A recent report by Cigna suggested that overall well-being in Hong Kong dropped slightly between June and August 2020 from 57.2 to 56.4 and was lower than the global average of 60.4. It also had the lowest level of well-being of the 11 markets surveyed, aside from Korea. Hong Kong compared unfavorably with its global counterparts in all five areas of physical, social, work, finance, and family well-being.
As part of Cigna’s annual 360 Well-Being Survey, this research was the third in a series of studies to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s well-being in 11 markets, including Hong Kong. The research tracked people’s well-being as they moved across and between different stages of the pandemic.
Financial insecurity becomes the key stressor
Finances continue to be the key stressor for the people of Hong Kong, with the financial well-being index remaining flat (49.9 in June to 49.8 in August 2020), with only 11% of respondents saying their current financial situation is positive (dropped from 17% in June 2020). People continue to feel insecure financially with only 14% of respondents saying they have financial security in case of emergencies or if they are unable to work (same number in June 2020).
Though concern on the ability to pay for housing has reduced (from 17% in June to 11% in August 2020), 63% of respondents have the worst outlook on the future of their economic environment and its impact on their financial situation (increased from 55% in June 2020). Only 8% of respondents said they have sufficient money for retirement (down from 12% in June 2020).
Hong Kong still has one of the higher stress levels across the markets surveyed, with unmanageable stress level staying at 18% in August (same in June 2020). 91% claim to be stressed, higher than the global average of 83%. While finance is the key stress driver, with 28% of respondents attributing this as the cause of their stress, health has also become one of the biggest sources of stress, rising from 10% in June to 27% in August 2020.
Cigna CEO, South East Asia & regional health solutions Julian Mengual said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused shock waves that have had a large-scale impact on global economies, and Hong Kong is no exception. As we enter the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in Hong Kong, people continue to feel stressed about personal finance as they see their financial situation and long-term financial security negatively impacted.”
Lack of accessibility and knowledge on virtual health contribute to lower usage
More people said they are likely to use virtual health if they are offered the option. This group of people has increased from 36% in June to 49% in August 2020. For those who are likely to use virtual health, generic health support (52%), mental health support (43%) and prescriptions delivery (42%) are the top services of interest. However, lack of accessibility and knowledge on virtual health appear to be the reasons for its lower usage in Hong Kong, with 67% of respondents said they do not have access to the service and another 43% of non-virtual health users said they do not know enough about the service.
Less work-related stress despite longer working hours and poorer work-life balance
Satisfaction regarding workload or working hours of the people in Hong Kong has decreased (down from 48% in June to 34% in August 2020), with fewer people said they have a good work-life balance (down from 51% in June to 42% in August 2020). The survey also found more people are experiencing ‘Always on’ working (up from 64% in June to 80% in August 2020). However, workplace stress seemed to have declined, with 46% said they have work-related stress in August (down from 57% in June 2020).
More Hong Kong working professionals are provided an option to work from home (increased from 50% in June to 62% in August 2020). Across all these working professionals, 62% are concerned with the outbreak of COVID-19 if most people return to the office (increased from 44% in June 2020). The research also reveals most people prefer financial support from employer on COVID-19 testing (increased from 55% in June to 69% in August 2020). Next is enhanced health insurance cover, which accounts for 65%.