Singapore Employees “Under Happy”

SINGAPORE: Employees in the Republic “can be happier”, according to the results of the National Workplace Happiness Survey 2014 revealed on Tuesday (Nov 11).

The nation’s overall workplace happiness index is 59, which falls into the band “Under Happy”, between “Unhappy” and “Happy”.

The survey was jointly conceived and organised in April by the Singapore Human Resources Institute – a not-for-profit organisation representing over 3,000 human resource professionals – and Align Group, a people consulting research firm. It was done to obtain a national benchmark on workplace happiness with a scientific measurement.

The survey polled around 5,600 people in online questionnaires and 94 per cent of the respondents are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents. They were asked about various aspects such as job satisfaction and well-being. Their responses were then mapped to an index with three bands: “Unhappy” (0-50), “Under Happy” (51-67) and “Happy” (68-100).

The results show that more can be done to make workplaces in Singapore happier, said Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute. “From the HR perspective, there is more that the employer can do to let our employees feel a sense of empowerment.”


Industries with the highest happiness rankings are charity and social services and education, while those with the lowest rankings include logistics and supply chain, and banking and financial services.

Employees of voluntary welfare organisations and local small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) are also happier at work, compared to those in multinational corporations.

Said Align Group’s managing director, Low Boon Seong: “The reason could be that SMEs give employees more participation and more autonomy, and probably the staff are able to see how they shape the company’s growth, so I think this spells opportunities for SMEs in terms of their talent attraction and retention strategies.”


The top happiness drivers include brand identity, culture and positive emotions. Of 28 factors, salary and benefits rank as having the least impact.

Mr Low commented: “I think we can understand that for salary level, once you achieve a certain baseline, any increment would be marginal in terms of affecting how happy a person feels, and people will start to look at the higher factors.”


Women also seem to be happier at work than men, with a slightly higher index. One factor with a significant impact for women is whether they are treated fairly at work. For men, it is the hope of a better future at work.


Among the different age groups, Gen X – those born between 1964 and 1980 – are the least happy at work, with an overall index of 58. For Baby Boomers – those born before 1964 – the index is 64.4. Meanwhile, the score for Gen Y – those born after 1980 – is 58.5.

Mr Low described Generation X as “the sandwiched class”. He said: “This is consistent with other studies out there, probably because of the burden they have to carry in terms of managing older parents and younger kids.”


Survey organisers feel the findings can help employers enhance HR policies. Mr Tan said: “People want to have some form of control over their career, over their work-life arrangement. They also want to be given a better direction, what sort of areas they can grow with the organisation.

“I think the HR practitioners and employers need to sit down and understand the individual staff needs better. With that change of thinking, they will be able to enhance their current HR policy to make sure that there is a better engagement of the employee, and boost morale and productivity.”

But organisers also acknowledge that there are limitations. As the English-language survey is done through electronic channels, the responses gathered are from those who have access to computers or smartphones.

The profile mix is considered to be representative of the white-collar working population in Singapore. Organisers said that it would be interesting to compare the result of the survey with one that focuses on blue-collar workers.

They added that some of the interesting dimensions can be analysed with more depth, possibly through a more precise study.



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