Singapore and KL low in work-life study

Singapore has come 32nd out of 40 cities in a study of work-life balance but higher than Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Malaysia’s capital was singled out for criticism in the 2019 Work-Life Balance Index by keyless access technology company Kisi.

The most overworked cities in the study were Tokyo, Singapore, Washington DC and Kuala Lumpur in fourth place.

Singapore ranked second for work intensity, with the number of days off, paid maternity and parental leave, and the share of staff working more than 48 hours a week, according to the US-based firm.

Top of the work-life balance list were Helsinki, Munich and Oslo with Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Buenos Aires coming bottom.

Singapore ranked 11th for gender equality and had the highest safety score. It came seventh for perceived happiness and 17th for “stress-inducing factors”, such as population density, transport and infrastructure, climate and economy.

Stress levels in Singapore will not have been helped by Donald Trump’s recent trade war with China, with the trade-dependent city-state being particularly vulnerable to the populist’s efforts to disrupt global trade.

The 40 cities selected for the study all attracted professionals and families for their opportunities and diverse lifestyle, Kisi said.

The cities were assessed on factors like gender equality, access to mental health care, safety, outdoor spaces and pollution.

The firm said it used government and NGO databases and indexes from companies like Expedia and UBS.

Singapore came near the bottom in terms of work intensity and health support, Singapore with 11th in liveability because of its safety, clean air and good “wellness” and fitness.

Staff in Washington DC and Hong Kong had the latest starting time for work at 10.30am with San Diego’s employees starting the earliest, on average before 8.10am.

The average Singaporean started work at 9.34am.

Full-time staff worked an average of almost 39 hours a week in Oslo, compared with 46 hours in Kuala Lumpur and 44.6 hours in Singapore.

Kisi said the study was a guideline “for cities to benchmark their ability to support the fulfilment of residents’ lives by improving the aspects of life that help relieve work-related stress and intensity”.

Kisi chief executive Bernhard Mehl said: “It is important for us to note that our professional and personal lives are not, and should not be, mutually exclusive.

“Despite living in an era where unprecedented advancements have been made in technology and connectivity, we have failed to address the most everyday aspect of enhancing our everyday lives — finding the balance between work and leisure.

“Whether it’s the long hours, unrealistic expectations from bosses or job insecurity, workplace stress has proven to affect our physical and mental health.  

“As long as employees are stressed, they will not take advantage of the safeguards created for their well-being — no matter how progressive government and company reforms are.”

Singaporeans will be pleased their city has been compared favourably with Kuala Lumpur. Picture credit: Wikimedia