An 'under happy' lot

Yet another work attitude survey has shown up the simmering discontent of many Singapore workers. They have been tagged "under happy" in a workplace study by the Singapore Human Resources Institute and consulting firm Align Group. The workforce here was deemed the second most dissatisfied in the Asia-Pacific region by global recruitment firm Randstad earlier this year - with 54 per cent reporting they were unhappy at work, far removed from the 80 per cent in India holding "the perfect job".

While the nation's competitive edge is weakened when about half the workforce is not highly motivated, what is truly "under happy" is the personal deprivation when an individual sees his or her job in overly self-centred and materialistic terms. A job takes up so much of one's waking hours that it's a crying shame when it is viewed as just a way to make a living and nothing more - as it is to three-quarters of workers, according to the Randstad study.

By implication, there appears to be a deficiency in the zest for tackling challenges, learning, excelling, and developing a web of relationships. A subterranean loss is the possible extension of that disengagement to other aspects of one's life, as research firm Gallup posited. Clock watchers tend to be downbeat about social spheres, too, whereas engaged workers are more optimistic in general and ready to work for desired outcomes.

Of course, employers can play a part in kindling enthusiasm by shaping job roles that are interesting, purposeful and offer growth opportunities. But while looking at what a job has to offer, it is also critical for individuals to bring something to the job. It is telling that even first-time job seekers tend to harp on work-life balance - as important as that is - when exciting opportunities beckon in a globalised market. Often, all it takes to be happy is the spirit of carpe diem.