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Feeling burned out? Half of workers in Singapore are mentally or physically exhausted by their work, survey shows

Feeling burned out? Half of workers in Singapore are mentally or physically exhausted by their work, survey shows
The results point to the growing risk of burnout among workers and a need for greater mental health support.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE — Nearly half of workers in Singapore feel exhausted after a day at work, a recent survey by health technology provider Telus Health has shown.

The survey points to the growing risk of burnout among workers and a need for greater mental health support, said the firm.

The report, which was released on June 13, showed that 47 per cent of workers in Singapore feel mentally or physically exhausted by their work.

Exhaustion is one of the three main symptoms of burnout, which is also characterised by diminished performance and cynicism, said Telus Health's director for Asia Haider Amir.

The study showed that two-thirds of workers here have at least one of these three indicators of burnout, with those under the age of 40 being three times more likely to feel extremely burnt out than workers over 50.

The same group was also nearly twice as likely as workers over 50 to find it difficult to be motivated to do their work.

Workers said the top reason for burnout was having too much work — this was cited by 27 per cent of respondents.

Other reasons include having too many personal demands (16 per cent), a lack of recognition (13 per cent) and worries about losing their jobs or lack of support for their work (9 per cent).

The data was gathered from an online survey conducted in April of 1,000 workers in Singapore, said Telus Health, adding that respondents were employed within the last six months and also representative of the population.

The company releases such reports monthly, with each examining different aspects of work, such as culture and performance, in relation to health and productivity.

Telus used the data to come up with its April iteration of its Mental Health Index, which looked at workers' attributes including work productivity, anxiety, isolation, depression, optimism, psychological health and financial risk with relation to burnout and motivation to work.

All mental health attributes, apart from anxiety and financial risk, declined from January 2024.

Launched in 2022, The index measures the current mental health status of employed adults, and is meant to help businesses and governments to gauge the need for mental health support and predict risks to cost and productivity.

While the mental health score of workers in Singapore has improved over the last two years, the average score still reflects a "highly stressed society".

The survey also showed that over two in five workers found it difficult to be motivated to do their work, with more than 26 per cent of respondents stating that this was largely because they did not feel valued.

Other reasons include distractions due to personal issues or too much change at work (both at 19 per cent), finding work boring (13 per cent) and conflict with colleagues (9 per cent).

Mr Haider said the report highlights "a pressing need for employers to prioritise mental health support".

The survey comes at a time when mental health is becoming a growing issue of concern following the Covid-19 pandemic, and a bigger priority on the national agenda.


Yet the survey showed that 52 per cent of workers reported that their workplaces did not offer mental health programmes such as free confidential counselling, coaching and well-being services to help them cope with work demands.

A quarter of workers were unsure if their employers had these programmes.

Experts agreed that the report underscores the urgent need for employers to recognise and address the mental and physical well-being of their employees.

Dr John Shepherd Lim, chief well-being officer of the Singapore Counselling Centre, said prolonged burnout that is not addressed can lead to clinical depression and anxiety disorders.

"Neglect of burnt out workers can come at a very high economic cost in terms of lost productivity and increased medical cost in the long run," he said.

PeopleWorldwide Consulting's managing director David Leong said workers find themselves exhausted because they are unable to disconnect from work after a workday.

Smartphones and an "always on" work culture pressure employees to be available and responsive after hours, he said.

"It not only impacts employees' mental and physical health but also reduces productivity, increases absenteeism, and leads to higher turnover rates," said Dr Leong.

He added that organisations should take proactive steps to create healthier work environments by regularly assessing and managing employees' workloads, offering flexible work arrangements and providing mental health support such as counselling services and wellness programmes, among other things.

Mr Paul Heng, founder and executive coach of NeXT Career Consulting Group, Asia, also urged workers to take ownership of their mental health.

Workers should not compromise their mental health over their jobs, he said, urging people not to be concerned with the stigma of mental problems and seek help.

"Seeking help does not mean that you are inadequate. It means you are wise enough to realise that you need help. Employers that look upon those who seek help in a discriminatory manner need to be brought to light, and sanctioned."


  • Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
  • Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
  • Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928

ALSO READ: Study finds childhood trauma can lead to mental health issues among young adults

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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