The city of Kuala Lumpur is a major tourist attraction but there is one thing that it needs to improve on for its residents.
In a recent study that examined which cities around the world promoted the most holistic work-life balance, Kuala Lumpur ranked 40 out of the 40 cities surveyed.
The study – released by US-based mobile access technology company Kisi – compared data on work intensity, institutional support, legislation, and liveability and ranked cities based on their success in promoting work-life balance to their citizens.
An index encompassing 20 factors determined the top 40 metropolises around the world which not only recognise the importance of a work-life balance, but also encourage it directly and indirectly through policies and urban infrastructure.
Helsinki, Munich, and Oslo topped the list as cities which promoted the most holistic work-life balance.
On the other hand, the most overworked cities in the study were Tokyo, Singapore and Washington DC, with Kuala Lumpur taking the fourth spot.
The study also found that citizens in Oslo work the least number of hours per week, at 38.9, followed by Sydney and Melbourne, both at 39.8.
When it comes to the highest number of maternal and parental leave days, Helsinki ranked the highest at 1127, followed by Budapest (1,120) and Oslo (637).
Oslo also has the best access to mental healthcare as well as the highest gender equality score, at 77.9.
Meanwhile, the city which its residents feel the safest in is Singapore, followed by Tokyo and Toronto, while Helsinki has the highest happiness score, at 100, followed by Oslo and Zurich.
“Despite living in an era where unprecedented advancements have been made in technology and connectivity, we have failed to address the most everyday aspect of enhancing our everyday lives – finding the balance between work and leisure. We hope that this study highlights the need for more research to optimise the well-being of citizens in order to counter the psychological and economic costs of workplace stress,” said Bernhard Mehl, CEO of Kisi, in a press release.
Mehl stated that workplace stress contributes to at least 120,000 deaths a year, costing up to an estimated US$190bil (RM794bil) in the U.S., according to a study by researchers at Harvard and Stanford.
“Altogether, this proves that we need to prioritise our understanding of the role of workplace intensity in healthcare and well-being. When you see these figures, it makes so much sense not just for individuals but also for the companies that employ them to ensure that their employees’ needs are met. The end result is not just a happier, healthier workforce, but in the long-term, a more economically viable one,” ” states Mehl.
He emphasised that professional and personal lives are not mutually exclusive.
“Whether it’s the long hours, unrealistic expectations from bosses or job insecurity, workplace stress has proven to affect our physical and mental health. Policymakers should be tackling these issues in tandem. As long as employees are stressed, they will not take advantage of the safeguards created for their well-being – no matter how progressive government and company reforms are,” said Mehl.
According to Kisi, this index is not designed to be a city liveability index, nor is it intended to highlight the best cities to work in.
Instead, it aims to be a guideline for cities to benchmark their ability to support the fulfilment of residents’ lives by improving the aspects of life that help relieve work-related stress and intensity.