Sleepless in Singapore

According to recent workplace surveys in Singapore, increasing workload and high expectations from line managers are often cited job stressors.

Empirical research provides further support.  A 1989-1990 study on 2570 Singapore professionals found that performance pressure and work-family conflict to be primary stressors for the sample comprising GPs, lawyers, engineers, teachers, nurses, and life insurance personnel (Chan, Lai, Ko, & Boey, 2000). Both stressors predicted participants’ level of job stress, while these and poor job prospects predicted the level of job satisfaction reported by participants.

A 1999 report on 257 study participants in Singapore identifies work demands, relationships with others, career concerns, systems maintenance, role ambiguity and administrative tasks to be key stressors in the IT profession (Lim & Teo, 1999). An earlier report documented a reliable association between occupational stress and anxiety- depression in a local sample of 1,043 nurses (Boey, Chan, Ko, Goh, & Lim, 1997).

In a recent book chapter in “Work Stress and Coping Among Professionals”, Ko, Chan, & Lai (2007) reported empirical data for a 1990 study on 316 Singapore secondary school and junior college teachers. Teachers in this study rated deadlines, work overload from meetings and coordination work, lack of student motivation, and resultant student misbehaviour as stressful. Difficulty in balancing work and family life was another source of stress. Factor analysis however revealed work overload to be the primary stressor for this local sample.

A more recent investigation of job stress among local employees includes a study of 164 school teachers by (Fang & Wang, 2005; 2006). Although the study measured turnover intention – teachers indicating an intention to leave their job – rather than observed staff turnover rate, occupational stress levels in addition to employees’ statements about their sense of commitment to their institution and profession, were reliable predictors of the outcome measure.

In their review of the literature, Lim, Bogossian, & Ahern (2010) document high work demands (and conflict at work) to be a major stressor for nurses. Fang’s (2001) study on 180 local nurses further reports satisfaction with supervisors (among other factors) a contributing factor to whether nurses express an intention to leave their job.

As mentioned in a previous post, work overload, as well as role ambiguity and co-worker relationships, is a primary stressor across different sectors – banking, finance, and insurance (Ho, 1995). Not surprising then, that work overload and job stress are theme songs in recent polls (e.g., JobCentral, VMWare New Way of Life).

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