Singapore

Experts: Pressure means saying no can be difficult

This article is more than 12 months old

Psychologists, HR experts say firms must ensure workers are protected

Before Singapore Civil Defence Force full-time national serviceman, Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, entered the pump well at Tuas View Fire Station on May 13, he had told his family he was worried.

He could not swim and had felt pressured to do something he did not want to do. But he entered the well anyway and drowned.

Psychologists told The New Paper it was common for people to remain silent at the workplace when told to do something they were against. They and human resources (HR) experts said companies must have measures in place to ensure workers have avenues to report malpractices.

Mr Daniel Koh, a psychologist, said a fear of rejection, an inability to meet expectations and a desire to maintain the status quo are reasons for subordinates to remain quiet.

Mr Koh, 46, said: "Not disappointing or letting the team down is the main consideration for others to like you.

"In abuse cases, the victim is made to feel hopeless and helpless so he has to depend on the aggressor. He is taught that any refusal will lead to pain, which is a form of control."

In abuse cases, the victim is made to feel hopeless and helpless so he has to depend on the aggressor. He is taught that any refusal will lead to pain, which is a form of control. Mr Daniel Koh, a psychologist with 18 years' experience

In 2013, a 29-year-old man had been verbally and physically abused during his three-year internship. He had stayed on as he felt he could learn a lot from his manager, who was later sentenced to a 10-day short detention order.

Psychotherapist Conrad Mark Lim, 27, said victims can be deterred from speaking out to conform with their social group.

He said: "It seems that conformity is key to survival and function within the group, for both the completion of the group's objective and individual social self-esteem needs."

Mr Lim called on organisations to encourage an open-door policy and provide a channel for anonymous feedback.

Mr Paul Heng, founder of professional HR services organisation, NeXT Career Consulting Group, said the HR department is supposed to be the policeman of organisations.

He said: "Once they have conducted investigations and it is revealed a superior is in the wrong, HR needs to be brave enough to stand up to him and say no."

Victims also have the power to resist harassment, said psychologist Philip Ang, 45.

He said: "There are instances where victims refuse to come forward for fear of repercussions in the relationship or being implicated, especially by the law. If we, as observers, come forward to help the victims, they will feel supported and not alone."

MEDICAL & HEALTH