Monday, November 14, 2011

(Over) Working in Singapore

The work environment, salaries as well as living conditions in Singapore are much better than the other Asian countries but all these advantages come with a price. Working hours in Singapore are usually very long and work among all industries are demanding and stressful. According to a recent survey by Regus, 20 per cent of the employees in Singapore are clocking more than 11 hours a day:

"Out of 95 employees polled in an online global survey by international business company Regus, 19 per cent of them said they have worked eleven or more hours a day. This is 9 percentage points higher than the global average and 5 percentage points more than Japan, which took the second spot. Most Singapore respondents were professionals, while the 19 per cent comprised of senior corporate professionals and business owners.

The month-long survey held in September cuts across 85 countries and interviewed 12,000 employees in total."[1]

Findings are not surprising for anyone working in Singapore. And statistics are also inline with these findings. For example, according to The United States Department of Labor, Singapore has the highest average annual hours worked (total hours worked in an economy divided by number of people employed) among all the develop nations listed in 2010!

Average annual hours worked, 2010 - Source : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Michelle Lim, chief operating officer of the JobsCentral Group, attributes this tendency to over-work to Singapore employees’ career-driven attitude and values such as being hard-working and competitive in the workplace. She is unfortunately too optimistic, this phenomenon can be very well related to problems of working life such as feared redundancy, job security, and relatively low productivity, especially the low productivity. Just take a look at the numbers from GDP per hours worked and Singapore as well as the other 2 over working nations South Korea and Japan, dive far down to the bottom of the list!

GDP per hours worked, 2010 - Source : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The statistics say that the countries with low levels of GDP per hours worked, such as Singapore and South Korea also often have a high number of average annual hours worked per employed person. This means we work more hours compared to developed world but we do not produce a lot in the end because we produce less per hour. Again not surprisingly, we top all the wrong lists:

"However, throughout the region as a whole, Singaporeans seem to be the most discontented. They topped the lists for dissatisfaction with their jobs (37%), their pay and benefits (41%), work-life balance (25%) job security (24%) and feared redundancy (41%) more than others."[2] 

[1] - 1 in 5 S’pore employees work more than eleven hours daily: survey
[2] - Monday morning blues

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