National Work-Life Harmony Study shows need for reimagined approach

Photo by William Fortunato

EngageRocket, in partnership with NTUC U WAF, released results from a survey conducted amongst 3,332 employees in Singapore across 10 industries. The survey focused on the state of work-life harmony in workplaces in Singapore. 

The definition of work-life balance has changed in the last two years, as the lines between work and personal hours blurred. In 2022, there is greater work-life permeability than ever before, especially with the rise of hybrid working. This necessitates a reimagined approach that advocates for better integration, better balance, and healthier boundaries — i.e., Work-Life Harmony (WLH).

“This survey conducted by EngageRocket was part of our tripartite-level efforts for employers to assess and review their work-life harmony practices to meet the needs of employees. As we believe such practices will benefit both women and men, and ultimately the organisations they belong to, NTUC will continue our efforts to enhance work-life harmony for all” said Ms Yeo Wan Ling, Director of U SME and U WAF, NTUC.

“Through the pandemic, we have been forced to rethink the working experience and what it means to be at work. More importantly, we have had to put theory into practice, and learn from the experience. What we have found about working and leading remote and hybrid teams, the impact on our ways of work, and even our personal well-being and mental health will impact the employee experience in profound ways over the next few years,” said Chee Tung Leong, Co-founder at EngageRocket. 

Highlights from the study include: 

Work-Life Harmony is directly correlated to employee engagement

Overall, 61% of survey respondents have a high awareness of work-life harmony but are unsure of what it entails.

Those who have managed to achieve greater degrees of harmony are more engaged. 32% of employees with high work-life harmony satisfaction are engaged and willing to recommend their workplace to others. This is true for only 3% of those with lower levels of work-life harmony satisfaction.

One Work-Life Harmony strategy does not fit all  

Millennials and Gen X are more likely to be dissatisfied with their work-life harmony compared to Boomers (15% and 13% vs 8%)

78% of employees feel burnt out at work. Gen X are at the highest risk of burnout (83%), followed by women and caregivers (80%)

Adoption for Work-Life Harmony strategies is lagging 

Employee support schemes have the highest impact on work-life harmony – but are adopted the least. Enhanced leave provisions & flexible work arrangements also have positive impacts

Organisations need to establish and exhibit healthy boundaries at work

61% said that leave benefits are crucial for work-life harmony, followed by family-related support, flexiwork (56%), management support (55%), and scheme communication (43%). 

Over 80% of employees report to work even when they are unwell, with “no one to cover” and “too much work” being the top driving factors

There are considerable challenges to overcome to achieve greater work-life harmony

It is difficult to draw work-life boundaries for 31% of employees with 17% indicating that the very nature of their work does not allow them to work from home.

Meanwhile, 13% are held back by the lack of the right hardware and 3% by software, 9% are distracted by people around them and 7% by a noisy environment and 7% report an absence of supervisor support 

Going forward, organisations may need to cater to their workforce’s work-life harmony in a tailored manner, which brings about the need for accurate and scientifically proven ways to collect employee feedback.

After which, actions must be taken if employers wish to improve work-life harmony at their workplaces. Ultimately, for this to happen, managers must be empowered to convert insights into action to overcome the challenges and help employees achieve better work-life harmony.

The National Work-Life Harmony Study was conducted in March 2022, based on a survey of more than 3,300 respondents across 10 industries.