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Employee burnout in Singapore: Perspectives from executives, HR leaders, and employees

Employee burnout in Singapore: Perspectives from executives, HR leaders, and employees

Nearly two in five employees in Singapore are willing to forgo pay increases to be able to work flexibly, slightly higher than the Asia (37%) and the global average (34%).

According to Mercer's The Rise of the Relatable Organisation study, one in five Singaporeans feel de-energised at work — twice as high as the Asia average and 6% higher than the global average.

Drawing on insights from nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders, and employees globally, the study overall highlights how winning organisations prioritise wellbeing and reskilling while partnering with employees to co-create a new shape of work.

Looking into wellbeing, 85% of employees feel at risk of burnout this year, with one in two intending to leave their jobs in the next six to 12 months. Looking into why employees indicated as such, the study identified the following top reasons:

  1. Not feeling sufficiently rewarded for their efforts (35%)
  2. Feeling overloaded at work (34%)
  3. Feeling uncertain with changes not being clearly communicated (30%).

This suggests organisations have yet to keep up with evolving employee expectations of work and the workplace. According to Mercer, organisations now see the importance of nurturing a healthy workforce and placing good mental health as part of overall employee wellbeing. In fact, 36% of Singapore HR leaders indicated that they are planning to introduce strategies to address burnout this year. These include more mental health insurance coverage, offering virtual mental health counselling, and providing training on how to identify and support those facing mental health challenges.

“While companies are doing more on employee wellness, a gap still remains between what companies are offering and employees’ expectations. Companies need to know that a failure to focus on employee wellness can potentially put a company’s transformation at risk,” commented Lewis Garrad, Career Business Leader, Singapore, Mercer.

Work in partnership: Not being able to work remotely is a deal-breaker

Hot on the heels of recent workforce trends, the study also looked into the future of work.

One in two employees across Singapore says the future of work is about balance – fitting work around life and no longer life around work. In comparison to 2020, employees today say they are more likely to stay with their employer due to life-related factors, such as flexibility and healthcare, compared to work-related factors, such as an organisation’s vision and leadership.

Additionally, nearly two in five employees in Singapore are willing to forgo pay increases to be able to work flexibly, slightly higher than the Asia (37%) and the global average (34%). Importantly, over six in 10 employees (62%) say not being able to work remotely or hybrid permanently is a deal-breaker when considering whether to join or stay with an organisation.

However, more so than employees in Singapore and organisations globally, executives in Singapore are concerned about the impact of permanent hybrid and remote working, especially the ability to build and maintain colleague relationships (86%). Interestingly, six in 10 also believe fundamentally that work gets done in an office, not remotely

Build for employability: Significant skill gaps remain

Apart from the above, the study also looked at the skills landscape in Singapore organisations.

Per the findings, while 93% of employees in Singapore reported recently learning a new skill, a staggering 97% of companies report significant skill gaps in their organisation.

While providing opportunities to reskill and upskill is top of the People agenda of organisations in Singapore in 2022, certain barriers still remain. Lack of time aside (37%), almost one in four employees said they are not sure which skills to focus on.

Looking at the issue from an HR perspective, HR leaders have their reservations. The study observed that they find it difficult to:

  1. Keep up with the pace of change and emerging skill needs (38%)
  2. Identify employees with the most potential to effectively leverage new skills (37%)
  3. Know what skills are utilised in the workforce today (36%).

Garrad points out that addressing the skill gaps is instrumental for organisations to realise their strategy, meet evolving business needs, and ensure the employability of their talent well into the future.

Further, with skills as the new currency of work, As skills become the currency of work, organisations must rethink how work gets done and how skills are made viable.

Understanding the talent drivers needed to stay relevant

Overall, the study noted that a fundamental change in people’s values will give rise to a structural shift in the labour market. With a record number of employees switching jobs last year, understanding talent drivers is critical. In that vein, the study highlighted the top motivations that employees cited for joining their current employers:

  • job security,
  • organisational brand and reputation
  • competitive salaries

With these in mind, employers who want to remain relevant would need to listen intently to their stakeholders, and "walk the talk on their core values through company purpose and work standards."

"We are seeing increased pressure for organisations to start contributing to society in a way that reflects the values of their clients, employees, and investors. The real challenge is making progress amid inflationary pressures, geopolitical conflicts, and tackling differing views on the future of work.

"The good news is, organisations now have a moment of profound opportunity to pick up the tools of empathy honed during the pandemic to carve a new way of partnering that is more relatable, connected, and sustainable," Garrad concludes.

ALSO READ: Burnout, poor work-life balance, low productivity: The vicious cycle hitting Malaysia & Singapore employees

Lead photo / 123RF

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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