Half a decade onward and low work happiness scores continue to dog many Singapore workers, with $10,000 monthly salary being the 'magic' defining mark for improving happiness.
By: Alythea Ho
Many studies have been done on happiness, emotions, and satisfaction. Some claim Singaporeans are unfeeling beings who are curiously capable of developing emotions one year later. Others suggest Singaporeans are fairly satisfied living in one of the most desirable nations in the world.
Clearly happiness is a subjective matter. Question is, why do researchers still persist in studying it?
Because happiness is so crucial to our well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life.
Consider this: we spend over half of our waking hours at the workplace. Yet work happiness still eludes many in Singapore - even after half a decade.
According to JobsCentral's 2013 Work Happiness Indicator survey, Singapore workers have shown consistently low levels of work happiness that hover just about the 'Neutral' range since 2009. In addition, today's workers are only marginally happier (57.9 points) than five years ago (56.4 points).
2009, as many will recall, was a difficult time because of the global recession.
"Unfortunately, for work happiness levels to hover within the same unhealthy range for five years, it is clear that there is a mismatch between what employees want and what jobs are able to provide," says Lim Der Shing, Chief Executive Officer of the JobsCentral Group. "This is a worrying trend, as a marginally happy workforce would have repercussions on work productivity, innovation and Singapore's economic growth in the longer term."
Over 3,500 Singapore workers took part in the JobsCentral online survey this year, which ran from 22nd May to 23rd June, and has a margin error of 1.64 per cent. Other findings include:
Workers approaching retirement age are unhappiest
Singapore workers are most miserable if they're between 51 - 60 years old. This age group scored the lowest with 55.5 points -- a 12 per cent drop in work happiness since 2009. On the other hand, those aged 61 years and above scored nearly 70 points, placing them in the 'Moderately Happy' category.
Salary is king but Millennials also value Advancement Opportunities; Gen X prefers Work-life Balance
Singapore workers want money. Across all age groups, respondents agree that 'Salary' is the most important aspect in a job. However, Generation X also wants 'Work-life balance' and voted it as second most important. In contrast, 'Work-life balance' only ranks 4th place among the Millennial Generation. The Millennials - those aged 29 years and below - ranked 'Advancement opportunities' in 2nd place instead.
Salary causes most dissatisfaction; $10,000 monthly wage is 'magic' mark
Unfortunately, 'Salary' is also the aspect most workers are least satisfied with. This disparity between importance and actual compensation may have helped contribute to the consistently dismal happiness scores over the past five years. As costs of living continue to rise in Singapore, many workers feel the pressure to make more money to maintain their aspirations and way of life.
Perhaps it's not surprising, therefore, that those earning $10,000 or more each month are really happy. They also have one of the highest increases in work happiness since 2009. In contrast, those who earn $5,000 - $5,999 monthly have the greatest decline in happiness levels.
Lawyers are unhappy
But money isn't everything. Even though lawyers tend to command a higher average salary than the average Singapore worker, employees in Legal job functions have shown the largest decline in happiness, with a 6 per cent decrease in overall work happiness in 2013 compared to 2009. They are also among the least happy groups of workers, alongside Supply Chain/Distribution and Merchandising workers. A possible explanation is that these workers often work overtime, which results in a lowered 'Work-life Balance', one of the more highly prized aspects in a job.
For the free Work Happiness Indicator 2013 Report, please download here.
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The JobsCentral Group, a CareerBuilder company, is the owner of JobsCentral.com.sg, one of Singapore's largest job and learning portals. Get a free career personality test and more career- and education-related articles at JobsCentral and JobsCentral Community. Alternatively, Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter for more career-centric content!
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