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Watch for 'presenteeism' when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace: Intellect report

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 3 min read
Watch for 'presenteeism' when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace: Intellect report
Singapore placed fifth among 12 countries surveyed in the Workplace Wellbeing in 10 APAC Industries: Intellect Dimensions Benchmarking Report 2024. Photo: Unsplash
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A new regional report has found the Singapore workforce to be one of the top performers in work engagement, employee well-being and organisational support. 

In particular, local employees surveyed across the healthcare and pharmaceutical, government and non-profit and education industries claimed the highest scores out of 10 industries surveyed, according to data released on March 5. 

Singapore placed fifth among 12 countries surveyed in the Workplace Wellbeing in 10 APAC Industries: Intellect Dimensions Benchmarking Report 2024, conducted by regional mental healthcare company Intellect on some 50,000 respondents across the Asia Pacific last year.

With an organisational health score higher (63.98%) than the regional average (62.9%), Singapore placed below Vietnam (65.09%), Thailand (65.01%), the Philippines (64.44%) and Malaysia (64.22%).

Other markets like Taiwan (58.7%) and South Korea (58.1%) reported the lowest scores, reflecting the potential for more mental health support to be implemented across workplaces in each market. 

See also: Left school at 16, but mental healthcare start-up founder now works with Fortune 500 companies

The report aims to help companies measure the effectiveness of their well-being programmes and compare their performance in fostering workplace well-being across different industries.

Although the healthcare and pharmaceutical, government and non-profit and education industries are typically associated with high levels of stress and burnout, the report’s findings reflect a positive shift. Intellect says this was due in part to employers taking more preventive and reactive measures to care for their workforce.

See also: Singapore plans law to support gig workers’ retirement needs

However, employees in Singapore within the healthcare and pharmaceutical and education industries had slightly lower scores compared to the industry average. Hence, there remains an opportunity for mental health support across these sectors to increase and better align with regional benchmarks, says Intellect.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical employees reported a strong sense of purpose (73.8%) and the highest levels of optimism (70.3%) across industries. 

This suggests employees are intrinsically motivated, which could translate to their high levels of employee wellbeing (69.7%) and work engagement (67.7%), says Intellect.

Similarly, Government and Non-profit employees reported high levels of employee well-being (68%) and work engagement (67.4%). In comparison, the Education sector scored better in the areas of work-life balance (63.9%) and relationship building (75.3%).

The other industries surveyed are: e-commerce and online services, finance and insurance, luxury, retail and FMCG, manufacturing, professional services, real estate and hospitality and technology and telecommunications.

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Improving presenteeism

According to Intellect, “presenteeism” has been found to cost companies billions of dollars a year. The term refers to lost productivity when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace.

Employee productivity is measured by the cost of physical and mental health associated with presenteeism and absenteeism borne by organisations, with presenteeism playing a larger role in affecting productivity, says Intellect.

Sectors that scored below the industry benchmarks for organisational health scores, such as e-commerce and online services, reported high levels of presenteeism.

In the Philippines, e-commerce and online services reported the highest levels of employee productivity (74.7%), followed by Malaysia (74.4%) and Singapore (73.7%). 

Despite these seemingly positive scores, when compared to the overall benchmark across industries (76.0%), they fall slightly below average. 

Theodoric Chew, co-founder and chief executive office of Intellect, says: “The prevalence of presenteeism across the region underscores the urgent need for employers to implement targeted interventions and proactive measures. This first-of-its-kind report, which uniquely draws primary insights from 50,000 of our users, is our first step in gaining a deeper understanding into the impact of employee wellbeing programmes across industries.”

With this report, employers and human resources professionals now have access to the largest dataset of employee insights across the Asia-Pacific region, says Chew, offering “unparalleled” depth and breadth of insights into workplace well-being. “We want to empower them to make strategic and data-driven recommendations to drive tangible benefits for organisations.”

Infographics: Intellect

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