Survey: 1 in 2 Singapore Employees Are Unhappy at Work

Despite good news on Singapore’s economic and productivity fronts, the Singapore workforce have little to cheer about when it’s time to go to work.

According to the JobsCentral Work Happiness Survey Report 2017, at least one in two employees is unhappy at work. With an average Overall Work Happiness Indicator Score of 46.8%, this marks a record low since the survey begun in 2009.

The latest survey of 1,843 respondents, aged 16 years and above, was conducted between June and July 2017.

Where are the happiest workers?

The happiest workers in Singapore are those in translation and editorial with an average Work Happiness Indicator score of 75.8. This is followed by employees in Public Relations, Marketing, Research and Development, and Legal, whose respondents claim to be comparatively happier than their fellow counterparts.

Those who felt most unhappy at work are from compliance, administrative, management and merchandising / purchasing.

Comparing among industries, employees in the industry of Arts, Entertainment & Recreation are found to be the happiest employees in Singapore with an average Work Happiness Indicator score of 57.0. It is then followed closely behind by employees in the industry of Water Supply, Sewerage, and Waste Management with an average score of 56.2.

Despite being perceived as a monetarily lucrative industry, employees from the financial and insurance services industry were found to be only marginally happy with an average score of 51.3. Employees in the industry of mining and quarrying are found to be the unhappiest with an average score of 38.7. The level of work happiness among private and public sector employees is similar.

Stepping into working life and starting one’s career may just be the happiest period for most workers in Singapore. Employees aged 16-20 years appear to be the happiest with an average happiness indicator score of 59.4.

The score dips below 50 for employees aged 41 – 60, with employees between the ages 51 – 60 being the most unhappy.

What employees value most

Money is the main motivator as respondents indicate a pay raise and salary as most important to them in deciding work happiness. Work-life balance, good relations with colleagues, interesting work and acceptable work demands are also among the most important work attributes.

The least important attribute of work voted by the respondents is the positivity within the societal impact of their work.

What bosses can do to make employees happier

Direct monetary and tangible rewards seem key to a happier workforce, with at least 1 in 3 (34.6%) of respondents citing a pay raise as the top action desired. This is followed by seeing performance-based rewards. In contrast, respondents were least concerned with not sticking strictly to designated working hours, or benefits such as an employee wellness fund or a well-stocked pantry.

Male bosses preferred

The majority of the respondents have no preference towards the gender of their bosses. However, for those who specified a preferred gender for their bosses, most (31.2%) preferred male bosses to females (5.1%).

Yet high wages doesn’t necessarily make you happy

Employees commanding a monthly salary range between S$9,500 to S$9,999 are found to be the happiest with an average score of 57.3. On the other end of the spectrum, employees commanding a monthly salary range between S$9,000 to S$9,499 are found to be the unhappiest lot with a below par average score of 40.8.

“The survey results suggest that the majority of the respondents may perceive that they are being underpaid,” says Sam Ng, Managing Director of CareerBuilder Singapore.

“This can potentially have a huge impact on the engagement level of employees, and lead to a highly unmotivated workforce if left unaddressed. Employers should gather feedback from their staff and together develop an ideal compensation package to boost overall happiness at work.” 

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