SINGAPORE: A recent survey conducted by health technology provider Telus Health has revealed concerning insights into the mental and physical well-being of workers in Singapore.

According to the findings released on June 13, almost 50% of Singapore workers feel mentally or physically exhausted at work.

The Straits Times reported that the survey, which polled 1,000 workers across various sectors, including health services, public administration, manufacturing, and construction, highlights a growing issue of burnout among employees.

Burnout, characterised by exhaustion, diminished performance, and cynicism, is increasingly prevalent among younger workers under 40, who are three times more likely to experience extreme burnout than their older counterparts.

Mr Haider Amir, Telus Health’s director for Asia, emphasised the “pressing need for employers to prioritise mental health support,” noting that two-thirds of workers exhibit at least one symptom of burnout.

The top reason cited for burnout among respondents was excessive workload, with 27% indicating it as a primary cause. Other contributing factors include personal demands (16%), lack of recognition (13%), and job insecurity (9%).

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The survey also highlighted a disconnect between the prevalence of burnout and the availability of mental health support in workplaces.

Shockingly, 52% of workers reported that their employers do not offer mental health programmes such as confidential counselling or wellness services.

This lack of support is compounded by a pervasive “always on” work culture, which blurs the boundaries between work and personal life.

Dr John Shepherd Lim, chief well-being officer of the Singapore Counselling Centre, warned of the long-term consequences of unaddressed burnout, stressing that it can lead to clinical depression and anxiety disorders.

He highlighted the economic impact of neglecting mental health in the workplace, pointing out potential losses in productivity and increased healthcare costs.

In response to these findings, experts and advocates urge employers to prioritise mental health support and create healthier work environments.

David Leong, managing director of PeopleWorldwide Consulting, advocated for proactive measures such as workload management and flexible work arrangements to mitigate the effects of burnout.

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He stressed that burnout “not only impacts employees’ mental and physical health but also reduces productivity, increases absenteeism, and leads to higher turnover rates.”

Mr Paul Heng, founder of NeXT Career Consulting Group, echoed these sentiments, encouraging workers to take ownership of their mental health and seek help when needed.

He challenged existing stigmas surrounding mental health issues in the workplace, stating, “Employers that look upon those who seek help in a discriminatory manner need to be brought to light and sanctioned.”

Meanwhile, the voices of Singapore workers online reflect a growing sentiment for shorter work hours and more flexible schedules.

Many expressed frustration with long hours and “mandatory” lunch breaks that extend the workday unnecessarily. One said that “Hours are too long” at work.

Another remarked, “It’s the sneaky ‘mandatory’ lunch hour too. I don’t take lunch, but then I’m working one hour extra in the middle of the day.”

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While some hope for a 35-hour workweek, others advocate for a 4-day one. “Even a 4.5-day workweek with Friday afternoons off would be a godsend,” one commenter shared. /TISG

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