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Thread: Would Thailand win the Lazilympics?

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    Senior Member Dodger's Avatar
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    Would Thailand win the Lazilympics?

    I realise with this thread I'm going to generalise, because of course there is bound to be lazy and not lazy people from every country, but from my experience Thais seem to be about as lazy as any race of people I've ever observed.

    I currently employ about 11 full time Thais and indirectly about 15 in total. In my few years of business here I've probably employed over 40+ different Thais, as they are always leaving our employ, its a Thai thing. I get work done by loads of different Thai contractors.

    I am still astounded at how little they want to work, how often their hands come out for a payment, but how I have not really met any that really knuckle down to get a full days work in for a full days pay. I considered it first that perhaps it was a Asian cultural thing? but then I thought of all the Chinese I've ever known and they seem to work really hard and with smarts, usually financially quite successfully. I think of the Myanmar people I have employed or given work to and they to a person work twice as hard, twice as quickly and are twice as thankful, this one mystifies me as they are a neighbouring country, with many of the same beliefs and upbringings.

    I spoke to developers in Singapore and in Kuala Lumpur and they (only a consensus of 3) all said they no longer employ Thai building workers as they are too lazy, preferring Indians or Myanmar peoples.

    I consider my time spent in rural Slovakia, a country very similar in so many ways to rural Thailand, 3rd world, mainly arable. The Slovaks would do a 8, 10, 12 hour working day, come home eat and then go out and work on their own or their neighbours houses or land. Real communal spirit everyone helping everyone. All people multi skilled as they could not afford to pay for electricians, plumbers and the likes. The poor here seem to either pay someone to do it, or go without if they can't afford it.

    My cleaning girls, finish in low season at 2 to 3pm, they always stay with us through low season, when high season hits and they are working until 5pm, then there are always a couple who leave and always the same response 'work too hard, I go willage' They will then go home for a while see their family or just sit in the village until something they think is even easier comes along, which they will then again quit in a few months, 'too hard'.

    'Work too hard' they work at a comfortable pace, never too much to do, never any stress or pressure. Always have time to stop for lunch, stop for something else to eat. That's a side point, they'd also win the Eatinlympics and Sleepinlympics as well!!!

    What made me think of this today was we indirectly employ 4 full time maids looking after and living in, 5 star villas. The owners only come for about 2 months in any one year and spread throughout the year. So 10 months living alone in huge villas with cinema rooms, gyms, infinity pools, latest humongous flat screen hd TV's. Above average wages, no expenses apart from own food. They could even get another part time job, do any of them? nope not a one.

    Now one of them tells me she has been offered the opportunity to go live with a 76 year old farang (no relationship, just as a carer/cleaner/pal), he cannot speak any English, he will pay her about what she is earning now. So good job prospect? chance of advancement? better than the 5 star villa she lives in now? nope the appeal is the house is smaller, so less cleaning to do but same same money nah!!!!

    In all my time here I still cannot fathom why they are like this? surely with the Asean borders opening in 2015 (is it 2015?) we will get a flood of Myanmars, Laos, Cambodians, all willing to give a full days work, all or well maybe most (Myanmars not to clever with the Engrish) with better command of the English language, will it slap a bit of life into them? get them off their backsides and knuckle down? I don't think so!!!

    Look at the lifestyle of the first Thais most of us come into contact with, BG's. At first I thought wow they work hard, what a hard life. Of course some aspects are a bit harsh, having to sleep with someone you may not find attractive or like, just because your rent is due. Working quite often 12 hours shifts until silly o'clock. But when you really look at it, the vast majority of the time is spent sitting down, chatting with their fellow workers, eating, bit of texting, playing bar games and chatting or being chatted up, not really that hard work? an average girl can earn well over average wages for sitting in a bar and being bought drinks!! (okay I do accept I've glossed over the seedier parts of their job, but I'm making a point)

    So why are they like this? is there something I've missed in their upbringing or culture? Am I totally wrong and just seem to not have met any of the majority of real hard working ones?
    Custard should be a colour...cos I could then paint over the mess I've just made!!!

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Ao works really hard here....last 2 weeks she clocked about 50+ hours a week and she works her ass off at her jobs, her bosses at the restaurant love her and her cleaning clients refer her to all their friends
    BUT....she acts like it is the end of the World when she works and that she must be the only one that works so hard.
    She literally does not acknowldge my alarm goes off at 4:30am every day and i am working also.

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    Senior Member Snakebite911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    Ao works really hard here....last 2 weeks she clocked about 50+ hours a week and she works her ass off at her jobs, her bosses at the restaurant love her and her cleaning clients refer her to all their friends
    BUT....she acts like it is the end of the World when she works and that she must be the only one that works so hard.
    She literally does not acknowldge my alarm goes off at 4:30am every day and i am working also.
    Ofcourse not, you are just sitting on your ass, playing with a computer and talking on the phone, that is not work.
    Evilbaz likes this.

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snakebite911 View Post
    Ofcourse not, you are just sitting on your ass, playing with a computer and talking on the phone, that is not work.
    ha
    funny enough, that is exactly what she says!! 555

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    Here's my first guess:

    They have an innate superiority complex ( my ex definitely did ) that comes from being so far ahead of their immediate neighbours ( Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar ) and have always been able to draw cheap labour from those countries as well so hard work for not much money tends to get done by someone else.

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    Senior Member tnlawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    Ao works really hard here....last 2 weeks she clocked about 50+ hours a week and she works her ass off at her jobs, her bosses at the restaurant love her and her cleaning clients refer her to all their friends
    BUT....she acts like it is the end of the World when she works and that she must be the only one that works so hard.
    She literally does not acknowldge my alarm goes off at 4:30am every day and i am working also.
    Joy is the same way. Busts her butt at the restaurant and does a great job of taking care of the kids and the things at home, but at times acts like she's the only one. I pull my own weight and then some. Don't really expect or want any atta-boys for it, but drives me nuts to hear her go on and on about all the things she does. Maybe they need the atta-girls.

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    what Dodger said is exactly what i had seen when i lived at Wet Willy's
    those girls had a plum job, i'd say 70% of their time was laying about but if they got the tad bit busy, they would freak out
    Last edited by dawsey; 11th February 2014 at 01:49. Reason: quote removed.

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    do you even need to ask the question ? 555

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    Senior Member NOM1S's Avatar
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    I can't call my GF totally lazy, but if she has nothing to get up for she will happily sleep and lay in bed all day sleeping or watching Thai TV. But apart from that she works really hard. She's just about to start a new job which will be 10 hour nightshifts, which I thought was great.. then she goes and gets ANOTHER job working in a jewellery shop for half the day so will be doing around 15 hours work a day. Never really moans about it either.. always me moaning i've worked half the hours and getting paid 4x as much as her! 55

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    Senior Member WarProfiteer's Avatar
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    My she-wok could be a definite contender in the sleepylympics... 12 hours straight is no problem for her! I only complain because I am lucky to get 7 hours under entirely perfect conditions. It's jealousy.

    I agree with Bernie on this one in many ways... you cant say "all", but you can talk in terms of observed general tendencies. Even Taky talks about it often... in her fellow students, as well as the hospitals now that she is doing the on-the-job-training part of her course. She stands out because she puts in an honest work day. That said, she has particular areas (specifically, numbers) that she immediately chalks up to "too hard" and prefers to have nothing to do with. She has constant stories though of friends who skipped multiple classes, then ask her to copy her homework... or friends who just go to the village for a week, then come back & walk right into a test & get angry/upset when there's questions on there that they dont know about... or gals who skip their shifts at the hospital to go drink with their bf and are surprised when they show up the next day & the doctor yak-yak's them.

    Jim from CA2 might have a good, informed opinion on this as well. He seemed to think his Khmer gals worked ok, but needed to be monitored and directed often. That said, he seems to have fairly low turnover.

    Everyone I've talked to agrees (including my gf) that any one Burmese is worth 2 or 3 Thais on a job. When she was working at 7-11, there was a Burmese gal there that was never late, never asked for breaks and was completely grateful just to have a job. Whole different mindset.

    When Taky once asked me about starting a business in Thailand, an idea which I'd dismissed long ago, she did immediately say "You have to find someone who knows Burma people... Thai people dont really want to work, just want to have a job and some money... you need only Burma people who can speak Thai to work for you".

    She does an awesome job at taking care of me, but it did cross my mind "Hmmm... maybe I outta look into getting a Burmese gf!"
    Last edited by WarProfiteer; 11th February 2014 at 12:32.

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    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Theres also no shame in slacking off.. This from frontline sales staff in an international airport.



    I would say even further its a lack of ethics, taking a salary for a job but not upholding your side of the deal. Not even caring about the pretense of working. Simply if I can do nothing and sleep, while asking for a salary to do so, I will.
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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarProfiteer View Post
    My she-wok could be a definite contender in the sleepylympics... 12 hours straight is no problem for her! I only complain because I am lucky to get 7 hours under entirely perfect conditions. It's jealousy.

    I agree with Bernie on this one in many ways... you cant say "all", but you can talk in terms of observed general tendencies. Even Taky talks about it often... in her fellow students, as well as the hospitals now that she is doing the on-the-job-training part of her course. She stands out because she puts in an honest work day. That said, she has particular areas (specifically, numbers) that she immediately chalks up to "too hard" and prefers to have nothing to do with. She has constant stories though of friends who skipped multiple classes, then ask her to copy her homework... or friends who just go to the village for a week, then come back & walk right into a test & get angry/upset when there's questions on there that they dont know about... or gals who skip their shifts at the hospital to go drink with their bf and are surprised when they show up the next day & the doctor yak-yak's them.

    Jim from CA2 might have a good, informed opinion on this as well. He seemed to think his Khmer gals worked ok, but needed to be monitored and directed often. That said, he seems to have fairly low turnover.

    Everyone I've talked to agrees (including my gf) that any one Burmese is worth 2 or 3 Thais on a job. When she was working at 7-11, there was a Burmese gal there that was never late, never asked for breaks and was completely grateful just to have a job. Whole different mindset.

    When Taky once asked me about starting a business in Thailand, an idea which I'd dismissed long ago, she did immediately say "You have to find someone who knows Burma people... Thai people dont really want to work, just want to have a job and some money... you need only Burma people who can speak Thai to work for you".

    She does an awesome job at taking care of me, but it did cross my mind "Hmmm... maybe I outta look into getting a Burmese gf!"
    funny enough that you mention numbers
    Ao acts as manager of the restaurant some nights and co-manager when the other senior girl in working too
    this is not some small walk in restaurant, it seats about 60 people, it is a proper restaurant in a major tourist area. it is pretty impressive, to be honest
    but she refuses to handle the cash responsibilities.....she will have one of the girls below her do it
    no matter how much i tell her it is good for advancement in other jobs, she is just too afraid to touch it

    but i will say, thinking about. all Ao's brothers and sister work hard, are good workers and valued by their companies
    her one brother is basically the right hand man of the guy who own the door business
    even her mom, is the go to lady in the neighborhood if neighbors need some job done, like babysitting, elderly care, arranging small fix-it jobs

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LivinLOS View Post
    Theres also no shame in slacking off.. This from frontline sales staff in an international airport.



    I would say even further its a lack of ethics, taking a salary for a job but not upholding your side of the deal. Not even caring about the pretense of working. Simply if I can do nothing and sleep, while asking for a salary to do so, I will.
    but could it also be due to demographics and how they were raised?
    i think about all the village girls who i knew in Patong at Wet Willy's and other places i frequented that were 100% what Dodger described, to a tee
    but then i think of all the Thai's we know now in Vancouver, from middle class families. most come from families with decent businesses their families built on their own, so they were exposed to proper work ethic
    and all these kids are hard workers. hell, we went to the mall food court a couple months ago and one of Ao's co-workers was working there also! she had no idea the girl worked elsewhere
    now, the increased compensation could be a motivating factor, but they really are good, hard workers....all of them
    all these kids
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    Senior Member Dodger's Avatar
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    That is an absolute classic picture from Sef, 5555555!!!

    I'm not knocking the Thais for this, it just interests me why they appear to be so different from their immediate neighbours. Of course I do know some who appear hardworking, but I was just generalising. I had a similar conversation with Robert when he was managing the Manathai Hotel. This was before I ever had many employees or very much firsthand experience of working with them. He said he had tried absolutely every different ploy he could dream up to get them to work well and stay for any period of time and nothing worked 100%. Then of course you get one who stays with you for years just to blow out your conclusions.

    I've tried paying them more than the going rate, so perhaps that will stop them leaving, nope. I've tried every nice way an employer can be, time off paid, cover for their trips to the village, assistance with their journey's, nights out on the boss or gifts of drink etc for their parties - all zip difference.

    I thought I'd got it sussed, an extra bonus each month paid on the third month, this bonus equivalent to half a month's wage. My thinking was start it in November, they do not collect unless still with us end of Feb, which gets us over the peak season, then again end of April, which gets us over the high season. Last year my best girl left 2 days before the bonus was due, 'to go back home, want to rest'. When I tried to talk her into staying nope she was going home, why? just a blank stare with nothing going on behind the eyes!! I even said surely you will wait 2 more days for your bonus?, nope go home now.

    I wondered if it was because there is an abundance of work on Phuket, they can always get another job? and they simply do not seem to like working, no real pride in what they tend to do? (again generalisation, as I know a marine carpenter here second to none, best craftsman I've ever known)

    Paul could be right in that it is a trait of the lower class than middle or upper? I cannot really comment with much experience of employing them and only know a few to compare.
    Custard should be a colour...cos I could then paint over the mess I've just made!!!

  15. #15
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dodger View Post
    I've tried paying them more than the going rate, so perhaps that will stop them leaving, nope. I've tried every nice way an employer can be, time off paid, cover for their trips to the village, assistance with their journey's, nights out on the boss or gifts of drink etc for their parties - all zip difference.
    Do what Thais do.. Under pay over employ.. Have loads of them with a high turnover and treat them badly and get treated badly in return.. Sounds so shitty but over time you start to understand why they employ an army of numpties and distribute responsibility so thinly.

    A well known Harley dealer + powdercoater up here.. Thai employee for almost 10 years.. Given all the responsibility to progress and be a general manager.. Given a huge salary, huge by any measure even western.. Simply upped and walked off the job no notice, no warning, no discussion, no talk to improve or ask or debate.. Simply OK boss I go now, after 10 years of history.

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    Senior Member Dodger's Avatar
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    Tried that already, the over employ method, didn't work for me, cos they get used to doing even less. Then if one leaves and you do not or cannot find someone to immediately employ, one of the others leaves as 'too much' ,meant they might have to work a full day.

    I have noticed the Thai method of treating them like crap, not paying for work done up to the date of leaving, seems to work to some extent, but it does not sit easy with me, but my Thai manager is quite a bit firmer than me in many ways.

    I was also thinking today loosely linked to this situation, it is one of the aspects that is harder when trying to run a business here compared to back home.

    1. You are forever training.

    2. Staff expect to be promoted on longevity rather than ability or attitude.

    3. Quite hard to get staff in the first place, not many if any employment agencies or classified paper work sections for Thai staff.

    4. Even harder to get Farang qualified staff as then your hit with work permit issues, v capital adequacy, numbers of legitimate Thai staff and the like.

    Not a moan in anyway, just facts, as you know I like what I do here, love the daily challenges, even after doing it for 6 years now.
    Custard should be a colour...cos I could then paint over the mess I've just made!!!

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    Senior Member NeedHoliday's Avatar
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    I see similar behaviour in Singapore (to some extent), though I think it's a different mindset. In Singapore all the tedious, heavy labour and/or unwanted jobs go to the Bangladeshis - construction, cleaning, etc. They work long hours, obviously don't get paid much - but from what I've heard are just happy to have a job so they can send money back home.

    Then the local Singaporeans will bitch and moan about foreign workers "taking their jobs" etc, but will soon shut up when pointed out that locals aren't willing to do those jobs in the first place. So for local Singaporeans, they will work very long hours doing average jobs for average pay - but its the type of work they don't like, not the willingness to do it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member kris-one's Avatar
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    ^ Exactly the same as the UK




  19. #19
    Senior Member slampay's Avatar
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    Nothing worse than a starfish?
    LivinLOS, Stillearly and Yes like this.

  20. #20
    Senior Member sundancekid's Avatar
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    An interesting topic... that Im also dumbfounded about.

    As an example, if I were able to find technically adept Thai programmers with even a modest proficiency in English and average work ethics, Id employ them on the spot. I have more than enough work to distribute around, and way above average Thai pay. But my experience so far --- as well as (admittedly) anecdotal evidence --- not something even worth bothering with.

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