SINGAPORE workers are less than happy at work, a survey has found, and experts say this may lead to "unhappy" results.

"When workers are not as happy, they might not generate good output. It might lead to lower performance and productivity," said Mr David Leong, managing director of recruitment firm PeopleWorldwide.

Mr Low Boon Seong, managing director of human resource consultancy Align Group, said: "Employee retention might also be a problem."

A workplace happiness survey released on Tuesday showed that Singapore workers are "under happy" at work, chalking up an average score of 59 out of 100 in a workplace happiness index.

Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) and Align Group conducted the online survey of more than 5,000 workers, the first of its kind here. Mr Low said he did not know of comparable surveys overseas.

Under the bandings, a score of between 0 and 50 is deemed "Unhappy"; 51 and 67 "Under Happy"; and 68 and 100 "Happy".

Workers were asked to rate 28 statements, such as "I like how things work in my company", "I am satisfied with the salary for my job" and "I am confident in doing my job".

The survey showed that Singapore workers had a high sense of self-efficacy and resilience at work. They were, however, most unhappy about workplace culture, pay and benefits.

"Singapore is generally known to have a fast-paced work culture and workers could feel pressured, especially in high-octane jobs," said Mr Leong. But while workplace happiness matters, performance and discipline are also important to employers, he said, adding: "Organisations that are performance-driven will generally be hot-stove environments, and workplaces cannot be too nice to have a higher happiness index."

The survey also revealed that the highest earners are not the happiest. Those from voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) came out tops in workplace happiness, scoring an average of 64.6.

Workers in local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) ranked second with an average of 60.3. They were "happier" than those in the public service or Fortune 500 multinational companies, who scored 60.2 and 57.1, respectively.

"In VWOs, workers might more easily see how their efforts directly benefit someone in need compared with large organisations, where people may feel like they are part of a machine," said Mr Trevor Xie, director of community partnership at the Student Advisory Centre, which works with needy children.

Mr Low said those from local SMEs may have a higher sense of autonomy and feel they can influence the direction of the firm.

Workers in financial services (56.5) and logistics (55.4) were among the least happy, the survey found.

Remisier Gary Goh, 35, who felt finance is one of the most competitive sectors, said: "Money is a driver but, sometimes, it is about taking stock of what you have and not chasing the next dollar."

To make workplaces happier, the management could hold meetings to communicate the firm's direction and ensure open channels for workers to share their needs, said SHRI president Erman Tan.

Words of thanks also help.

"Saying 'thank you' for a job well done costs the company zero dollars, but the impact goes a long way," said Next Career Consulting managing director Paul Heng.