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Post Jack Ma, Alibaba enters the next era with a nod to work-life balance

Post Jack Ma, Alibaba enters the next era with a nod to work-life balance
Jack Ma Photo Credit: Reuters

Jack Ma, Alibaba Group’s charismatic founder may have moved on, but his ideas continue to influence the iconic China-born ecommerce and technology multinational.

On Tuesday, the Hangzhou headquartered firm released a refreshed version of its six core values for the digital era. The most notable addition to the refreshed values includes an emphasis on employee work-life balance. 

The sixth value is articulated as “Live seriously, work happily -- We want our employees to treat life seriously when they work and enjoy work as one enjoys life.”

The addition of work-life balance may be an outcome of the backlash that Ma faced in April when he said that working 12 hours a day, six days a week was a requirement from employees who wanted to join Alibaba. “To be able to work 996 is a huge bliss. If you want to join Alibaba, you need to be prepared to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why even bother joining?” Ma wrote in his personal blog on microblogging site Weibo.

A few months later, however, Ma said with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), future workers would only be required to work for 12 hours a week. Speaking to Tesla founder Elon Musk at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on August 29, Ma said with the help of technology and AI, people could work just three days a week and four hours a day.

The previous core values that Alibaba lived by for 20 years were customer first, teamwork, embracing change, integrity, passion, and commitment. 

The six new values, with coincided with Alibaba’s 20th anniversary, will help the firm to better manage its workforce, according to a statement.

The remaining five values for the new era are customers, employees and shareholders -- in that order, trust makes everything simple, change is the only constant, today’s best performance is tomorrow’s baseline and ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’. The fifth one is taken straight out of Alibaba’s first job advertisement. “It's still how we want our employees to view themselves as owners of the business. This gives them a sense of purpose and drive,” the statement said.

Jack Ma founded Alibaba in an apartment in Hangzhou in 1999 with 18 members. The company today employees close to 100,000 employees in over 30 business units worldwide. The ecommerce conglomerate will now be run by chief executive officer Daniel Zhang and co-founder and vice-chairman Joseph Tsai.

Read: How Alibaba has approached the Indian market

While it started as an ecommerce platform, the firm currently operates across a diversified portfolio of businesses such as fintech, cloud, entertainment and logistics, apart from ecommerce. The NYSE-listed firm plans to serve two billion customers and create 100 million jobs by 2036.

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