Hongkongers are more overworked and unhappy in their jobs than most of their Asia-Pacific peers, survey finds

·3-min read

Hong Kong has one of the most miserable workforces in the region, with almost three quarters of employees unhappy in their jobs, according to a new survey.

Hongkongers also put in more hours than most of their regional peers, the study by the The Instant Group, a co-working company, found.

They spend an average of 41 hours at work every week, the third-highest in Asia-Pacific, and have annual leave of just seven days. Only 28 per cent of employees based in the city said they were happy at work, making them the third-most dissatisfied workforce in the region.

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Singaporeans were found to be the most overworked, clocking in 45 hours a week and enjoying only seven days of annual leave. They were the second-most downcast employees, with just 27 per cent finding happiness in the workplace.

Mainland Chinese employees had the second-highest workload in the region, typically notching up 42 hours a week and having just five days of annual average leave entitlement. Only 31 per cent of them claimed to be happy employees.

South Koreans, despite working shorter hours at 38 per week and enjoying 15 days of annual leave, were the most dejected, with only 21 per cent of workers saying they were happy.

The Instant Group, a UK-based flexible working solutions provider, compared the working hours, holiday entitlement and workplace happiness of people in 10 markets across the Asia-Pacific region.

The study is significant in light of recent findings by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization that longer working hours had increased mortality rates in Asia-Pacific by 29 per cent between 2000 and 2016

“Being overworked compromises work-life balance and can be demotivating, but it’s also dangerous,” the study by The Instant Group said. “A reoccurring trend in our data showed that the higher the weekly working hours, the lower percentage of happy workers. With the added pressure of low annual leave entitlement – overworking can quickly become unhealthy.”

Countries in Asia-Pacific tend to lag behind when it comes to laws protecting workers.

Some countries in Europe have passed legislation to cut working hours, including France which has a 35-hour working week. Workers in Belgium are entitled to work a four-day week, and both Iceland and Spain have been experimenting with reduced working hours.

In what is deemed the world’s largest experiment involving shorter working hours, some 70 companies in the UK with more than 3,300 workers between them started trialling a four-day week on Monday.

The pilot will run for six months, and workers will still take home all of their pay, but with a commitment that they will keep 100 per cent of productivity.

Last month, a separate study by Randstad Hong Kong revealed that for the first time in its 10 year-history, a work-life balance trumped salary and benefits as the most attractive factor for jobseekers and employees in the city.

The perceived importance of a healthy compensation package dipped 2 percentage points to 60.2 per cent from a year ago, while that of ‘work-life balance’ stood at 60.4 per cent of the respondents.

Randstad, a human resources consultancy, conducted the online survey in January, garnering the preferences of more than 3,000 respondents in Hong Kong.

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