Gallup poll finds PH workers most stressed in Southeast Asia
Employees worldwide spend 81,396 hours of their lives at work, but those in the Philippines had been found to have the highest stress levels in Southeast Asia in 2021. Thailand came second on the list.
While workers everywhere, polled by analytics firm Gallup, said life at work is “not well,” those in the Philippines are among the most stressed out in the world.
This was revealed by Gallup in its “State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report,” which reached the conclusion that “stress among the world’s workers reached an all-time high—again.”
It found that in 2021, 44 per cent of employees worldwide experienced “a lot of stress the previous day,” higher than 43 per cent in 2020, 38 per cent in 2019, 37 per cent in 2018, and 29 per cent in 2017.
“Those who agreed with this item may not have been stressed about work, but they were certainly stressed at work. Inevitably, the stress workers feel impacts the workplace,” the Gallup report said.
The firm asked 68,000 workers in over 140 countries and half of 1,000 Filipinos 15 years and older who were surveyed for the report said “yes” when asked whether they experienced stress most of the day.
At 50 per cent, worker stress in the Philippines was the highest in Southeast Asia in 2021. While it was three points lower than 53 per cent in 2020, it was still higher than the global average.
Thailand also saw stress taking its toll on its workers, with 41 per cent saying they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. Likewise, in the ranking were Cambodia (38 per cent), Myanmar (37 per cent) and Vietnam (37 per cent).
The State of the Global Workplace Report, released yearly, “represents the collective voice of the global employee” regarding work engagement and even the negative emotions they experienced.
Gallup said that while 2021 saw declines in worry, sadness and anger levels, all these negative emotions, like stress, remained above pre-pandemic levels.
It stressed that 40 per cent of employees worldwide experienced “worry” last year; 23 per cent experienced “sadness,” while 21 per cent experienced “anger.” These were lower than the 41 per cent, 25 per cent, and 24 per cent in 2021.
Gallup said Filipino workers were clearly not spared from these miseries as 32 per cent said “yes” when asked whether they experienced a lot of sadness the previous day, the second-highest in Southeast Asia, next to Cambodia (41 per cent).
With 24 per cent of its employees saying they experienced a lot of anger the previous day, the Philippines was ranked third when it comes to daily anger, next to Laos (34 per cent) and Myanmar (27 per cent).
The Philippines, meanwhile, was ranked seventh in Southeast Asia when it comes to daily worry. The first on the list was Cambodia (50 per cent), while Singapore (21 per cent) had the least percentage of workers who experienced a lot of worries.
Not totally worse off
While Filipino workers’ experience of negative emotions was high, the Philippines was first in a ranking of Southeast Asian countries when it comes to employee engagement, with 31 per cent of employees saying they are engaged at work.
This, however, was one point lower than 32 per cent in 2020. Worldwide, the average employee engagement rate in 2021 was 21 per cent, while the average life evaluation rate was 33 per cent.
“Engaged employees are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They are psychological ‘owners,’ drive performance and innovation, and move the organization forward,” Gallup said.
Gallup said 29 per cent of Filipino workers were thriving in 2021, higher than the 27 per cent in 2020. It was next to Singapore (38 per cent), Thailand (36 per cent), Vietnam 35 per cent), and Malaysia (30 per cent).
When asked about the job climate, 63 per cent said “now is a good time” to find a job. The Philippines was next to Laos (71 per cent) and Cambodia (64 per cent). However, the 63 per cent was six points lower than the 70 per cent in 2020.
When it comes to respect, only four per cent of Filipino workers said that they were not treated with respect the previous day last year. Laos (30 per cent) and Myanmar (27 per cent) had the highest percentage of employees who were not treated with respect.
Best region to be an employee
Gallup said that while employees in the United States (US) and Canada were some of the most worried and stressed workers in the world last year, the region had the most engaged employees.
The region was ranked second for well-being, with over half of employees saying that they are “living comfortably” on their household income, compared with 22 per cent globally:
Australia and New Zealand: 55 per cent
US and Canada: 51 per cent
Europe: 42 per cent
Commonwealth of Independent States: 28 per cent
Latin America and the Caribbean: 20 per cent
Middle East and North Africa: 19 per cent
Southeast Asia: 15 per cent
South Asia: 15 per cent
East Asia: 13 per cent
Sub-Saharan Africa: 10 per cent
Likewise, 71 per cent of employees in the US and Canada said “now is a good time” to find a job. East Asia was ranked last, with only 27 per cent. Southeast Asia, with 40 per cent, was ranked seventh.
Gallup said that “only 45 per cent of workers globally said now is a good time to find a job in their country, slightly higher from last year, but less than the record 55 per cent in 2019.”
It stressed that both Europe and South Asia saw a five-point decline in well-being in 2021, with South Asia having the lowest well-being in the world at 11 per cent. Europe had an average of 47 per cent.
“Workers in these regions not only felt like their current life was worse than it had previously been, but their hope in the future also dropped,” Gallup said.
New workplace imperative
For Gallup, employee wellbeing is the new workplace imperative, stressing that well-being and engagement interact in powerful ways.
Employees who are engaged and thriving experience significantly less stress, anger and health problems. However, “globally, employee engagement and wellbeing remain very low, and it’s holding back enormous growth potential.”
Gallup said most employees remain disengaged at work. In fact, low engagement alone costs the global economy $7.8 trillion.
“The relationship between wellbeing and engagement is vital because how people experience work influences their lives outside work, and overall wellbeing influences life at work.”
“Organizations need to think about the whole person, not just the worker. Leaders need to add wellbeing measurements to their executive dashboards [and] prioritize employee wellbeing as part of their employer brand promise,” it said.
“When leaders take responsibility for the wellbeing of their workers, the result is not only productive organizations but thriving individuals, families and communities.”