I have lived in South East Asia for more than 13 years, most of which has been in Thailand. And from the first day I worked here, I noticed something completely different about their work ethic.
- Sanook – “Sanook” means to have fun. Nothing in Thailand, including work, is worth doing if it isn’t fun. The atmosphere in any establishment I have worked at is all about having fun. Thais love joking around and teasing each other, in a playful, fun and friendly way. It creates a good bond between team members and makes going into work a genuine pleasure
- Greng jai – “Greng jai” means having consideration for other people’s thoughts and feelings. It means that you don’t just think about yourself and what is best for you, but rather what is best for the team and people around you.
- Kao rop – “Kao rop” has a similar meaning to “Respect”. Huge amounts of respect are given to all employees and rank means little else than a higher salary. Elders are always shown the utmost respect, so even the top managers of a company will still place their hands together and lower their head to show respect to an older cleaning lady mopping the canteen floor.
- Jai gwang – “Jai gwang” means Generosity – Thai people always share the things they have. At lunchtime, everyone brings in their food – usually way more than they can eat themselves and it is placed in the centre of the table for everyone to share. It is this sharing that generates a feeling of togetherness, almost like a family bond that it is at the heart of Thai society.
Such simple things make working in Thailand an absolute pleasure. Thai people often work long hours, 6 days a week and only have 10 days annual holiday a year which they will spend not on luxurious holidays, but with their family. They are happy with what they have and don’t really understand the concept of needing to have a holiday to de-stress. Why would you if every day at work is fun and spent with a group of people who you genuinely respect and care for?
Over the years, this attitude has rubbed off on me. The last time I took a 10 day holiday I found I couldn’t wait to get back to work and see my friends. I love the work that I do, the people that I work with and the sense of satisfaction I feel at the end of the day.
If you genuinely love your work and working environment, then work is not work….it is just a fun part of living.
We in the west have a lot to learn……….