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Rates of Employee Burnout in Singapore Are Among the Highest in the World

Year after year, Employee burnout in Singapore remains top in the world and 2023 is no different. There seems to be a lack of open conversations about it at workplaces, which raises mental health concerns for employees.

According to Milieu’s 2023 report focusing on HR professionals in Singapore, at least 75% of them experience burnout and 32% of the respondents believe their company values mental health. The remaining respondents largely remain dissatisfied, even though mental health resources are provided.

HR Asia Academy also confirmed that over 73% of Singapore workers experience stress at least once a week at work, with 16% experiencing stress every day. One interesting finding is that there is an increasing number of employees worrying about job security.

So in this Pacific Prime CXA article, let’s try to understand what corporate burnout is, why employers should fight work-related stress among their employees, and how putting more attention and resources into employee benefits can help.

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What is Employee Burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially started to recognize burnout as an occupational phenomenon that may require care at the pandemic outbreak. This signifies the heightened awareness of society to employees facing and at risk of burnout across the globe.

In their statement, the WHO defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • Reduced professional efficacy.”

What Causes Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout is caused by work-related stress. However, what causes this type of stress in the first place? Let’s look at the most common reasons that cause workplace stress among employees:

  • Long working hours
  • Tight deadlines
  • Over-supervision
  • Unrealistic expectations of workers’ productivity
  • Poor relationships with colleagues or bosses
  • Lack of autonomy
  • Lack of recognition
  • Boring work
  • Harassment and discrimination
  • Poor work-life balance

In the case of employee burnout in Singapore, the competitive work culture itself should be added to the list. On par with the strong work culture, the stigma of seeking help for mental matters also contributes to the high score of corporate burnout in the Lion City.

The Cost of Corporate Burnout

Employee burnout in Singapore can cost employers in many ways. Employees are more likely to take sick leave (absenteeism) as a result of work-related stress. This unscheduled absenteeism roughly costs USD $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and USD $2,660 each year for salaried employees.

The hefty costs can be attributed to many factors:

  • Salaries paid to absent employees,
  • High-cost replacement workers,
  • Administrative costs of managing absenteeism
  • Poor product/service outcome

Besides absenteeism, there is the emergence of presenteeism. This is when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace due to a lack of awareness about their own physical and mental health issues. Doing so hurts productivity levels, which can also contribute to huge losses to the company.

The competitive work culture in Singapore, coupled with a stigma for mental health conditions, make the city-state rife with presenteeism. What’s more, burned-out employees are more than twice as likely to leave their current employer, increasing the HR costs for hiring and training new staff.

Therefore, companies that would rather not lose money due to reduced employee productivity, illness, and high turnover, should learn how to recognize burnout in their employees, how to prevent it, and support their employees.

What Employers Can Do to Prevent Employee Burnout?

Organizations in Singapore should aim to nurture a healthy workforce as part of overall employee well-being.

Typical burnout prevention strategies can include:

  • Setting realistic expectations
  • Ensuring employees are equipped with the necessary skills
  • Helping employees understand their value to the organization
  • Evaluating an individual’s workload
  • Prioritizing listening to the employees’ needs

In fact, 36% of Singapore HR leaders say they are planning to introduce more strategies to tackle burnout, which includes offering extensive mental health insurance coverage, virtual mental health counseling, and training sessions on how to identify and support those facing mental health challenges.

Did you know the rising key solution to addressing burnout? According to a recent study by Randstad, a better work-life balance for employees outperformed the effectiveness of monetary compensation.

Over 90% of the respondents said that being able to work remotely or in a hybrid manner is a “deal-sealer”. Having more autonomy in their roles facilitates fostering a supportive work environment where people feel connected, valued, and respected.

This sheds light on the rising need for employers to adapt their approach to be more flexible and meet employees’ changing expectations. Not only will this boost the morale of existing employees, but it’ll also help attract and retain new employees.

Design the Right Employee Benefits Plan through Pacific Prime Singapore

Besides flexible work arrangements, employee benefits in Singapore should be designed holistically to answer all of your employee’s needs so they can stay motivated and healthy. Not sure where to begin?

Pacific Prime CXA can help. We specialize in designing group health insurance plans (including mental health benefits) using a tailored, technology-driven approach, as well as corporate wellness plans to help employees better manage stress and prevent burnout.

If you feel like your organization may need to introduce or review your employee benefits solutions, feel free to contact Pacific Prime CXA for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation at any time!

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Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime Singapore
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung