Survey: 1 in 5 Singapore workers claim ‘ghostly’ workplace encounters

By: Alythea Ho

Hungry Ghost Month starts this August. According to Chinese tradition, this is a time when Hell releases its ghostly denizens into the land of the living.

So if you regularly work overtime, watch out: Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) Singapore workers claim to have encountered or heard others encounter the supernatural in the workplace — right here, in modern Singapore. In addition, Master degree and N/O-level holders are equally and most likely to claim a personal encounter.

The most ‘haunted’ area? Office washrooms. 33 per cent of ‘encounters’ take place in washrooms, followed by meeting rooms (15%) and storerooms (8%).

Over 3,500 Singapore workers took part in the JobsCentral survey from May to June this year. Other findings include:

  • Health & Social Services is the most ‘haunted’ service industry to work in
  • Women are more likely than men to 'encounter' or hear about someone encountering 'something'
  • Writing/Editorial workers are most likely to witness ‘something’; Research & Development workers the least.
  • Strange manifestations are most common (59%); being physically touched by unseen forces the least (2%)
  • Most claim seeing ghostly/shadowy figures (65%); few witness possessed co-workers (3%)

  • Spooktacular office encounters

    We received hundreds of creepy claims. Here’s a short selection; for more, head here.

  • My friend’s a media editor. One night he heard strange noises. The office chairs had started to roll on their own. He said a prayer and continued working, ignoring the noises and movements.
  • Loud knocking on the windows late at night. I work on the 30th floor.
  • Boss asked: “Why didn’t you introduce the new female staff to me?” Staff was puzzled because there was no new employee. The boss must’ve seen a lady ghost.
  • Crying sounds coming from the office cupboard.
  • Our night security guard was resting at our receptionist counter when he felt something sinister. He woke to a sweet smell and the sight of a figure with hair as long as its white robes. He fled the room and told his colleagues, except his boss because he wasn’t supposed to be there.
  • Something kept singing oldies song near my ears...
  • I felt someone run a finger across my neck when I was talking to my colleagues. I turned around but there wasn’t anyone behind me.
  • Paper flying on its own in the Accounts office.
  • Our new female staff was working night shift when she heard someone crying in the toilet. Without thinking, she went to check the cubicles and was horrified to find no one. Then when she was about to run out, she heard a woman laughing loudly.
  • There used to be this ‘girl’ roaming the third level of our building. Mediums were called in and ‘she’ went away.

  • Ghost? What ghost?

    However, some skeptics dismiss workplace spooks as mere products of a hyperactive imagination.

    One respondent quips: “My colleague encountered a ‘ghost’ lurking in the washroom at my shop level. I encountered only the tap that turns on by itself at times, due to a faulty sensor. Ha-ha.”

    Another puts it bluntly: “Customers and colleagues are scarier than the 'supernatural' because they either make a din or take your stationeries without informing you.”

    In fact, most Singapore employees are afraid of other – and more probable situations. 83 per cent admit to having workplace phobias, and the five greatest phobias are (in descending order):

  • Not meeting performance targets
  • Offending the boss
  • Missing deadlines
  • Offending colleagues
  • Having to make crucial decisions

  • So do spooks exist? We leave you to decide. At least, you now have another excuse to tell your boss why overtime work is bad for your health.

    Office spooks -- real or just a figment of the imagination? Share with us in the comment box below!

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