Singapore’s Top Executives on Business Uncertainty and Mental Wellbeing |

Stress executive
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio (Pexels)

Almost two thirds of Singapore’s top executives are eyeing a career change in the next one year as they rethink priorities, putting work-life balance at the top of their agenda and focusing more on their mental wellbeing.

Bupa Global released its latest Executive Wellbeing Index, examining the trends and challenges in wellbeing at home and work over the next 12 months. The research found that top executives globally, especially in Singapore, are planning major career changes within the next year, including moving job, reducing working hours, stopping work completely or retiring in a bid to improve their work-life balance.

In the last 12 months, 98% of Singapore’s top leaders have experienced symptoms of poor mental health with 16% finding it difficult to make decisions and 11% experiencing burnout – yet few (14%) have sought help from doctor or mental health professional for these issues.

Mounting Pressures and Business Uncertainty

Changes to Covid management policies (19%), the rising cost of living or inflation (19%) and the challenges in recruitment and retention of employees (19%), are key issues calling for a high level of concern and encompass some of the issues that are weighing on leaders’ minds.

However, it is business uncertainty that is keeping CEOs awake at night (32%). Facing a looming recession and incremental pressures from their organisation to make decisions in consideration of the rising cost of living and inflation, CEOs are expected to ensure that the organisation is taking the necessary steps to proactively recruit and retain employees while managing changes to Covid management policies. Navigating the current economic and employment environment to ensure business security and continuity is no easy feat, with a no one-size fits all solution.

Rethinking Priorities

With mounting pressures from the business, and the accompanying mental health concerns, the Bupa Global study has revealed that almost two thirds of Singapore’s CEOs (71%) are planning to make major career changes to meet their reconsidered priorities. While 14% of them intend to prioritise work-life balance, 24% plan to be more open about their mental health, and are also looking to have more time with family and friends.  

This trend is predicted to continue geographically as well with 11% of Singapore’s top executives planning to relocate out of the city or migrate to another country.

Hybrid working and the Dilemma of Productivity

Paired with the after-effects of the pandemic, the changing priorities of Singapore’s top executives have undoubtedly brought about a fundamental shift in the way we work. With hybrid working as the new norm flexible working practices seem to be at odds with business continuity and work-life balance as 41% of businesses in Singapore are facing challenges in making the hybrid working model function successfully. Only one in four (25%) said that they were supportive of the hybrid working mode.

To reduce business uncertainties, it is crucial for Singapore’s top executives to find the right mix of hybrid work arrangements. Arrangements that offer security and flexibility, while providing recognition of a job well done with greater emphasis on mental health can help with an organisation’s retention strategy, which, in turn, reduces the number of uncertainties that top executives must face.

As a priority, business leaders want to focus more on personal wellbeing in the coming year by making employee mental health and wellbeing a number one priority (48%), offering better work-life balance for all employees by managing down hours and incorporating more flexibility (22%). This also includes introducing softer benefits to support staff as inflation rises, such as paying for gym memberships, providing breakfasts, offering vouchers, and paying for subscriptions (15%).

Investing in wellbeing

The long-term impact of the pandemic both in terms of mental and physical health is yet to be fully known, and the study reveals that business leaders worldwide are recognising the benefits of private medical insurance for themselves and their people. In Singapore, top executives are expecting medical insurance plans to provide 24-hour support for overall wellbeing with available guidance via an application or social media platform as well as regular health checks.

Leading from the top about mental health in the workplace remains of high importance (23%) with top leaders intending to spend S$3.8M on average in the coming year to support employee and mental health.