By Joanna Lim, Modern Work, and Security Business Group Lead, Microsoft Singapore
Microsoft’s first annual Work Trend Index revealed that over 49 percent of the Singapore workforce was considering leaving their employer for reasons such as leaders being out of touch with how employees are faring, needs for continued flexible remote work, and high productivity masking an exhausted workforce. Together with news about nearly a quarter (one in four) employees intending to leave their current employer in the next six months, the findings make you wonder if the global phenomenon called the “Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle” has also settled down in Singapore.
The Work Trend Index report highlighted that business leaders in Singapore should resist the urge to see hybrid work like business as usual. As companies make the return to work, they are increasingly maintaining hybrid working arrangements to suit business needs, focusing on culture, well-being and extreme flexibility, while leading with empathy.
For people like you and me to be our best selves at work, it all boils down to leaders understanding the multi-generational perspective through voices from the ground and enabling everyone to be their most authentic selves while doing their best work. This will help address talent retention, foster collaboration and ignite innovation.
A pulse on employees’ well-being at work, during the pandemic
We wanted to give a voice to those on the ground, so we interviewed multiple generations of the Singapore workforce to find out how they were feeling, and what they think can be done to help them improve well-being at work. They represented SMEs and large organizations across a range of industries, including the public sector and media.
Here’s what we found out.
Well-being issues are a real problem, and not everyone knows how to fix it
The majority feel that unrealistic expectations of work-life balance have led employees to experience high levels of stress. While some have learned to draw a line between personal life and work, most feel their mental health has also been negatively affected by the pandemic.
I feel there’s definitely a lot more organizations can do in terms of mental well-being, as it’s not talked about much. Providing useful resources to employees who may be feeling anxious at work or even isolated due to remote working would be very helpful,” says Natasha Teh, Manager, who was interviewed for the Opinions video.
Ferhana Ashiblie, Senior Bid Manager, Regional, Asia at Marsh, who was featured in the Opinions video also shared her experience. “Due to the pandemic, I recently went through a mental breakdown and forced myself to keep going despite the pressure. It was only after I put a stop to it and told myself ‘If I keep doing this, I’m a machine’. I then set aside personal time for activities like yoga to help disconnect. It was only then that I truly felt a change in my well-being at work.”
Technology is a game-changer when it comes to improving well-being at work
Most of the workforce interviewed felt that collaboration and events platforms helped them continue working remotely, whether it was for information dissemination, researching tasks at work or identifying the right person to speak with.
“Technology is life-changing when it comes to playing a role in helping us work and collaborate remotely. Working with teams across the company has become much easier with the use of technology tools as I can easily message my team members and leave comments on working decks in real-time”, says Joshua Cheong, Commercial Account Executive, SEA at Asana, an interviewee of the Opinions video. While those working in SMEs didn’t see the need for an employee portal, they did express a preference for avenues to speak up and share how they feel.
How can we help improve well-being at work?
Improving well-being at work is both an individual and a team sport, where everyone has a part to play rather than it being a one-off initiative led by the leader of an organization. Here, culture is at the heart of everything that contributes towards achieving better well-being at work. At Microsoft, we believe in addressing this challenge by adopting an approach to people, space and technology.
- Lead with empathy: Culture starts from the top of every organization, and leaders must be exemplary practitioners of empathy. Through leading by example, they make it easier for the rest of the employees to also prioritize well-being.
- Own your boundaries: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to well-being as everyone is different. We must define our boundaries based on what we can and can’t do—and own them. This means being clear about what time you start work, deciding when to take breaks, and communicating your needs and commitments to your team members and managers. When we all own and respect boundaries, we create a culture of mutual support that promotes everyone’s well-being at work.
- Create a safe space to promote well-being at work: Much like their employees, employers are now looking to technology to be more proactive about mental health and well-being at work rather than operate on a reactive basis. At Microsoft Singapore, we use Cortana in Outlook to create automated meetings during free time in our schedules to ensure we get regular breaks during work. We also use features like Focus time to improve work-life balance and Headspace from Microsoft Teams to practice mindfulness. Beyond technology, our leadership team also committed to no-meeting Mondays and dedicated days on the first Friday of each month where employees can create space and set aside time to learn something new or simply spend time with loved ones.
- Incorporate Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) practices in the workplace: “Most employers overlook the role of D&I in improving the well-being of employees. It’s not just a “nice to have,” but a responsibility of everyone in the organization”, says Lynn Dang, Human Resource Lead, Microsoft Singapore. As we work towards creating a culture of positive well-being, leaders and employees must be allies to each other and be intentional in supporting each other with empathy.
- Leverage technology and tools to provide support: While technology can exacerbate mental health, it can also be used to engage in better self-care. ”Providing holistic and positive employee experiences with extreme flexibility is crucial in ensuring employees are at their best, most authentic selves, and able to put their best foot forward at work and in life”, shares Lynn Dang, Human Resource Lead, Microsoft Singapore.
It is crucial to ensure that people use technology in the right way and for whatever they need. To help employers create a culture of well-being while giving employees a stake in their well-being, we created Microsoft Viva, which helps employees transform their own experiences and manage their well-being and personal and professional learning and development for success.
For example, one of our customers, Music Tribe, saw 40% of their employees actively engaged in learning content within a month of launching Microsoft Viva.
Through a holistic view on people, space and technology, we believe that everyone can shape a healthy culture and bring their most authentic and best selves to work, as they empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Find out how you can evolve your employee experience for the digital age with Microsoft Viva – register for our on-demand webinar here.