Last week, the death of an auditor employee shocked the nation after his friend, Adam Chan, took to Facebook to unravel the reason for the death was due to overwork. Wearied after a long day and night, the employee pulled himself off the office at 2am to head home but he was met with an accident where he took his last breath.
Chan couldn’t wrap his head around on why his late friend decided to stay in the office despite wanting to go back home early but Chan learned from a colleague of the victim that such a habit had always persisted in the auditing industry.
“It’s the culture in Audit department that no one should leave the office before work is completed and before your senior (from the highest hierarchy to the lowest) leave.
“Nobody cares if you are tired, have someone waiting for you at home or any excuses that could delay the work done or affect the overall audit team performance and image,” Chan wrote based on the inside source.
Chan had clarified that he wasn’t in the auditing line but if the purported culture was true, he wished the untimely passing of his friend could evoke a push for a change. He urged netizens to share the post so that more people would be made aware of the unhealthy work culture in auditing.
Since then, the post had gone viral with over 5,700 shares.
Saddened by the death as well, another friend of the victim, Hoo Xinyi, also took to Facebook to share about the destructive work culture in auditing firms, the Big Four which generally refers to companies like KPMG, Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Hoo said she was an intern in one of the companies four years ago and she was forced to stay at work for long hours into the night just because her manager or senior had yet to finish their part.
“I remember sitting in a corner with another intern at the client’s office at 1am, discussing about excuses to get out of work because we couldn’t do anything without the documents required.
“I remember asking my manager if I could leave work early because I had to attend my friend’s father’s wake but my manager told me to finish my work first.
“I remember coming up with some urgent excuse to leave work so that I could go celebrate my best friend’s birthday,” she recounted.
Hoo revealed that she used to work until 2am in the morning and reported back to work at 8am on a daily basis. She said her seniors also complained about how much they wanted to go home but they were all afraid to ask the managers’ permission to leave which could result in more workload given. Thus, they were all forced to wait for the managers to be done.
“I remember getting gastritis from eating at irregular times.
“I remember feeling guilty every time after my seniors got lectured by the audit partners or manager due to mistakes and I couldn’t do anything to help them as my skills as an intern was limited.
“I remember being the “bad” team member in the team, always asking if I could go home early so I wasn’t surprised when I got a bad appraisal from my manager.
“I remember working from home after working hours to meet a tight deadline.
“I remember requesting to end my internship period early because I couldn’t take it anymore.”
The account and finance graduate said it was exactly that experience that got her out from the auditing line forever. In the brief 3-month internship, she had had the most severe eyebags of her life. She said auditors don’t get extra hours pay for every hour they stay behind and even their effort wouldn’t be appreciated by the management and the company.
“I am writing this because I am not just sad but very angry with the death of my friend. I am writing this in honor of my friend who passed away due to being overworked,” Hoo wrote as she concluded, adding that she wished to change the destructive working culture in all corporate settings, not just in auditing lines.