Let’s be honest with ourselves:
When it comes to overworking to the point where they feel burnt out, or having struggles maintaining a good and healthy work-life balance, Singaporeans are not the best examples to look for.
I mean, just look at the peak hour trains and buses where employees with bruised under-eyes are catching up on their much-needed sleep, or the students who are dozing off whilst standing up during assembly because they were busy rushing the stack of practice examination papers the night before.
An Overworked Island-City State
It should come as no surprise that Singapore came in second place in terms of being one of the most overworked cities in the world on the Kisi’s Global Work-Life Balance Index.
Whoops, not really the type of achievement you want to have.
In fact, ever since the start of the pandemic, people have reportedly been working longer hours despite being given the luxury to work-from-home.
In the survey conducted in Indeed’s Future of Work research study, 51% of Singaporean employees stated that they have been overworking since COVID-19 struck.
Worst still, more than half also said that they work more than the ascribed 44 hours as per the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) regulations.
It crops up from a multitude of factors:
Some express that the lack of a proper working environment like an office cubicle makes it difficult to separate work from life.
Perhaps with the increasing dependency on the internet, the subconscious need for efficiency and immediate responses have started stirring, which leads to a vicious cycle of constantly answering to their bosses’ beck and call at the notification of an ominous e-mail pop-up at the lower side bar.
There is also the lack of comradery and collaboration that can be found in a normal workplace, and our own homes are filled with distractions that can affect general productivity, which leads to longer hours.
Others might have been able to adjust to the remoteness and the freedom that working-from-home has given them—like not having to dress formally or wake up earlier to travel—but that isn’t strictly true all across the board.
Responses to a Four-Day Work Week
Regardless of the current working conditions, many have voiced their desire to work fewer hours.
Statistically speaking, 6 out of 10 respondents stated that the impetus behind wanting lesser hours is so that they have more time to spend it on their family.
Moreover, the survey revealed another interesting and overwhelming feedback:
Out of 1,000 respondents, 88% supported a four-day work week with the same pay.
Add me to those numbers too, thanks.
63% of the respondents have also said that they are considering working less this year.
In reality, 47% of the respondents would continue at the same job but for fewer hours, if their own income was not an issue.
On the Flip Side: Human Resource Departments
Alas, unlike the European continent that is more open to the idea of lesser working hours, not many Singaporean companies will be offering this choice, even if the pay was reduced according to lessened hours.
In fact, if you’re interested in why your boss will never agree to a 4-Day work week, you can watch this video here:
The Senior of Marketing at SEA Indeed and India, Nishita Lalvani remarked that the rigidity is probably the result of an “organisational culture that is conservative and has low trust”.
Although Singapore has been forced to take on more unconventional and unorthodox means of ensuring the metaphorical gears of business continue to spin, management leaders are still reluctant, or are not ready, to consider the prospect of more flexible work hours and what that might represent.
However, given the overwhelming response that their research has yielded, maybe it is high time for local employees to start rethinking their policies, if only to placate and ensure the loyalties of their workers.
Expectations for 2022
Besides the findings above, the research report highlighted that the Singaporean workforce feels more optimism for the job market in the year ahead.
More than half of the respondents expect that the number of job opportunities will rise this year due to the gradual relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, though only 37% felt confident that 2022 will be a positive year for the economy.
The majority that feels more hesitant to make any predictions aren’t exactly wrong; the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on longer than any of us could have ever imagined and changed our lives in more ways than one.
Additionally, government funding to cushion the blows that the local economy is taking from the decrease in commerce and trade is slowly receding and drying up, which means that whatever lies ahead is up to the business owners—especially for Small & Medium Enterprises—to confront on their own.
Nonetheless, the high expectations for an economic recovery stem from the increased resilience that Singapore has against the recent Omicron variant wave due to the high vaccination rates now.
More than 88% of the eligible Singapore population has finished their full vaccine regimen, with those that haven’t, being pressured to get the vaccines at the cost of losing their jobs, whilst 56% of the population has already received their booster shots.
Lastly, on the list of discoveries that the survey has found, 75% of the employees aged between 18 and 34 hope that their employers will take a stand on important issues that are taking place in the country.
In terms of priorities, most employees have placed their families first, followed by physical health and recreation time for themselves.
Employees are also seeking better work-life balance with increased flexibility, better financial compensation, and a more relaxing workplace as the top three benefits in 2022.
2022 will certainly be projected as a year of examination and introspection with regards to work-life balance conditions, as we climb out of our pandemic-fearing shells at a sluggish pace.
And only time will tell which company is willing to make a change in that direction first.
Featured Image: joyfull / Shutterstock.com