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61% of Singaporeans admit to staying back late at work just to “show face”

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A survey of 756 Singaporeans by YouGov Omnibus finds that a quarter (25%) almost never leave work on time, 22% ‘rarely’ leave the office on time, while 3% ‘never’ do.

That leaves close to half (47%) of Singaporeans saying they leave the office on time ‘most of the time’, and three in ten (28%) doing so ‘sometimes’.

While there may be several reasons for staying back late, almost six in ten (61%) said the reason is ‘showing face’, or the practice of presenteeism – staying at work for longer than required to boost one’s own professional standing.

The results weave in to Human Resources’ own spot-poll of more than 300 readers, which found that for a majority (34%) of respondents, work-life balance means “leaving office on time daily”. “Flexible working hours” is a close second (33%), following by “not working on the weekend” (19%).

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Back to the YouGov findings, it cites the main reasons why Singaporeans are so concerned about ‘showing face’ – 43% believe that it’s important to do so to advance their career.

Perhaps this is why, just 57% of low-earners (those earning less than S$4,000 a month) think it is acceptable to leave the office before their boss – a view shared by 72% of high-earners (those earning more than S$8,000 a month).


Six in ten (57%) have also admitted to coming into work even when ill to ‘show face’. While this practice is less common among older Singaporeans (those aged 55 and above), with six in ten (61%) having never come in while sick, only four in ten (38%) younger Singaporeans (those aged 18 to 34) choose not to show up to work while ill.

Jake Gammon, Head of YouGov Omnibus in APAC commented: “Productivity is always one of the biggest things businesses have to address; and long hours do not always equate to productivity.”

Lead photo / 123RF
Graphic / YouGov

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