A whopping 92% of working Singaporeans are stressed – and women are prioritising families over themselves, study finds


If you’re feeling stressed at work, you’re not alone. A vast majority of working Singaporeans are under stress, and women in particular feel that it’s less manageable, a survey has found.

In the 2019 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey, a whopping 92 per cent of working Singaporeans report feeling stressed, higher than the global average of 84 per cent.

Of this, 13 per cent say their stress is unmanageable, which is on par with the global average, according to the study which surveyed a total of 13,200 online interviews in 23 markets, including 502 residents in Singapore.

And stress doesn’t go undetected in the workplace. The survey found that 55 per cent of Singaporean respondents notice their colleagues’ stress. Cigna’s report said this could be a sign that they are hiding their stress or aren’t comfortable talking about it.

Read also: 6 in 10 Singaporeans admit that they don’t leave work on time just to ‘show face’

Noticing colleagues’ stress in turn makes respondents more self-aware, it seems. 30 per cent of respondents feel more conscious about managing their own stress upon seeing others stressed at work.

And a vast majority (90 per cent) agree that stress has a serious impact on the workplace. Some of the more worrying effects are lowered morale and even resignation.

Women prioritise families over themselves

While Singaporean women are slightly less stressed, when compared to men, women who suffer from stress find it more difficult to manage. This “inadvertently leads them to neglect their physical health more than men”, Cigna’s report said.

It also found that 54 per cent of women feel physically healthy, compared to 56 per cent of men.

According to the survey, Singaporean men are more likely to sleep better and longer, engage in exercise and eat a proper diet.

Women who are single, married and mothers all say that their sources of stress include personal finance, too much work and their personal health. This suggest that women are “putting family first and themselves last”, the report added.

Read also: Women in Singapore earned 87.5% of what men earned in 2018 – the largest gender wage gap in 10 years

More women (71 per cent) than men (66 per cent) also feel they are working in an “always-on” environment, where there is a constant need to access work emails, attend work calls or check mobile phones for work purposes.

According to the survey, to better manage stress, these women want their employers to offer flexible work arrangements, special paid leave and opportunities to work from home.

Lack of support at work

More than half of Singaporean women surveyed feel that senior management do not support workplace wellness programs enough, while 59 per cent of them feel that workplace wellness programmes need to better address the needs of each gender.

Furthermore, only 33 per cent of all respondents, both male and female, say they have a formal workplace wellness program – and only half of them participate in these.

“This highlights the need to reassess how beneficial and/or accessible these programs are to employees,” the study said.

Additionally, 44 per cent of respondents feel that these programmes are not focused enough on mental well-being.

Unprepared for old age

According to the report, only 31 per cent of Singaporean respondents say that they are financially ready for old age – which they believe begins at 59 years.

In addition, 67 per cent of them anticipate still working at an old age – primarily to stay physically and mentally active, and to keep busy while staying financially viable.

But Singaporeans are not positive about being able to find a job in their senior years, with only 32 per cent of respondents predicting that there will be companies willing to hire them.

The survey – which examined perceptions of well-being across the indices of family, financial, physical, social and work – also found a fall in Singapore’s overall wellness index. According to Cigna, the wellness index has dropped by 1.7 points from 2018 to 57.8. This is also lower than the global average of 62.

This makes Singapore the fifth-lowest ranked for wellness globally, ahead of Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Turkey.

According to Cigna, there was also a sharp decline in Singaporeans’ physical wellness. The dip of 4.4 points was attributed to an increase in sleepless nights.

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