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A Recent Survey Pinpoints the Reasons Singaporeans are so Miserable at Work

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Joanne Poh

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You really don’t need a survey to tell you that Singaporeans are generally unhappy at work. Just meet a bunch of friends for post-work drinks in the CBD and you’re sure to hear an outpouring of vitriol.

But yet another survey has shown that Singaporeans are some of the unhappiest workers in the region. Yawn. JobStreet’s Job Happiness Index 2016 has found Singapore to have the unhappiest workers out of 7 Asian markets surveyed, including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Pfft, considering the fact that we work some of the world’s longest hours, that’s no surprise.

What’s more revealing, though, are the survey’s findings about why workers are unhappy and the things that would actually make them happy. Here are four illuminating findings in JobStreet’s Job Happiness survey, and what they say about Singaporean workers.

 

Top corporate executives are the unhappiest employees

Despite the huge wealth inequality in Singapore, it appears that the rich aren’t all that happy either. According to the survey, respondents in the C-suites (i.e. the biggest senior executives in the corporate world) were pretty damn unhappy.

Ironically, these corporate big-wigs were probably some of the highest earners on the list. This should be a big warning sign to Singaporeans that chasing career and salary advancement at all costs could very well not make them any less miserable

 

Fresh graduates are the happiest employees

According to the survey, fresh graduates were the happiest employees. Now that’s pretty sad, as it suggests that one’s happiness at work falls after the initial high when you’re a blur sotong fresh grad who is still idealistic and hasn’t been jaded by the harsh realities of the working world.

It should, however, be noted that fresh grads weren’t exactly all that happy either, especially when compared with respondents from the other countries on the list—they were just less miserable than their seniors.

 

Singaporeans don’t like their bosses

While many people tend to believe that the be-all and end-all of a Singaporean’s existence is how much money he makes, salary was surprisingly not one of the top three factors cited by Singaporeans as the main reason they were unhappy at work.

Instead, lack of management competency was Singaporeans’ top reason for wanting to burn their office to the ground.

A lot has been said about the conflicting expectations of Singaporean millennials and their baby boomer bosses. The bosses are still highly conservative types who believe in maintaining a strict hierarchy at work and insist on lots of face time, while employees are starting to demand greater flexibility and meaning in the work.

However, due to the weakness of employees’ rights in Singapore, many bosses do take advantage of their workers, bordering on the abusive in some cases. Unsurprisingly, that’s a huge reason so many people hate their jobs.

 

The things that make Singaporeans happy at work aren’t necessarily directly related to money

Again, stop thinking of Singaporean workers as these mercenaries who’ll do anything for money. The survey results show quite clearly that Singaporeans’ happiness at work depends a lot more on their working conditions and personal satisfaction.

When asked which factors were key in contributing to their happiness at work, Singaporeans cited convenient work location, having good colleagues and company reputation.

The first might come as a surprise, but when you think about how badly you want to stab yourself in the face each time you squeeze into a sardine can MRT carriage on your way to work in the morning it all becomes much more understandable.

The premium Singaporean workers placed on good colleagues also makes a lot of sense, considering the fact that 40% of the Singaporeans who responded to a recent poll declared office politics to be a huge stressor at work.

It’s clear that Singaporeans now care about a lot more than how much they’re paid at work. When evaluating a job offer, it’s therefore wise to consider a wide range of factors, from the distance you’ll have to travel to get to work each morning to whether the company culture energises you or makes you want to drown yourself in the bathtub.

Are you happy or unhappy at work? Tell us why in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.