Two-thirds of employees in Singapore would prefer flexibility over a four-day workweek

As the idea of a four-day workweek continues to gain traction across Singapore, new Qualtrics research shows that almost two-thirds of full-time employees in the country (64%) would prefer the flexibility to work whenever they want over one fewer day at work (36%). Flexibility is also a bigger driver of retention (66%) than a four-day work week (50%).

With organizations continuing to refine ways of working after two years of working remotely, the Qualtrics findings highlight the importance of understanding employee needs to successfully align the programs being adopted with their needs and expectations.

The findings are also timely given the statement by the tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore, National Employers Federation, and National Trades Union Congress – calling for flexible work arrangements to be made permanent.

A third of employees in Singapore (33%) say flexibility is having control of the hours they want to work, while others define it as having the ability to work from any location (26%) or choosing the days they work (19%).

Employees support a four-day work week but have concerns while the majority of employees have a preference for flexibility if, given the choice, 87% of respondents are open to supporting their employer in implementing a four-day workweek – predominantly citing improvements to their health and wellbeing as the reasons for doing so.

The majority of respondents believe a four-day work week could improve work-life balance (89%) and mental health (86%), would make them feel more loyal to their employer (87%), and increase productivity (86%).

Despite the various four-day work week pilot programs delivering proven benefits – such as improvements to wellbeing and increases in productivity – many respondents believe there would be trade-offs for a four-day work week. Three-quarters (78%) say they expect to work longer hours, while 62% say their customers would be frustrated, and 55% say company performance would suffer.

Measuring performance and wellbeing in new work models. As employers navigate this shifting landscape, two key drivers of success for the new ways of working being implemented are prioritizing health and wellbeing and ensuring employees are enabled to succeed in both physical and remote environments.

This is in response to 70% of respondents revealing their job is the main source of mental health challenges, with similar volumes of respondents saying working remotely has had a positive (24%) and negative (22%) impact on their mental health. Respondents also felt working flexible hours would influence their growth and development, with 70% believing it would negatively impact their career advancement.

The combination of these findings highlights the importance of understanding employee needs and enabling employers to take targeted action that ensures no one gets left behind.

One potential solution to the challenges posed by new working models is having employee performances measured by results rather than hours and days worked, with 89% of respondents supportive of this approach. In particular, respondents tout increased efficiency, focus, and recognition as the top reasons for doing so, while 40% expect to work fewer hours.

An overwhelming majority of respondents also welcome their employer offering paid mental health days, with 94% saying they would be a good long-term solution to ensuring good mental health.

For organizations rethinking traditional ways of working, Qualtrics findings reveal the impact of the changes being considered and implemented. Being proactive to understand how employees want to work – and the subsequent impact – will enable employers to make informed decisions ensuring the new ways of working adopted align with the varied needs of the entire workforce. This will help solve problems, such as current health and wellbeing challenges, at the root cause.

“Among the buzz surrounding new working models, employers must not lose sight of the fact that what employees really want and have come accustomed to is the flexibility to adjust their work schedules to fit the demands of their lives ,” said Lauren Huntington, Employee Experience Solution Strategist – Southeast Asia, Qualtrics. “Increasingly, we’re seeing people make career decisions and find fulfillment in their jobs by working for organizations that truly understand and respond to their needs, and where they feel they belong. That’s why the most important part of any working model isn’t simply the hours or days worked – it’s being able to understand and meaningfully deliver what people want and expect to ensure everyone benefits from the transformations underway.”

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