Happiness at work

It’s rush hour on any given weekday and millions of professionals are making their way to work in Singapore. Some are traveling by MRT, others by car, bus or ride share. Considering these millions of professionals, a very important question comes up: how happy is the workforce in Singapore on their way to work?

To be fair, the word “happy” can be subjective. Given the choice, would anyone voluntarily be going to work versus, say, on their way to an exotic beach resort in Bali? Perhaps the question is less about happiness and more about job satisfaction. And when it comes to job satisfaction, what are some of the factors that can make us more or less satisfied?

This question is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, so we surveyed 1,328 professionals in Singapore at all job levels to hear: what are some of the aspects of work that make people happy...or not? And how do those factors contribute to an overall feeling of job satisfaction and workplace happiness? This is what we found.

Whistling on the commute to work

Around the world, extreme commuting (spending more than two hours commuting per day) is on the rise due to high rental costs and crowded cities. So in Singapore, given its relatively small size, how long are people spending getting to and from the office?

According to our results, 90% of respondents spend an hour or less travelling daily, just enough time to beat several levels of Candy Crush - but not an unreasonable amount of time, considering that in many metropolitan cities around the world, commute times often exceed two hours per day. In another recent report, Singapore was the top Asian city in terms of best commute, with a low commute time, and low average cost of commute when looking at it as a percentage of monthly income.

90% spend an hour or less travelling to work daily

Interestingly, 46% of respondents regard the commute to work as an important factor when considering a new job, signaling that office location could play a large part in whether or not a job offer is accepted. 

Work commute is a factor for job consideration

A delicate (work-life) balance

The idea of work-life balance is an important one in the current work landscape, as job burnout becomes a more recognised consequence of long hours and high stress. This can be a subjective concept, as what is balanced for one professional isn’t for another, but personal definitions aside, we should all agree that spending more time doing things you love, or more time with family and friends can only be a good thing.

And a better balance between work and life leads to overall job satisfaction and employee engagement. According to our results, 7 out of 10 respondents responded to work calls and emails outside of office hours. On the other side, while actually at work, 59% of respondents said that they communicate with friends and family by phone and message. However, it didn’t take up a large percentage of their day, as 91% spent less than one hour on personal matter while at work, showing that those in Singapore are pretty productive.

Statistics responding to email after working hours

As the final word, 8 out of 10 professionals responded that they are happy with their work-life balance, suggesting that while there is a lot of hard work going on in offices around the country, there’s also a lot of living going on outside of them too.

Statistics work life balance respondent

Staying connected

Smartphones, laptops, tablets - connectivity is a big deal these days and in many ways the line between time in the office and time out is becoming blurred by the pressure to always be on. This pressure can be increased by the devices that companies provide - 86% of respondents in Singapore received a device from work, and the type of device varied:

common devices provided at work

Changes in mindset

In many cases, with all above factors considered, it’s less about what a professional’s actual situation is, and more about their mindset when viewing that situation. As shown in multiple studies, those with a growth mindset, in which they see constant opportunities for development and improvement, are happier, more engaged and more satisfied.

While it seems a bit too easy, sometimes the key to happiness can be as simple as reframing the way that successes and failures within the work environment are viewed.

Professionals in Singapore are happy!

Survey results and statistics aside, it seems that the happiest professionals, not just in Singapore, but all over the world, are those who are treated as humans. Humans who work hard and strive to meet goals, but who have fulfilling lives outside of work, being more than just their job titles. 

As for our survey, some answers are surprising, some are expected, but overall, this is a good picture of professionals at work. Despite all appearances on the train in the morning, it turns out that a majority of us are pretty satisfied when it comes to working conditions in Singapore.

Download the full infographic here for more insights.