Do you like your day job?

Five years ago, I was rather unhappy with my day job. Social psychologists would have diagnosed me as being disengaged. My growing disengagement resulted in me quitting.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Quitting and retiring from my corporate duties at that stage in my life was actually one of the better decisions I made so far.

But recently I came across this sobering chart:

Low Employee Engagement is a crisis for any business.

This made me think.  Why have I been so disengaged and why are so many employees in Singapore disengaged too?

While there is so much focus and attention on driving higher productivity across the Singapore workplaces, I do not see too much effort being put into working on the root-cause of all higher productivity – the employees themselves.  Employees are THE KEY drivers for business success.  I would even go so far as to say that there is nothing more important for an organization than full engagement. Because engagement leads to “Better Earnings and Fatter Margins”.  As an investor I certainly would prefer to invest in a company that is having a higher employee engagement score than its competitors.

Then why are companies in Singapore doing such a lousy job in engaging their people?

So, I started to dig deeper to read up more on Employee Engagement Theories.

Apparently in this Age of Purpose and Employee Experiences, there is a multitude of factors either boosting or deflating employee engagement levels.


Let me attempt to funnel all those factors into one Employee-Engagement-Booster Formula:

So simple, right?

Wrong, because half of the equation is how the company could increase the employee’s engagement.

The other half is pertaining to how you and me could increase our own engagement.  It obviously takes two to tango.

Let’s add to the formula the most important factor in employee engagement – the person who is doing the actual work.

YOU and ME.

Wherever we may be located within the company. We do have the opportunity to take responsibility for our own life and to do our best to build our own engagement – regardless of what our company is doing.

It is always our choice.

Here WE go:

So far, so good. Let’s not stop there. Let’s make our engagement long lasting:

Revisiting the above components of the formula reveals that most of them are to a lesser degree based on extrinsic rewards (those nice monetary bananas called higher pay and bonuses) but more on intrinsic motivational factors, like those psychological rewards that we get from doing meaningful work and performing it well. Those rewards that create a warm fuzzy feeling close to our heart, resulting in an emotional commitment to our company and its goals.

So, are you fully engaged at work or are you like me five years back solely waiting for your employer to motivate and engage you?  

They say the measure of one’s life, according to many philosophies, whether religious or not, is how you treat other people while you are on this planet.  I guess, none of those creeds includes the opt-out clause ‘except when you’re at work’.

Remember, no one enjoys hating his/her job.

Do something about it.

TACOMOB and change.

Sure, not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is necessarily a change.

You are the master of your attitude and the sole decision maker to step out of your comfort zone.

Take control.


I am curious to hear your views on this subject affecting most of your waking hours. Chime in in the comments section below.


  1. Silly investor


    It was my first day back in school after a 4 months hiatus. My take is: Just do it. To quote Philip Yeo. Easier to Seek forgiveness than seek approval.

    I am not him, won’t cross red-line. But u will just do what what I want until explicitly told to stop

    • Hi SI,
      Great attitude. Not everyone is as courageous as you are. Not everyone is prepared to live with all the consequences whatever they might be. If you can, then you have achieved a high level of freedom already. Congrats.

      • Silly investor

        Hi Andy,

        Thanks for making me feel better in the wee hours of morning.

        I do think my job beside providing me the dough to bring home, allow me to be “willful”at times. I know I live in “sheltered and shielded” environment compared to many other there. So I must really count my blessings.

        At least competition is not “dog eat dog” and it’s ok to step aside graciousfully with minimum hit on pay matters. Ego is another thing just to be managed.

        Just curious. What exactly is your push factors? Time, meaningfulness of work?
        Or it’s just that pull factor is too attractive

      • Good question. My push factors are a good purpose, to share my experience with a startup team, to prove myself, and that bit of boredom that I felt two years back before starting work with that startup and founding my own company.

  2. Hi Andy,

    This article comes in good time. I just had an disagreement with my boss where she insisted that it is due to my mistake which led to Head Office questioning us, when she didn’t realize that she was kept in the loop of what was happening.

    But as employees, what can we do? We can only quit.

    • Sorry to hear that, Cheryl. Not a good start for a Monday.
      I am convinced, however, that there are many options besides quitting. Most of those options are linked to communication – open, honest, two-way communication with the objective to understand and not to blame. This is worth several tries.
      Let’s us know how it went (if you don’t mind).

      • I have communicated before, but I don’t think it is of use! In an Asian culture, you cant just lay all cards on the table. People get offended and defensive. 🙂

      • Ok, not sure whether we can “blame” Asian culture for this. Sometimes people are just immature and not prepared to take feedback. How do these people want to improve themselves, if they are not open for feedback?
        Have you tried to ask for permission to give feedback first before you actually give the feedback?

  3. Hi Andy,

    Nice take on employee engagement.. Personally I think there is only so much a company can do to supposedly up the engagement score of the employees. Ultimately, it is still up to the employees to drive/steer themselves to determine whether they are engaged or not. Some people have inclination to “work” for others, some people like to “work” for themselves.


  4. Hi Andy

    Well said. Today is my last day of my 10 years career life, most probably. Is this a tribute to me? Haha

    • Hi Frugal Daddy,
      I was off-line for a while. I only read your latest post yesterday (no, sorry to say, but my post is not a tribute to you directly).
      Anyway, good decision. I fully support you. You got your priorities in life sorted out.
      Let’s have Kopi one of these days once you got settled into your new life-style. Kopi is on me.

  5. Hi Andy,
    Not many boss know how to ” engage ” his or her staffs,,,base on some surveys,,,90% of staff leaving a company not bcos of pay ,,but bcos of having issue with “immediate superior or boss”,,,this also made me think that sometimes is important to choose your ” boss ” to follow & work with and not the company,,,
    Cheers !!!

    • Hi STE, agreed. The reasons for leaving are seldom pay but emotional disengagement in which case the bosses always have a role to play.
      People join companies but leave bosses.

  6. Hi Tacomob,

    I think it takes 2 hands to clap. I always believe that change starts from ourselves. However to sustain the energy and motivation level to keep in engage mindset, the support from our boss and peers are important too.

    • That’s why bosses should learn more about the basics of human psychology, the languages of appreciation and the toolbox of engagement methods.
      Unfortunately those subjects are often not part of any formal education.
      In addition bosses get promoted further up because they look good in the eyes of their boss but not necessarily good in the eyes of their subordinates. Do subordinates have a say in who gets promoted? I have my doubts whether they are even asked in most companies.

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