Samsung Orders Executives to Give Up Weekends

Semiconductor sales may be in the doldrums, but is six-day work week a solution?

Samsung Orders Executives to Give Up Weekends

Credit: Public domain.

On April 17, the Samsung Group 삼성 그룹 issued a group-wide memorandum directing executives at all affiliates to report to the office at least six days a week, expanding a policy that previously applied only to Samsung Electronics 삼성전자. Samsung said the measure was necessary because the “crisis” felt by Samsung Electronics may expand to other affiliates. Other major chaebol 재벌 groups are expected to follow suit; the SK Group also began holding group-wide executive meetings on alternating Saturdays.

It is true that Samsung Electronics faces challenges - it lost KRW 15t (USD 11b) in 2023 in its semiconductor division alone. But some question the wisdom of calling for longer work hours in response to difficult times. Kyunghyang Shinmun 경향신문 columnist O Chang-min 오창민 wrote: “In an era of work-life balance, a six-day work week is a step backward. Google and Apple don’t extend the work hours of their executives to increase productivity. It wasn’t the five-day work week that made Samsung Electronics mistime cuts in the production of semiconductors and cede ground to domestic and international competitors on high-bandwidth memory chips.”

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