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News Reports

Under Happy workers

I was reading ST yesterday and saw this headline on Page 2: Singaporeans “feeling confident over jobs, personal finances’’. It was conducted by Nielson to gauge consumer confidence globally. ST continued to rah-rah the news adding that the survey threshold indicating optimism “crossed for the first time since 2011’’. So what’s the survey about? Nielsen surveys sentiments every quarter, some 30,000 online consumers from 60 countries. From Singapore are 515 respondents. The latest result is that 61 per cent of Singaporeans now feel the future job prospects are “positive’’, up from 53 per cent last quarter. Also, 59 per cent felt their personal finances for the comin year were good or excellent, up from 55 per cent.

I suppose that’s a significant rise although I’m not sure we should be putting much significance by quarter-in-quarter sentiments should we? It might be more useful to compare consumer sentiments country by country. And there I was thinking that Singapore is in quite a happy position until I read in TODAY another survey, this time by the Singapore Human Resources Institute on workplace happiness. It’s to become a benchmark for future surveys. Number of respondents: 5,600 workers here who were given some statements to refer to such as “I have a bright future at work’’. See

Here’s the rub: The factors of hope, salary and benefits, and culture were ranked most poorly, with scores of 48, 47 and 42, respectively — which fall in the “Unhappy” band which is below 50 points. Self-efficacy, resilience and interpersonal relations were at the other happy end, above 70 points.

Other findings showed that the baby boomers were happier at work compared to younger people; as well as those who work in the social service or voluntary sectors and local SMEs compared to those who work in MNCs.

Now the strange thing is this, according to institute’s calculations, a score of 68 and above is in the Happy band. Between 51 and 67 is Under Happy (yup, Under Happy is the term) and 50 and below is Unhappy. Going by the survey statistics that TODAY published, no worker in Singapore is happy at all! Even the “happiest’’ industry which is the charity and social services sector scored just 64.3.  We are all Under Happy…

I know both surveys are different but I am getting my fill of surveys on whether we are happy people or not. I blame the Gallop poll for starting it all.They tell different stories based on the questions asked and we wouldn’t have a clue of which is the more authoritative one. A lot depends on how the media views the survey results or what the various survey organisers choose to highlight.

TODAY asked an academic whether the recent spate of surveys depicting a less-than-happy Singapore was worrying. Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser sort of hemmed and hawed. He said: “We shouldn’t depend on one survey to tell us what the situation is in Singapore. Results show we’re neither up there nor at the bottom. They sound quite plausible but we need to look at other surveys … Having said that, maybe this is a reflection of the fact that we’re stressed and need to do a lot of balancing of family and work.”

In other words, surveys just tell us what we already know…

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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