Data is gaining importance in the role it plays in the way organisations in Singapore conduct their business. However, workers are struggling to stay abreast of the increasingly important role of data.

Based on the survey by data solutions company Qlik and consulting firm Accenture released on 22 January, 84 per cent of workers surveyed felt overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data.

Singapore ranks second of the nine nations polled, with India ranking at first.

The survey, which was conducted in September last year, polled over 9,000 workers, including 1,000 in Singapore. Other countries include, the US, Australia, Sweden, Britain, Japan, France, India, and Germany.

Due to stress from technology, data and information issues, 47 per cent of the Singaporeans surveyed took at least a day of sick leave in the past two years.

Also, data overload is a cause of workplace stress according to 73 per cent of respondents, and this figure is higher than the 61 per cent global average.

To avoid workplace stress from data overload, 40 per cent of them would look for alternative approaches to complete the work without utilising data at all.

What’s more, only 16 per cent of Singapore respondents are found to be confident in their data literacy skills.

Qlik defines data literacy as the ability to read, work with, analyse, and communicate with data.

“From speaking to business leaders and customers on data literacy in the past 12 months, we do know that there are high expectations for employees across all departments, not just number-native roles like finance or sales operations, to work with and utilise data… This can be overwhelming for employees and can amplify their stress levels if they are not confident in their ability to read, understand, question and work with data,” said Suganthi Shivkumar, Qlik’s Managing Director of Asean, India, and South Korea.

The breakdown of responses by employee age and company size was not provided by Qlik and Accenture.

However, they believe that workers’ struggle with data has affected productivity. An average of more than seven working days per worker, which is 56.5 hours, are lost annually by firms in Singapore as a result of sick leave and procrastination for data-related stress. This tallied up to S$5.1 billion in estimated lost productivity annually, according to the press release.

Many firms need to reinvent their approach to analysis, decision making, and data governance by making sure that employees possess the necessary training and tools, said Accenture’s Data Business Group Global Lead and Group Technology Officer, Sanjeev Vohra.

“Data-driven companies that focus on continuous learning will be more productive and gain a competitive edge,” he remarked.

Ms Shivkumar added that formal data literacy training programmes should be started by companies to equip the appropriate tools to analyse data, or ready a team that process data for other workers to use.

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