Most Singaporeans still willing to work overtime for higher pay: Randstad

SINGAPORE - Nearly half, or 47 per cent, of Singaporean workers worked more than the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) stipulated limit of 44 hours per week, a survey by recruitment firm Randstad has revealed.

However, 47 per cent of respondents also stated that they were happy with their current work schedules, with just 7 per cent saying that they would prefer to work less.

These insights were revealed in research conducted for the Randstad Award 2016, which is based on a worldwide independent survey on employer branding. 5,000 employees and job seekers between 18 and 65 were surveyed in Singapore.

According to the survey, more than half of all male workers (52 per cent) said that they worked more than 44 hours a week, compared to a slightly lower 41 per cent of women.

The prospect of making more money is the primary motivational aspect for employees in Singapore to work overtime, with 80 per cent of survey respondents identifying it as a major factor. 41 per cent of workers also identified career progression and 33 per cent cited personal development as factors that motivated them to work more.

On the other hand, most of those hoping to work fewer hours wanted to have more free time to chase personal endeavours (67 per cent) and a healthier work-life balance (66 per cent). 40 per cent also said they wanted to spend more time with their children.

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But even though many have continued to work overtime, the survey also highlighted the growing importance of work-life balance amongst Singapore employees.

It is now the second most important factor for workers when choosing an employer, with 57 per cent of respondents stating that it was important. This is an increase from just 32 per cent who thought it was important in 2012.

As a result, more and more Singaporeans are also placing importance on flexible work schedules and telecommuting. Millennials aged between 18 and 24 in particular had the strongest preference for flexi-work schedules, with 71 per cent opting for such arrangements.

Salary and employee benefits remain the most important factor that determines the attractiveness of an employer.

Ms Jaya Dass, the country director of Randstad Singapore, said the results showed that despite the growing importance of work-life balance, Singaporeans are still willing to sacrifice it for better pay and career progression.

"This could be representative of the current uncertain economic environment leading to employees wanting to work even harder than before," she suggested.

2015 saw total employment growth fall to a 12-year low, while 14,400 workers were retrenched, the highest number since 2009.

But Ms Dass said that she expected the willingness to work overtime to diminish when the global and local economy returned to a more bullish outlook.

Last year, another study by global workplace provider Regus Singapore found that the majority of workers still saw a need to improve employee work-life balance in Singapore.