would just chuck your CV aside after they see your name,” implying that their names somehow played a role in getting hired elsewhere or at their workplace.
Toxic bosses overly police employees’ working time
Sadly, some told MS News that their workplace had a toxic or negative culture propagated by employers.
Glorifying OT and “showing face” are just some of the behaviours.
Excessively policing working time was a common running thread, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when companies started to work from home.
- abruptly changing working hours from 9am – 6pm to 9am – 6.30pm and fining anyone who reports to work late S$0.10 a minute
- making the whole company log on to Microsoft Teams meeting with the camera turned on an entire day during ‘Circuit Breaker’
- the employer called for a surprise 9am Zoom meeting and timed employees to see who would attend the meeting and who would be late
- after being made to OT excessively, an employee was charged “lodging fees” on top of having to sleep over in the office to rush “impossible” deadlines
- being asked to keep a logbook of activities to show how long it took them to work, go to the toilet, and have lunch.
Delayed salaries & split-up bonuses
With rising prices across the board, it is natural for employers to want to cut costs wherever possible. However, more often than not, this comes at employees’ expense, especially regarding their salaries.
One reader, John, shared that his salary had been delayed by 3 months.
Another reader, Andrew, noted that his employer went from splitting their bonus into two instalments to dividing it across the entire year.
As such, those who left the company ended up losing the remaining sum of their bonus.
Company culture & support are important factors to consider before joining
It should never be the norm for employees to experience harsh and unfair treatment at the workplace by toxic bosses.
Though it’s disheartening to hear of these accounts, we’re also happy to note that many of the people we spoke to subsequently moved on to better and more respectful workplaces.
However, if there are consistently high turnovers at a workplace, the problem may not be with the work but with the management. After all, you know what they say — people don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses.
So before committing to a new job, make sure you’ve done your homework by reading Glassdoor reviews or speaking to people on LinkedIn. The world has much more to offer — it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All names have been altered or kept obscure to protect the identities of interviewees as requested.
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Featured image adapted from TheSmartLocal.
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