The pandemic has added to workplace stress and burnout for many employees in Singapore, with more than half (55%) citing everyday stress, compared to 51% in Asia.
In times as challenging as a pandemic, employers and organisations have a crucial part to play in supporting employees' needs. Yet, in a recent survey by Mercer Marsh Benefits, 56% of employees in Singapore reported that they did not receive strong support from their employers. Compared to the 51% of workers globally and 46% in Asia who indicated the same, Singapore fared below global benchmarks in lending support to employees during the pandemic.
This could pose a problem for many local organisations as employees who feel supported and cared for during the pandemic are significantly more energised and less likely to want to leave their job, the survey noted.
Mercer Marsh Benefits' Health on Demand Survey, of over 14,000 employees1, took a look at what employees want when it comes to their health and wellbeing. As indicated by respondents, the most valued form of support was flexible working.
Additionally, the pandemic has only added to workplace stress and even burnout for many employees in Singapore. In particular, more than half (55%) of Singapore employees reported experiencing everyday stress, which was higher than the 50% across the globe and 51% in Asia. Further, almost one-fifth (16%) of employees reported feeling lonelier and more isolated during the pandemic, and close to one-third (26%) said they were financially worse off than the previous year.
While mental health issues are seemingly more common, only 10% of Singapore employees indicated that they felt comfortable discussing mental health challenges with family, friends, and healthcare professionals. This was lower than the global and Asia average of 19%.
Fortunately, Singapore employees are slowly warming up to the idea of sourcing help for their mental health, though finding access is still a significant hurdle. At 44%, less than half of employees have access to mental health counselling services, compared to 52% globally and 54% in Asia. Similarly, (42%) found it difficult to access quality mental healthcare, including counselling, therapy or medication.
As such, employers need to step up to the challenge and start doing so. For many employees in Singapore, having employer support when it mattered the most played a critical role in shaping their work experience and the way they responded to work. In fact, more than half (51%) of employees who reported experiencing good support, said that their employer cared for their health and wellbeing, which in turn boosted employee loyalty, and left many feeling significantly more energised. 33% of employees who did receive good support were less likely to leave their job as a result, in comparison to the 15% of employees sharing the same sentiment who experienced a lack of support.
What's missing in employer support?
While most employees have access to the usual benefits such as medical coverage and dental care, the survey identified two critical gaps:
- Two-thirds (67%) of Singapore workers do not have access to lifestyle modification support, such as for pregnant mothers or those battling chronic health issues. This was the highest in Asia.
- Additionally, more than half lack access to mental health counselling services (56%) and vision care benefits (57%).
Despite the rise in adoption of digital health solutions on the back of the COVID-19 crisis, only one in 10 said their employer provided them with virtual healthcare benefits during the pandemic. Almost half (43%) of Singapore employees admitted that they have never used telemedicine or other digital health solutions, even during the pandemic. For comparison, this was 21% higher than Asia and 16% higher than the global average.
With more healthcare services being digitalised for efficiency, Singapore employers are therefore being urged to keep up. Compared to the previous year’s survey, more employees now see digital health innovations as valuable to them and their families. An astonishing nine in 10 employees want to use apps and devices to take more personal control of their health when it comes to self-managing health conditions. Similarly, 93% of workers value apps that alert them when they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. To start implementing these, employers play a critical role in driving the adoption of these innovations to improve care access, affordability, and quality.
Looking deeper into the pandemic's impact on men and women, the survey noted that women who bear the heavy responsibility of caring for their children and families were significantly impacted. Yet, very few reported receiving “very good” support from their employer during the pandemic – only 10% of women said so, half that of men (20%).
The difference in sentiment between the genders also extends to the benefits, with men receiving more than women. For example, just 22% of women had access to mental health counselling services through their employers, compared to 30% of men. At the same time, 21% of women have access to personal accident insurance, lower than the 30% of men.
1Spanning across 13 countries, of which over 1,000 respondents were from Singapore.