Singaporeans Sacrifice Swimwear for Suits as Expedia Study Reveals Asia has World's most Demanding Bosses

On November 20, 2012 at 05:00 AM



Expedia’s 2012 Vacation Deprivation Study Shows Almost Half of Singaporeans Find Superiors Unsupportive of Vacation Time

Singapore, 20 November 2012 - The world’s most demanding bosses are right here in Asia, as revealed by Expedia, the world’s leading online travel agency. According to Expedia’s 2012 Vacation Deprivation® survey, an annual analysis of the diverse holiday habits of travellers around the world, Singaporean bosses are in the global top 10 for their unsupportive nature towards employees taking time off for vacation.

The 2012 study spans across Asia, Australia, North America, Europe and South America, and compares vacationing habits and attitudes of over 8,500 employees across 22 countries.

This year’s Vacation Deprivation® survey has been expanded to include Taiwan and Malaysia, alongside Singapore, India, Japan and Korea, and revealed troubling vacation impediment indicators into Asia’s work-life balance struggle.

Asians are work-bound and vacation deprived

On the whole, the study showed that Asia represents the world’s most vacation-deprived region, with employees continuing to take the fewest days off and work the longest weeks.

Japanese and Koreans workers trail the field with the average Japanese worker taking only five out of the 13 days off granted each year and South Koreans take seven out of a possible 10 vacation days. Asian employees also work the longest weeks with Korean, Singaporean and Taiwanese workers clocking in a staggering average of 44 hours a week.

The study also showed thatan average of 50% of respondents in Asiawere unsure if their bosses are supportive of them taking time offwith 59% of Koreans and 54% of Taiwanese citing their head honchos an obstacle to taking a holiday while 36% of Singaporeans pointed the finger at their boss for vacation woes. At 24%, employees in India are the most fortunate workers within the region when it comes to receiving positive affirmation from their bosses for taking days off.

“Given the increasing pressures of working long hours in Asia, employees ought to fully use their well-earned vacation days to recharge and re-energise. By taking the stress out of organising vacations and offering great deals to some top holiday hotspots, we hope that Singaporeans will be encouraged to take a well earned break and connect with the world outside of the workplace instead of letting those vacation days quietly expire,” said Dan Lynn, CEO, AirAsiaExpedia.

Singaporeans punished for being hardworking

As one of the world’s most hardworking nations, Singapore has continued its trend of a poor work-life balance. Pressure from the top is one of the biggest contributing factors to Singaporeans failing to take all their annual leave, resulting in many rolling over vacation days to the following year.

The study showed that 41% of Singaporeans either cancelled or postponed their well-deserved time-off due to work commitments, and close to 19% reported they’re unable to plan their vacation in advance as it depends on their work schedule.

It is even more worrying that 11% of Singaporeans surveyed actually indicated that ‘work is life’ for themand 14% were under the impression that taking a vacation would trigger negative sentiments in the workplace.

Those fortunate enough to escape for a vacation still found themselves shackled to the office, as 80% of Singaporeans admitted to checking in on work matters while on holiday.

"With the widespread global connectivity we enjoy nowadays, it’s is not at all surprising that Singaporeans are finding it difficult to detach themselves from work. Furthermore, there might also be a decrease in perceptions of job security that has Singaporeans put in the extra hours at work, even when away on holiday,” explained Lynn.

Singaporeans are feeling the pinch

Although bosses came out top in Singaporean’s vacation woes, other indicators also played a part in a resounding overall poor work-life balance. The inability to coordinate with family also ranked high on Singaporeans’ list of vacationimpedimentsat 32%, followed by lack of planning at 21%.

However the most worrying rise from last year was the importance of money as a deciding vacation veto. Singaporeans are feeling the pinch more and more as 16% cited financial considerations as a deterrent when planning for a getaway, up 3% from 2011. 

Europeans are the leaders in vacationing

Among the countries survey, Europeans treat vacation as a duty rather than a perk. Most European workers have between 25 and 30 days of vacation time available to them each year, in addition to state and religious holidays. Workers in France and Spain report taking the full 30 vacation days off, as do their peers in Brazil. Germans take 28 of a possible 30 days off, while British, Norwegian and Swedish workers take all 25 days they’re given. The Dutch work 35 hours a week, the fewest among the 22 nations surveyed.


Harris Interactive® fielded the online survey on behalf of Expedia between September 13 and October 12, 2012 among a nationwide cross-section of 8,687 employed adults aged 16+ in 22 countries.  The data were weighted to be representative of the total adult population on the basis of region, age and gender.  In theory, with probability samples of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 1 percentage point. 


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