Asian Employees: Don’t Confuse Flexibility with 4-Day Workweeks

Image credit: iStockphoto/Love portrait and love the world

Mental health, flexibility, and other personal priorities remain top considerations for employees seeking jobs that match their needs. Qualtrics, an experience management software provider, conducted a study across a range of industries in Singapore that showed how the future of work and employee experience has changed and that companies must rethink how they work. 

As more employees become interested in the four-day workweek, the new Qualtrics research found that almost two-thirds of full-time employees in Singapore (64%) prefer flexibility over fewer days at work. Moreover, Singaporean employees were more likely to stay with their employers if they had a flexible work schedule (66%) than a four-day work week (50%).

According to the survey, 33% of employees in Singapore said flexibility is having control of the hours they want to work. In comparison, 26% defined it as having the ability to work from any location, and 19% considered it as being able to choose the days they work.

The benefits and trade-offs of a four-day work week

While the majority of Singaporean employees would prefer to have more flexibility in their work schedules, 87% of respondents were open to supporting their employers in implementing a four-day workweek. More than eight in 10 respondents believed a four-day work week could improve work-life balance (895), increase productivity (86%) and employee loyalty (87%), and improve mental health (86%).

Despite the many benefits of a four-day work week, many respondents believed there would be trade-offs to implementing such a schedule. According to three-quarters (78%) of respondents, companies will be forced to implement longer work hours in a four-day work week schedule. Two-thirds (62%) believed customers would be frustrated by longer wait times, and a half (55%) believed that performance would suffer in their organizations.

How employers should approach new work models

Respondents said that employers must provide technology that supports health and wellness and healthy work environments to succeed in a world where employees are increasingly working in nontraditional ways.

The new Qualtrics study also showed that 70% of Singaporean respondents cite their job as a significant source of mental health challenges. In comparison, 24% said working remotely had a positive impact, and 22% reported it harmed their mental health.

Respondents to the survey felt that flexible hours would influence their growth and development, with 70% believing it would negatively impact their career advancement. 

Other ways to drive flexibility

According to the study, a possible solution to the challenges posed by new working models is to measure employees' performances by results rather than hours and days worked, a practice that 89% of respondents support. Respondents cited increased efficiency, focus, and recognition as the top reasons for supporting a results-based evaluation. 40% expect to work fewer hours if work performance was based on outputs or results.

In addition to protecting the physical health of employees, many workers also consider employers' initiatives to promote good mental health among workers to be positive. An overwhelming majority of respondents welcome their employers offering paid mental health days, with 94% saying such days would be an excellent long-term solution for ensuring employee mental health.

“Among the buzz surrounding new working models, employers must not lose sight of the fact that what employees 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 for Qualtrics Southeast Asia.

Image credit: iStockphoto/Love portrait and love the world