Singapore's high stress levels prompt calls for better workplace support
November 2022   COMPANY NEWS

Singapore's high stress levels prompt calls for better workplace support

New Cigna International report, titled Stressed in Singapore – Employer Opportunity, shows rising cost of living, uncertainty about the future and hybrid work are inflicting significant levels of stress.
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  • Majority (86%) of Singapore adults are stressed, including 95% of 18-24-year-olds and 94% of hybrid workers
  • More than a third (35%) changed jobs in the past year and 34% are looking to change in the next 12 months
  • Over half (57%) are willing to take a lower paying job for more time for themselves

Singapore, 22 November 2022 – The cost-of-living crisis and uncertainty about the future are gripping Singaporeans, triggering high stress levels and workplace turnover just as the burden of pandemic restrictions finally lifts, new data from Cigna shows.

Global health service provider Cigna International’s newest 360 Well-Being report, titled Stressed in Singapore – Employer Opportunity, found that in Singapore, 86% of adults are stressed, well above the global average of 82%. Rising cost-of-living is the top driver of stress in Singapore, with half of the respondents ranking it first. Singaporeans aged 18 to 24 (Gen Z) are the most stressed (95%) and are the most emotionally impacted by stress, with over half saying they became more emotional or depressed.  

Adding to financial-related stress, the hybrid work model – though designed to offer flexibility and work-life balance – is also causing higher levels of stress in some working adults.  The Cigna report found that those working in the hybrid model in the city state are most likely to feel stressed (94% vs. average 86%) and must work outside normal hours at least once a week (90% vs. average 74%).

With the hybrid work model involving more virtual meetings and known to cause virtual overload or fatigue, Singapore respondents ranked measures to tackle this issue among the top five well-being measures they would like to have at work. But with only 8% of companies in Singapore currently providing such support, there is a clear need for employers to do more if they hope to maintain a satisfied and healthy workforce.

These work and well-being factors are prompting employees to shift careers to meet their lifestyle priorities, a trend known globally as the “Great Resignation”. This phenomenon is just as apparent in Singapore, with 35% of respondents having changed jobs in the past year and 34% looking to switch in the next 12 months. People are also increasingly valuing time over money – almost a third (57%) of people in Singapore are happy to take a less well-paid job for more time for themselves, much higher than the Asia Pacific (49%) and global (43%) average.

Raymond Ng, CEO of Cigna Singapore said: “Singapore remains one of the most expensive cities to live in both regionally and globally. Recent economic trends have only exacerbated stress levels among adults, especially the younger generation. Employers must recognize that stress impacts the individual, their families, friends and the organizations and colleagues they work with, and offer well-being support that better match employees’ expectations, or risk losing productivity and talent.”

There is a gap between what employees want from their companies and what they are currently getting. Flexible working arrangements and flexible time-off are the top well-being-related reasons that employees may prefer one employer over another, followed by having a healthcare plan that provides medical coverage, advice and personal support during and after a complex condition. While more than 2 in 5 (43%) Singapore workers claim that their working location or hours are flexible, flexible time-off is less common (27%). Only 1 in 5 (20%) claim that they have a comprehensive healthcare plan from their employers - much lower than the regional average (27%).

Larissa Beckhouse, Chief Marketing Officer for APAC and Head of Insights International Markets and Europe Global Segments at Cigna said: “Our findings show us that hybrid work comes with both pros and cons. While many employees in Singapore desire the flexibility of hybrid work, they are also struggling with increased workload, virtual fatigue, and reduced interaction with co-workers. The solution to this is not only in finding the most effective split or schedule of remote and in-office working, but understanding what employees need to help them combat stress and burnout as well as improving engagement with their work and colleagues.”

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About the Cigna 360 Global Well-Being Survey 2022  

To monitor and track the annual evolution of well-being, the Cigna 360 Global Well-Being Survey 2022 looked at five key components - family, financial, physical, social, and work. In partnership with Kantar, a leading data, insights and consulting company, Cigna International Markets has analyzed the findings to uncover the latest trends and challenges for health and well-being.

Cigna International surveyed 11,922 people aged 18-65, in Australia, Belgium, Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UAE, UK and USA. 1,001 people were surveyed in Singapore.

The fieldwork for this survey was completed in April and May 2022.

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