5 Epic Facts About The Work Culture In Malaysia

Learn all you need to know about Work Culture in Malaysia in this blog!

If you’re looking to broaden your horizons and learn about a new culture, there’s no better place to start than the work culture in Malaysia. Not only is it a beautiful country with delicious food and friendly people, but it also has a unique and vibrant work culture worth exploring. Let’s go over that and some useful Malay expressions in today’s post!

Learning about the work culture in Malaysia can open up new doors for you, whether you’re planning to work there in the future or want to learn about their business practices. With its diverse population and booming economy, this Asian country offers plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. So since you landed in this post, perhaps you’re asking yourself, “why should I take the time to learn about the work culture in Malaysia?” Well, allow us to answer that for you!

If you plan to work and immigrate, understanding Malaysia’s local customs and etiquette can help you easily navigate the business world. Whether learning how to greet someone properly or understanding the hierarchy in the workplace, these cultural nuances can make a big difference in how others perceive you.

Additionally, learning about the work culture in Malaysia can help you build stronger relationships with colleagues and clients. By showing that you respect and understand their culture, you’ll be able to establish trust and rapport more quickly. And who knows? You might even learn a thing or two that you can apply in your work back home.


Work Culture In Malaysia

Fact #1: Work Is Like Family

Generally, the most senior person in the room is given the highest respect, and those in higher positions often make decisions. It’s common for businesses to have a hierarchical structure, with clear lines of authority and a chain of command that should be followed. Titles and job roles are also essential, and people are expected to address others by their titles rather than their first names. Understanding this hierarchy and respecting those in higher positions is critical to building successful relationships in Malaysian business settings.

Fact #2: Your Colleagues Want To Save Face

When it comes to life and work, Malaysians face the trouble of saving face (the public image or reputation of an individual or organization). Most people and businesses in the country go to great lengths to maintain their relationships and avoid embarrassment. However, this can lead to great trouble in the workplace. For example, you may experience employees displaying passive-aggressive behavior if they don’t like you. Of course, they’ll never say it outright, but they’ll make sure you feel they’re not happy with you!

It might be hard for outsiders to make small talk, give direct feedback or criticism, or even go to meetings because of this, but take heart. There are ways to get people to like you, especially if you’re a foreigner who took the time to learn the country’s official language!

Work culture in Malaysia is super multicultural - there's no shortage of interesting people to meet!

Fact #3: Cultures Mix In The Workplace

Malaysia’s multicultural nature makes it one of the more defining features of the workforce. After all, Malaysia is composed of people of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Arabic, and indigenous descent, which makes for a very colorful workplace indeed. This practice creates a unique blend of customs and traditions that is reflected in the work culture all around the country.

Fact #4: Providing Accommodations For Multiple Cultures

For example, Muslim Malay employees may observe prayer times during working hours. Likewise, Malay Chinese employees take time off for the Chinese New Year. The same thing is extended to Malay Indian employees who may go out to celebrate Diwali. Most companies also give provisions for people practicing certain faiths. For example, during Ramadan, Muslim employees can adjust their work hours in the companies they represent to focus on fasting and prayer.

Despite the diversity of customs and practices, you may see a sense of unity in Malaysia that you may have yet to feel in other countries. This is because most Malaysians speak a common language, which can bridge cultural and linguistic divides.

Work culture in Malaysia is rapidly modernizing!

Fact #5: Malaysian Companies Are Modernizing

The Malaysian economy has become more integrated with the globe at large. As such, government and private sector employees needed to evolve to keep up with the demands of modern business culture. As a result, companies in Malaysia support more initiatives on innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity while maintaining many of the traditional values they have followed for a long time.

A key driver of this change is Malaysia’s focus on becoming a more knowledge-based economy. In addition, the Malaysian government has taken strides to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, which includes tax incentives for startups and R&D grants for businesses. This has created a thriving ecosystem of companies looking to start something new in Malaysia.

The business culture is also becoming increasingly digital. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing online presence, businesses have started using digital tools and platforms, such as cloud-based software, project management tools, and virtual collaboration platforms, to complement their efficiency and productivity.

As it stands, Malaysia is currently undergoing a period of significant economic change. As a result, from the clients to the home office, Malaysians are now moving forward with a renewed sense of innovation and collaboration while maintaining a work culture that’s truly Malaysian.


Expressions For The Workplace In Malay

Before we wrap this up, we’d like to show you some significant expressions that you may find helpful if you choose to do business in Malaysia!

Are you looking for a job? Adakah kamu mencari pekerjaan?
I’m looking for a job. Saya sedang mencari pekerjaan baru.
What is the job description? Apakah keterangan untuk perkerjaan ini?
Is there a job vacancy? Adakah terdapat jawatan kosong di sini?
Can you submit it before working hours? Bolehkah anda menghantar sebelum waktu bekerja?
Please don’t share my details. Tolong jangan kongsi maklumat peribadi saya.
What time is lunch break? Pukul berapa rehat makan tengah hari?
Where are we going for a lunch break? Di manakah kita pergi untuk rehat makan tengah hari?
Does the company have a dress code? Adakah syarikat itu mempunyai kod pakaian?
Please send me an email. Sila hantarkan e-mel kepada saya.
Who is the point person for this? Siapakah orang penting untuk ini?
When can I expect your submission? Bilakah saya boleh mengharapkan anda submission?
I have an office in Kuala Lumpur. Saya mempunyai pejabat di Kuala Lumpur.
Please give me one hour. Tolong beri saya satu jam.
It’s the end of the day. Ia adalah penghujung hari.
It’s time to go. Sudah tiba masanya untuk pergi.
Let’s eat. Mari pergi makan.
I own a business. Saya memiliki perniagaan.
Do you own a business? Adakah anda memiliki perniagaan?
I have business in Malaysia. Saya mempunyai perniagaan di Malaysia.
How many more hours? Berapa jam lagi?
I like doing business in this country. Saya suka berniaga di negara ini.
I like doing business in Malaysia. Saya suka berniaga di Malaysia.
I wish we had longer breaks. Saya harap kami berehat lebih lama.
Does the company have parental leave? Adakah syarikat itu mempunyai parental leave?
Does the company provide maternity leave? Adakah syarikat itu mempunyai maternity leave?


Learn Malay With Ling App

Learn Malay with Ling App

The key concept is the same whenever you do business with Malaysia or other countries: it’s all about bridging connections. And what better way to do business with a foreign country than by speaking the same language?

That’s where the Ling app can help! Ling is a powerful platform for learning the Malay language and over 60+ more! It’s the best resource to learn a new language, whether meeting someone from across the world, doing business with a foreign culture or just enhancing your skills. If you’d like to learn a new language today, download the Ling app now for your Android or iPhone.

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