Employers take heed: Digital exhaustion among your staff is a serious concern

Employers take heed: Digital exhaustion among your staff is a serious concern

The demands of working remotely is causing a sense of displacement and undermining staff morale, with almost half of Singapore workers considering leaving their jobs.

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Many in the Singapore workforce today feel they are overworked and exhausted.

Their plight stems from a combination of factors including the stress of remote work, the continual push for higher productivity and leaders being out of touch with how they feel.

Microsoft’s first annual Work Trend Index and report entitled The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?, which uncovers hybrid work trends during the pandemic, reveals that over 49 percent of the Singapore workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.

Joanna Lim, Modern Work and Security Business Group Lead, Microsoft Singapore, said business leaders must recognise that long-held assumptions no longer hold true with their employees, and they must now make choices that will shape their businesses for the next few years. 

“Business leaders now need to dig deeper to think about shaping their culture to attract and retain talent, foster collaboration and innovation, and deliver on the extreme flexibility that employees need.”

Among the key trends highlighted from the index:

  • Flexible work is here to stay: More than 82% of workers in Singapore want flexible remote work options to stay, but 66 % are also craving more in-person time with their teams.
  • Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call: 51% of leaders say they are thriving right now – whereas only 27% of employees without decision making power say the same.
  • High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce: 58% of workers feel overworked and 49% feel exhausted, suggesting that high productivity does not equate to a healthy workforce. 

Discussing the findings in an interview with iTNews Asia, Lim said the downside of remote working is the lack of human interaction. This is preventing leaders from gauging team morale or empathising with the challenges faced by employees.

“With the absence of impromptu encounters in the office, it is now more difficult to pick up on important cues and find out how they are feeling,” she said.

“The shift to remote work has blurred the lines between work and home life – and employees may find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of waking up, clocking in, doing tasks, being in back-to-back video calls and more, and back to the same routine with little to no distinct separation between work duties and personal time.” 

Gen Z bearing the brunt

Among the worst hit are the Gen Z — those between the ages of 18 and 25 — with the index revealing that more than two-thirds (70%) saying that they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling amid the pandemic.

Lim said this group is likely to be single and early in their career amid a time of great disruption – making them more likely to feel the impact of isolation, struggle with motivation at work, and lack the financial means to create proper workplaces at home.

“Gen Z can offer fresh perspectives and challenge the status quo. Their contributions are critical, and as the first generation to enter the workforce in a completely remote environment, their experience will set expectations and attitudes toward work moving forward. Ensuring that Gen Z feels a sense of purpose and well-being is an urgent business imperative in the shift to hybrid work,” urged Lim.

Why do employees feel alienated?

With so much change upending people over the past year, Lim said employees are re-evaluating their priorities and lives. “People may discover a new calling, or there may be pent up demand or a host of pandemic-related struggles such as overwork and exhaustion.”

“In today’s hybrid work environment, more employees also are realising that their jobs could be anywhere – meaning that with the help of technology, employees can now work remotely and take on regional or global roles while based out of Singapore,” she said.

“The extension of such opportunities is also a contributing factor behind why employees are looking to change jobs.”

“Employees may find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of waking up, clocking in, doing tasks, being in back-to-back video calls and more, and back to the same routine with little to no distinct separation between work duties and personal time.”

- Joanna Lim, Modern Work and Security Business Group Lead, Microsoft Singapore.

What can employers do?

On the employer end, the Work Trend Index report indicates that business leaders in Singapore should resist the urge to see hybrid work as business as usual. Instead, they should lead with empathy, instill flexibility, and humanise work for employees.    

Lim advised leaders to prioritise people and create a plan to empower their workforce for extreme flexibility – “from defining global guidelines to team-level meeting norms to help everyone feel included and engaged, regardless of where and how they work.”

Leaders must also prioritise on rebuilding social capital and culture amid an increasingly siloed workforce, as well as rethink the employee experience to compete for the best and most diverse talent.

Lim said collaboration technologies can also help by bringing together “communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an integrated experience that empowers people and teams to be their best from anywhere.”

How does Singapore compare with the region? The 49% of Singapore workers contemplating leaving their employers are slightly higher than the 47% average for workers in Asia Pacific. The global percentage stands at 41%.

The 2021 Work Trend Index outlines findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries including Singapore, and analyses trillions of aggregate productivity and labour signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. It also includes perspectives from experts who have studied collaboration, social capital, and space design at work for decades. 

The dissatisfaction and impact on morale from remote working is a growing concern for companies and a topic iTNews Asia has been exploring recently with Medallia looking at the pandemic’s impact on the mental well-being of workers and a UiPath survey citing widespread employee dissatisfaction over repetitive tasks.

To reach the editorial team on your feedback, story ideas and pitches, contact them here.
© iTnews Asia

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