Singaporean Workforce Resilience is Declining, What Will Drive Sustainable Change?

July 5, 20211:36 pm740 views
Singaporean Workforce Resilience is Declining, What Will Drive Sustainable Change?
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The ongoing pandemic has affected each individual differently. As the crisis drags on, employee experience and wellbeing are greatly impacted. A recent survey commissioned by EngageRocket in collaboration with the Institute for HR Professionals (IHRP) and the Singapore HR Institute (SHRI) showed that the Singaporean workforce this year is less resilient with poorer mental well-being than last year.

The State of Employee Experience 2021 report collected and analysed 390,000 responses between March and June this year. The survey focuses on three key impact areas: the state of employee resilience, its effects on mental well-being and how office, hybrid and remote work influences different segments of employees. To address this issue, the survey also offers action points necessary to ensure retention, productivity and well-being.

Key Insights from the report

  • Unfortunately, the survey finds that overall wellbeing and resilience among Singaporean workers are in decline. In 2021, overall engagement has reduced by 14% from last year. As the government instructed non-essential businesses to allow staff to work from home, many are unprepared to shift to the new work arrangement. Heavier workloads, resulting from a lack of WFH preparation and multiplying home obligations, have led to employees experiencing 3x more burnout.
  • While the overall resilience is decreasing, majority of employees (64 percent) are confident about the future of their organisation. This indicates an uplift sentiment, compared to 81 percent in 2020. However, it should be noted that the number of languishing employees have also increased and they are more prone to feel neutral about their organisation’s future than optimistic.
  • Among respondents surveyed, the youngest demographics are struggling the most. The number of millennials reporting healthy levels of mental well-being is also significantly lower at 40 percent vs. 60 percent of Boomers. When it comes to retention, only 67 percent of young employees are eager to stay on in their current organisations. In comparison, 80 percent of Gen X and 78 percent of Boomers plan to do so.

See also: 2020 was The Year of Disruption – Let 2021 be Defined by Resilience

“After a year of economic volatility, personal anxiety, and unpredictable change, 2020 has been a demonstration of human beings’ incredible resilience in the face of a crisis, and our ability to adapt. As we marked the sobering anniversary of the first Circuit Breaker, it is important to take stock of the long-term impact of COVID-19 and implement tactics to address new and emerging challenges. HR and people leaders need to continually iterate the employee experience strategies with relevant and timely data,” commented Chee Tung Leong, CEO and co-founder of EngageRocket. 

Leong elaborates, “Although employees are still showcasing high levels of productivity, it is masking their struggles and risk of burnout. Already, we see an uptick in resignation rates from workforces in other countries such as the United States. In order to prevent talent attrition, companies need to understand that mental well-being is multi-faceted and should leverage on data to effectively design an impactful employee experience strategy and implement new indices for stress. Different segments, such as employees with school-going children, have different concerns that contribute to their disengagement. This issue cannot be simply resolved with generic, “one-size-fits-all” wellness programmes. Critically, 2021 will be a make-or-break year for people management and organisational success. Hence, agility is no longer a buzzword in the pandemic era, and companies need to be agile enough to address the increasing state of languishing amongst their employees before it is too late.”

Remote workers are more productive than those working in the office or in a hybrid model 

With government regulations and restrictions constantly undergoing change, before the return to Phase Two, several companies have opted for hybrid work – where employees spend a designated number of hours in office and the rest working from home.

  • Remote environments are the most conducive for productivity
    • 77 percent of remote employees reported being productive. 
    • Office workers are slightly less productive at 73 percent.
    • Hybrid workers are the least productive of all at 72 percent. 
  • 46 percent of office workers are detractors compared to 32 percent of the remote workforce 
    • 77 percent of remote employees want to stay on in their current organisation vs 69 percent for office workers. 

“We need to be mindful about the mental health of our employees. Working from home on extended working hours over long periods of time can also bring about detrimental issues. Leaders must adopt an emphatic mindset and to lead with a human. Digitalisation is changing how we react to the pandemic and how it has been changing not only to the business but as well the human resource ecosystem. We, as HR professionals, need to help our employees experience the positive impact of these rapid changes and not bear the negative changes alone,” remarks Alvin Goh, Executive Director of Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI).

Digital transformation and communication will drive sustainable change

  • Managers are almost 2.3x more engaged than employees in non-manager roles
    • More responsibility can aid engagement. 
    • The most impactful way to influence engagement is to invest in the quality of feedback and make employees feel supported.
  • Companies will need to carefully determine the pace at which they want to transition back to a physical office. Given how well employees have adapted, their preferences should play a role in this decision. 
  • Digital (66 percent), communication (47 percent), leadership (40 percent), creativity (39 percent) and problem-solving (37 percent), are the top five in-demand skills among employees. These should serve as the baseline for upskilling investments. 

“These latest findings provide valuable insights how both new and experienced employees are coping in an increasingly virtual workspace, and its impact on work relationships and culture. It highlights the importance of new leadership skills in this environment for better collaboration and to deliver on team goals. Finally, the study provides organisations with a more holistic measure of overall health, well-being and resilience of their workforce that will better align their human capital interventions to employee performance and business outcomes,” says Mayank Parekh, CEO of Institute of HR Professionals (IHRP). 

The State of Employee Experience 2021 report can be found here

Read also: Is Employee Resilience Key to Business Success? A Discussion with Dr Natalie Baumgartner of Achievers