Improve Singaporean workplace happiness by changing perspectives

By Dr. Gan Bo (Founder and Lead Trainer at Acuteen Academy)


The recent National Workplace Happiness Survey concluded that Singaporean workers are less than happy in their occupations. With the average local working for approximately 40 years before retirement, it is a very long time to feel unsatisfied.


Of 28 factors measured in the survey, salary and benefits rank lowest while the top happiness drivers include brand identity, culture and most of all, positive emotions. This goes to show how one feels about his/her job is perhaps one of the most important ways to keep your workforce upbeat and productive.


In fact, managers can utilize emotional management perspectives and implement actions to motivate employees. With these perspective changes, the average worker can manage their emotions and perceptions to start improving their own workplace happiness


“Stress is a choice.”


It is easy to be stressed at one’s job. Managers should let employees understand that stress is voluntary and temporary. By focusing only on the negative aspects of a job, employees start a downward spiral that taints everything. Managers can help point them towards to the positives.


During peak periods, managers can place either monetary rewards for pushing through the tough times or get off in-lieu during lull periods. This is quite common in the accounting and banking industries in Singapore.


Another thing to do is to make work hassle-free. Some companies allow employees to work from home to save the commute time. Certain MNCs have work hubs situated in Jurong, Harborfront and Changi, so that their staff can occasionally opt to work away from the crowds of the CBD. Or start dress down Fridays, employees and managers alike will feel liberated from the bleakness associated with work.


“The job does not define you.”


Comedian, George Carlin, famously said, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” This rings true for most and also shows that work is a journey, not the destination.


The people who are most successful in their careers usually are known for more than what they do at work. For example, Bill Gates is synonymous with Microsoft but his true life’s work in charity. Managers should encourage their staff, to choose to engage in their passions.


For example:

Family day – set a roster for different employees to end work early every week or month so they can spend time with their families.


Sporting pursuits – Sponsor an employee’s participation in a tournament or marathon. Not only does it inspire the individual, it can be a marketing opportunity to have the company logo emblazoned on his/her kit.


Charity work – adopt a charitable cause and make it a company outing to see the good that work can bring beyond the bottom line.


A great example is Sony Electronics Group Singapore who actively promotes work-life balance – even winning the “POSB Everyday Champions for Sports Award 2010” for their efforts.


“Be the change.”


Positivity begets positivity so being more upbeat affects others. In the same vein, happy managers make happy employees, so they have lead by example.


First, the manager will have to practice what he or she preaches – i.e. leaving early on family days, wearing polo tees and jeans (instead of a power suit) on Fridays, signing up for a charity run like RUNNINGHOUR 2015: RUN SO OTHERS CAN in March ’15, etc.


Another way is to hone their emotional quotient (EQ) through emotional management courses. Managers can sharpen their ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions. By being more able to empathize with employees, managers can facilitate high levels of collaboration, productivity and happiness.


With these simple perspective changes, Singaporeans (managers and their workers) can approach their daily routine more optimistically to help them find deeper meaning in life and increase overall happiness in the workplace.