SINGAPORE — A study by tech company Kisi, released on Wednesday (Aug. 7), showed that Singapore was named the second most overworked city in the world, after Tokyo. In terms of work-life balance, Singapore ranked 32 out of the 40 cities studied.
The Kisi index, entitled Cities for the Best Work-Life Balance 2019, compared data on work intensity, institutional support, legislation, and liveability of 40 global cities based on their success in promoting work-life balance to their citizens.
The cities included in the 2019 Work–Life Balance Index are “known for attracting professionals and families for their work opportunities and diverse lifestyle offerings”, the study said.
Average number of hours worked per week, minimum number of vacation days offered, average amount of time spent travelling to work, gender parity, and perceived level of happiness were among the factors taken into consideration when ranking the cities.
For work-life balance, Helsinki, Munich, Oslo, Hamburg and Stockholm took the top five spots. Singapore scored in the bottom ten, ranking 32 out of 40 cities. Kuala Lumpur was ranked the city with the least work-life balance, with Tokyo and Buenos Aires close behind.
The index showed that the top five most overworked cities in the world are Tokyo, Singapore, Washington, Kuala Lumpur and Houston.
The study focused on three broad categories which make a city successful at achieving a well-rounded work-life balance:
- Work Intensity Score: Arrival time at work, hours worked per week, minimum vacations offered, vacations taken, unemployment rate, amount of paid maternal and parental leave and time spent commuting.
- Society & Institutions Score: Social spending (% of GDP), healthcare, access to mental healthcare, gender equality and LGBT equality.
- City Liveability Score: Safety, happiness, city stress, outdoor spaces, air pollutants, wellness and fitness, and leisure.
The index showed that in Singapore, people began their work day at 9.34am on average, with 23 percent of people working more than 48 hours per week.
Among the 40 cities, the fewest average number of hours worked per week was recorded for Oslo at 38.9 hours. The highest average number of hours worked per week was recorded for Kuala Lumpur at 46 hours, followed by Singapore at 44.6 hours.
Workers in Singapore were given a minimum of seven vacation days and took 14 vacation days on average.
Singapore had the highest safety score out of all 40 cities and ranked 11th in terms of gender equality. It was ranked seventh for perceived happiness and 17th for “stress-inducing factors”, which included population density, climate, transport and infrastructure, and local economy.
The index drew data on sources like Kisi’s own internal data, the International Labour Organisation and Expedia.
CEO of Kisi Bernhard Mehl commented on the study:
“It is important for us to note that our professional and personal lives are not, and should not be, mutually exclusive.
Despite living in an era where unprecedented advancements have been made in technology and connectivity, we have failed to address the most everyday aspect of enhancing our everyday lives – finding the balance between work and leisure.
Whether it’s the long hours, unrealistic expectations from bosses or job insecurity, workplace stress has proven to affect our physical and mental health.
As long as employees are stressed, they will not take advantage of the safeguards created for their well-being – no matter how progressive government and company reforms are.”
Kisi noted that the index was not intended as a ranking of the best cities to work in (read: Singapore top destination for Asian jobseekers, ousting Europe, North America and China) nor was it designed to be a city liveability index, instead aiming to be a “guideline for cities to benchmark their ability to support the fulfilment of residents’ lives by improving the aspects of life that help relieve work-related stress and intensity”.
Work-life balance and incorporating more rest and relaxation has been a challenge for over-achieving Singaporeans, who also scored second in a 2018 Wakefield Research study on most sleep-deprived and topped a Cigna survey on most stressed at work, as previously reported by The Independent. /TISG
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