Here’s How To Deal With Bosses Who Always Asked To Stay Back

ByMohd Azad Jasmi

As an observer of the Malaysian corporate landscape, I have noticed a prevailing belief among employers that associates long working hours with high performance and dedication. It is a common misconception that employees who extend their working hours beyond the stipulated time are perceived as hardworking and committed. However, it is essential to challenge this notion and recognize that true performance should be evaluated based on results achieved within the designated working hours.

In Malaysia, the culture of equating long hours with hard work has become deeply ingrained, often leading to employees feeling compelled to extend their working hours to demonstrate their dedication to their roles. While employees need to be committed to their work, the focus should shift toward assessing the actual productivity, efficiency, and quality of work delivered during the allocated working hours.

In this article, I aim to shed light on the importance of measuring performance based on the output and value added within the stipulated working hours. By emphasizing productivity and efficiency over the sheer number of hours worked, employers can foster a healthy work environment that promotes work-life balance and maximizes employee performance. Let us explore the significance of evaluating performance based on what has been accomplished within the official working hours, ultimately benefiting both the employees and the organizations they serve.

In the corporate world, a common misconception prevails that associates long working hours with high performance and dedication. However, it is essential to challenge this notion and recognize that true performance should be evaluated based on results achieved within the stipulated working hours. This article delves into the significance of measuring performance based on productivity, quality of work, and efficiency, rather than solely relying on the number of hours an employee spends at work.

The pitfall of equating long hours with high performance

Many employers fall into the trap of believing that employees who work beyond their scheduled hours are more committed and productive. This misconception can lead to potential burnout and reduced productivity. In reality, employees who consistently work long hours may experience diminished focus, creativity, and overall well-being, resulting in suboptimal outcomes.

Focus on Productivity and Quality: A more accurate way to evaluate an employee’s performance is by assessing their productivity and the quality of work delivered during the designated work hours. Focusing on these aspects allows employers to measure the true value and contributions made by their workforce. High-performing individuals excel at efficiently completing tasks, achieving goals, and adding value to their roles.

The Le Mans 24-Hour Race Analogy: To better understand the importance of respecting working hours, we can draw an analogy from the Le Mans 24-hour race. In this prestigious endurance race, teams must complete the course within the allocated 24 hours. The laps completed beyond the stipulated time do not contribute to the final result. Similarly, employees must strive to accomplish their tasks effectively and efficiently within the designated working hours, ensuring that the extra time spent does not replace actual productivity and quality of work.

Balancing Workload and Well-being: Encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance is vital for their well-being and overall performance. An overemphasis on long working hours can lead to increased stress, fatigue, and diminished job satisfaction. On the other hand, fostering a culture that values productivity and efficiency will create a positive work environment, enhancing motivation and employee engagement.

Implementing Strategies to Improve Performance: To optimize performance, employers can adopt several strategies, including setting clear goals, providing adequate resources, offering skill development opportunities, and recognizing achievements. Empowering employees to take charge of their tasks and ensuring a supportive work environment can lead to a boost in overall performance.

Employers must shift their focus from measuring performance based on the number of hours worked to evaluating productivity, efficiency, and quality of work delivered within the designated working hours. Le Man’s analogy serves as a powerful reminder that exceeding working hours does not necessarily translate to superior performance. By creating a culture that values productivity and work-life balance, employers can foster a workforce that excels in performance, well-being, and overall success.

Deal with your boss like a pro

Dealing with a difficult boss who consistently asks employees to work long hours can be challenging. Here are some suggestions and examples of how to handle such a situation:

  1. Communicate Your Limitations: Example: “I understand the importance of this project, but I have other commitments outside of work that I need to attend to. Is there any way we can prioritize tasks or delegate some responsibilities to ensure we meet the deadline without me having to stay back every day?”
  1. Set Boundaries: Example: “I’m happy to stay back occasionally for urgent tasks, but I need to maintain a work-life balance. Let’s discuss how we can manage workload more effectively during regular working hours to avoid excessive overtime.”
  1. Document Working Hours: Keep track of your working hours and overtime. Share this information with your boss when discussing the workload to highlight the extra time you are already putting in.
  1. Propose Efficient Solutions: Example: “I’ve noticed that we spend a lot of time on manual processes. Implementing automation or new software could streamline our tasks and save time, reducing the need for extended working hours.”
  1. Collaborate with Colleagues: Work with your team members to distribute the workload more evenly. This could reduce the need for individual employees to consistently work late.
  1. Suggest Flexible Work Arrangements: Example: “Would it be possible for me to work on some tasks remotely? This way, I can manage my time more efficiently and still meet deadlines without having to stay back at the office.”
  1. Seek HR or Management Support: If the issue persists, consider talking to Human Resources or higher management about the workload and its impact on work-life balance.
  1. Negotiate Compensatory Time Off: Example: “I’ve worked late several days this week. Can I take some time off next week to compensate for the extra hours I’ve put in?”
  1. Address Specific Issues: If your boss frequently assigns last-minute urgent tasks that require late hours, discuss the importance of planning and how it can prevent such situations.
  1. Consider a Polite Refusal: Example: “I understand the urgency, but I already have commitments tonight. Is it possible to discuss this first thing tomorrow morning?”

You can try to approach these conversations professionally and respectfully. Focus on finding solutions and highlighting the importance of work-life balance for productivity and employee well-being.

Convincing bosses to change their mindset about working long hours can be challenging, but with the right approach, it is possible to make them understand the importance of work-life balance and productivity.

What you should do

  1. Collect Data and Facts: Gather data and research that supports the benefits of work-life balance on employee productivity, health, and overall job satisfaction. Present this information to your boss to highlight the positive impact it can have on the company’s success.
  2. Focus on Productivity: Emphasize that long working hours do not necessarily equate to increased productivity. Discuss how employees can be more productive during regular working hours by using effective time management techniques and focusing on key priorities.
  3. Highlight Employee Well-Being: Stress the importance of employee well-being and mental health. Share stories or examples of other companies that have implemented work-life balance initiatives and witnessed positive results in terms of employee engagement and retention.
  4. Present Case Studies: Show case studies of successful companies that prioritize work-life balance and have seen improvements in employee morale, creativity, and productivity. Use these examples as evidence that a similar approach can be beneficial for your organization.
  5. Propose Pilot Programs: Suggest implementing pilot programs or trials of flexible work arrangements to demonstrate how work-life balance can be achieved without compromising productivity. Use the results from these trials to make a case for permanent changes.
  6. Highlight Legal Obligations: If there are laws or regulations in your country that limit working hours or require employers to provide work-life balance initiatives, remind your boss of these obligations.
  7. Appeal to Company Values: If your company has stated values related to employee well-being or work-life balance, use these as a basis to advocate for change.
  8. Offer Solutions: Present practical solutions that can be implemented to improve work-life balance without sacrificing productivity. This could include flexible work hours, telecommuting options, or task delegation.
  9. Seek Support from Colleagues: Talk to other employees who share your concerns and gather support for the cause. A collective effort can carry more weight when proposing changes to the management.
  10. Stay Professional: Maintain a professional demeanor and approach when discussing the issue with your boss. Avoid being confrontational or emotional, as this may hinder your efforts to convince them.

Remember that change may not happen overnight, and persistence is key. Continue to advocate for work-life balance and productivity, and be prepared to provide evidence and examples that support your case. Patience and a positive attitude can go a long way in making your argument more persuasive.

Suggested scripts to say to your boss

I would like to share some examples of scripts or what to say when trying to convince your bosses about the importance of work-life balance and productivity:

Example 1: Focus on Productivity. “Boss, I’ve been doing some research, and I believe that we can enhance productivity without requiring longer working hours. Many studies show that employees are more efficient and focused when they have a healthy work-life balance. By encouraging a better balance, we can improve employee morale and productivity during regular working hours.”

Example 2: Highlight Employee Well-Being. “I wanted to discuss the well-being of our team members. Over time, working long hours can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. I propose that we prioritize work-life balance initiatives to support our employees’ mental health and overall job satisfaction. A happier and healthier workforce will be more engaged and motivated to perform at their best.”

Example 3: Present Case Studies. “I found some case studies of other companies in our industry that have successfully implemented work-life balance programs. They have seen a positive impact on employee retention, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. I believe we can achieve similar results by providing flexible work arrangements and promoting a healthier work-life balance.”

Example 4: Propose Pilot Programs. “Could we consider running a pilot program for flexible work arrangements? We could start with a small group of employees and track their productivity and job satisfaction during the trial period. The data we gather will provide valuable insights into the benefits of work-life balance and help us make informed decisions for the entire team.”

Example 5: Appeal to Company Values. “Work-life balance aligns with our company’s values of fostering a positive and supportive work environment. By promoting work-life balance, we can demonstrate our commitment to employee well-being and strengthen our company culture. This, in turn, will lead to increased loyalty and productivity from our team.”

Example 6: Offer Solutions. “I’ve been researching different work-life balance initiatives that we can implement. For instance, we could introduce flexible working hours or offer remote work options for specific tasks. These changes can help our team members better manage their personal and professional commitments, ultimately leading to better results and employee satisfaction.”

You can tailor your approach to your boss’s communication style and preferences. Be prepared to provide additional data or examples to support your arguments. Ultimately, the goal is to show how work-life balance can benefit both the employees and the company’s overall performance.


The myth that working longer hours equates to higher performance needs to be dispelled in today’s modern workplace. As enlightened leaders and employees, it is essential to shift our focus from quantity to quality, from sheer hours spent to the efficiency and productivity achieved during regular working hours.

Encouraging work-life balance and prioritizing employee well-being are not signs of weakness or complacency but rather strategic decisions that lead to a more engaged, motivated, and effective workforce. Embracing these principles is a testament to a progressive and forward-thinking organization that values its people as its most valuable asset.

By fostering a culture of work-life balance and productivity, companies can reap the benefits of increased employee retention, improved job satisfaction, enhanced creativity, and higher overall performance. A healthier work environment leads to happier and more fulfilled individuals, leading to higher levels of commitment and dedication to achieving collective goals.

Let us move beyond the old paradigm and empower our teams to thrive, both professionally and personally. Embracing work-life balance is not just a humane approach; it is a strategic imperative for long-term success in today’s competitive landscape.

As we champion the cause of work-life balance, we pave the way for a brighter future, where employees can excel and reach their fullest potential, and organizations can achieve unprecedented heights of success. Let us build workplaces that inspire greatness, where productivity and well-being go hand in hand, and where individuals and businesses alike can thrive in harmony.

Together, let us redefine success, and in doing so, create a work culture that truly embodies peak performance through the harmonious integration of work and life. Only then can we unleash the full potential of our people and unleash the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

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