Singapore workers happiest since 2009 but Work Happiness Score still pretty lackluster

By Shi Tianyun

While Singapore workers are the happiest at work since 2009, they are still in a category that puts them in the "less moderately happy" lot.

A total of 3,299 respondents took the 2012 JobsCentral Work Happiness Indicator Survey, which was conducted online from September to October this year. This survey has been conducted every year since 2009.

2012's overall average Work Happiness Indicator score of 59.8 out of 100 is a 4.1 percent increase from last year's 57.4. However, while there is an improvement, Singapore workers are still in the "less than moderately happy" category.

Another important finding that the survey revealed is salary has leapfrogged over advancement opportunities to become the most important work attribute amongst those surveyed. What is also interesting is that work-life balance has stormed up seven spots to joint-second position this year with advancement opportunities. As with previous years, doing work that makes a positive impact to society is the least important work attribute to Singapore workers.

It must be pointed out that both advancement opportunities and salary scored the lowest in terms of satisfaction level.

"The labour market in Singapore has remained tight and worker mobility is still high. This means that people have choices when it comes to jobs and if they are unhappy with their current ones, they would simply get new jobs. We have also seen wage pressures across all sectors and workers are getting higher salaries, which is always an important factor for work happiness," says Lim Der Shing, CEO of JobsCentral Group.

"The current Work Happiness score still points to a less than moderate happiness level. As such, in addition to compensation adjustments, employers who wish to improve worker morale should address the other two most important happiness influencers which are Work-life Balance and Career Advancement," advises Mr Lim.

"Work-life balance is clearly a major concern of workers in Singapore. Employers should have in place work-life balance friendly policies that prevents excessive or unnecessary over-time and which respects an employee's personal time and space. A happy workforce ultimately adds to the bottom line as happy workers are more productive and stay longer at their jobs."

"The desire for career advancement is close to every worker's heart. Employers should map out detailed career paths and progression expectations. These should be communicated regularly to all staff with staff buy-in on goal setting, benchmarks and KPIs. The bottom line is that people want to see progression and know what they are aiming for. So if you want to retain and motivate your workforce, you have to provide a clear plan and direction for advancement," says Mr Lim.

Editorial practitioners are the unhappiest workers

Workers in the editorial/translation line of work have the lowest Work Happiness Indicator score of 54.2. The top five job functions with the unhappiest workers in Singapore are:

1. Editorial/Translation

2. Merchandising/Purchasing

3. Administrative

4. Finance

5. Customer Support

High salary but not necessarily happy

Money can't buy you happiness for this particular group – those that earn a gross monthly salary between $9,000 and $9,999 had the lowest Work Happiness Indicator score of 56.2. The happiest workers belong to those who earn between $8,000 and $8,999 with a 68.2 Work Happiness Indicator score.

Males happier than females

The Work Happiness indicator score increased by 5.8% to 61 this year for male workers, while their female counterparts were also happier at 58.7 points but this increase was a modest 2.8%.

Download a copy of the 2012 Work Happiness Indicator Report for free here.

The JobsCentral Group, a CareerBuilder company, is the owner of JobsCentral.com.sg, one of Singapore's largest job and learning portals. Get a free career personality test and more career- and education-related articles at JobsCentral and JobsCentral Community. Alternatively, Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter for more career-centric content!

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