Skip to content
Burnout Content
Naluri5 min read

Burnout Crisis: Factors Affecting Working Adults in Southeast Asia

Employee burnout is fast becoming a global issue. A previous Naluri study uncovered that 63% of Southeast Asian employees are burnt out. Including participants from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines, more than half of the working adults in the region report increased burnout levels. To clarify, for the purpose of this article, we refer to ‘burnout’ as a work-related state of exhaustion. In this article, we will break down the associated factors contributing to burnout in working adults and the keys to improving employee burnout in the region. 

Previously defined as a work-related state of exhaustion, burnout is exhibited by extreme tiredness, fatigue, emotional and cognitive impairment, and mental distancing. The Job Demands-Resources (JDR) model theorises an imbalance between work demands and employee resources that breeds burnout. While this theory is true for burnout among healthcare workers and overrun hospitals. The factors vary regarding the working adult population in other industries.

Recognising the importance of understanding what causes burnout is essential to any organisation and business. It is only by addressing the issues and finding solutions that employers fully engage their workforce. 


Burnout and Psychological Distress

Psychological distress, a state of emotional suffering characterised by symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety, is the result of extreme burnout. Logic dictates that unmanaged burnout can lead to adverse health and economic consequences for both the individual and employers. 

These are the results from Naluri’s research on the prevalence of Associated Factors for Burnout;



Results indicate from a regional perspective, Indonesia experiences lower levels of burnout when compared to the other countries. Our research does show that economic background, job details, and stress levels are all linked to feeling seriously burnt out at work. The prevalence of burnout was highest in the Phillippines, followed by Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The magnitude of which - more than 60% of working adults regionally experiencing burnout -  highlights a necessity to focus on employee mental health and wellbeing across the region. 


Identified causes of burnout

Based on Naluri’s research and supplemented by other credible data sources from adjacent research teams worldwide, we can identify a consensus on the major causes of burnout in Southeast Asian working adults. We also want to note that these issues can be addressed by employers. 


Over-working or excessive working hours 

The average working week worldwide is 40 hours, usually spread across five 8-hour days with an hour of personal time in between for lunch. Asia follows similar standards; however, working hours can range from 40 to 50 hours a week. Considering the cultural stigma attached to working in Asia, it is not uncommon for employees to work long, inflexible hours to satisfy escalating work demands.

Naluri’s findings aligned with previous research published by the National Institute of Health. More than usual work hours = higher burnout risk.


Job satisfaction or lack thereof 

Burnout is more prevalent among employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs. Unfortunately, for all employers, there is a direct link between low job satisfaction and turnover rates. If you were to Google “factors for job satisfaction”, search results will display the following factors; 

  • Work-life balance
  • Company
  • Opportunities
  • Security
  • Learning and career development
  • Appreciation
  • Relationship with supervisors
  • Autonomy
  • Better salary

With 15 more to follow below the fold, the problem is that many employees in this region value job security over job satisfaction. Coupled with our reward-based education system, Asians are likely to fall into this trap, believing in the light at the end of the road when there rarely is one.


Lack of work-life balance 

There is an indirect link between remote work and employee wellbeing. Our research at Naluri and several other sources agree that no direct correlations exist for or against remote work promoting a better work-life balance. 

Data shows that the results are people-driven, so we can conclude that having the flexibility to choose between working remotely and working from the office does provide better odds for a higher performance ratio. 


What can employers do to help?

Fortunately, there are some solutions that can be used to combat the issues that cause burnout in the workplace. These best practices will ultimately increase your standing as an employer and your business’s overall ROI. 

In a public health assessment previously conducted by Naluri, we asked participants about the most important factors affecting their lives. These are the results; 

Burnout article

The top three most important factors are, in order of importance;

  • Mental and emotional health
  • Spending time with family
  • Building personal and financial wealth 

Employers like to believe that their employees are as dedicated to their company’s growth as they are. The evidence shows otherwise. Fifty years ago, we might have had a different argument, one in which loyalty to your employer will earn you long-term perks. 

In 2024, candidates and employees will evaluate employers equally to regular performance reviews. 

Corporations and businesses that provide wellbeing support to their employees have a higher percentage of staff thriving rather than just coping or struggling. In the same study, as previously mentioned, a question was asked about the state of mind of participants working in a company with wellbeing support versus one without. 

The results corroborate the earlier statement. Employers who provide support have more functional and thriving employees.  

Workplaces that do provide wellbeing support vs workplaces that do not

Following our earlier list of negative factors, these are some positive applications any employer can enforce to reduce burnout;


1. Focus on work-life balance.


To promote a healthy work-life balance, offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours. Encourage your employees to take breaks and holidays to recharge.


2. Set clear goals and expectations.

Set clear expectations and goals for employees, providing them with a roadmap for success. Regularly communicate progress and provide feedback to help your team stay on track. 


3. Promote healthy relationships

Foster positive relationships among colleagues and between managers and employees. Encourage collaboration, respect, and mutual support in the workplace. In other words, leave the politics to the politicians. 


4. Invest in an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

A customised EAP to be your partner in employee health and wellness. Issues like burnout, anxiety, quiet quitting, and poor ROI cannot be solved overnight. Still, specialised care and support from a team dedicated to helping is a step in the right direction, as the data has revealed; it is just what we need.