Study Shows That S’pore Workers Aren’t Productive, Spending Only 60% of Their Time Doing Key Duties


Last Updated on 2020-12-02 , 6:30 pm

In a surprising report, a study has stated that Singaporeans were the least productive compared to 11 other countries in a recent poll.

If you’re Singaporean, you must be thinking “This is all rubbish. I work hard what!”

The study was conducted by enterprise software firm Unit4. Based on their findings, Singaporeans only spent 60% of their time doing key tasks that were directly related to their job productivity.

Before we actually start jumping up and down in indignation, let’s look at what Unit4 actually defines as ‘unproductive’. When the survey was carried out involving 1,500 respondents from 11 countries, they were asked how they spent their working hours.

In the study, it was found that Singaporeans spent a total of 380 hours per year or about 47.5 days out of the year doing repetitive and administrative tasks.

So you see where this is going. When Unit4 did the survey, they didn’t define ‘unproductive’ as playing with your phone or surfing Facebook at work (although you actually shouldn’t do that in any case).

The definition of ‘unproductive’ here was actually performing repetitive and mind numbing tasks like unnecessary paperwork that doesn’t actually help things happen in the workplace. The data showed that Singaporeans actually spent up to an equivalent of two months out of the year doing tasks that don’t achieve anything solid.

Apparently this loss of productivity is causing Singapore to lose up to $36.5 Billion a year. It’s a pretty grim prospect as this coincides with difficulties in transforming the way Singaporean businesses are run, as well as an ageing demographic which could result in a slimmer workforce in the future.

Some of the unproductive tasks assigned to Singaporeans include manually collating and entering data into a system, reporting on project statuses, planning their travel, filling in and submitting forms manually and invoicing.

In other words, paperwork that could have been done by machines.


The report did state that in order for businesses to liberate their workers from these mundane tasks and ensure that they focus on value added services, business owners have to embrace technological advancements that will automate many of these repetitive tasks to computers and software.

In the report, Singaporeans who were 41 and above reported spending more time at their primary tasks than younger workers, implying that only higher management or senior personnel spend more time being productive whereas more junior employees were assigned more ‘rowing in the galley’ type of tasks.

The other nations that performed better than Singapore in terms of productivity were the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Spain, France, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Sweden.

It’s no doubt that Singapore’s GDP continues to grow comfortably and steadily. However, with an ageing population and declining birth rates, maybe it’s time that businesses  and companies re-examine their SOPs in order to ensure that their human employees are given jobs that can’t be done by computers, rather than turning Singaporeans into living, breathing robots.

But then again, here’s the chicken and egg issue: if these tasks are done by computers, won’t more Singaporeans lose their job?

Hard issues to tackle, isn’t it?

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