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Nation Home > Spotlight
Healthier Employees

Samineh I Shaheem / 1 December 2012

‘Health is not everything, but without health, everything is nothing’ - Schopenhauer

We spend most of our waking hours at work. Some people are on the field, others in offices, still some people work from home. Regardless of the different locations or environments that host our presence during these hours, our welfare should be one of the main priorities considered for organisations, employees and communities. 

Khaleej TimesThe topic of ‘Occupational Health’ deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace and has a strong focus on primary prevention rather than cure. It encompasses everything done by employees, employers and society to improve the condition and well-being of people at work. Health issues have several components and some of them are more serious than others. They include being exposed to risk factors that could lead to cancers, accidents, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory diseases, hearing loss, circulatory diseases, psychological ailments, stress related disorders and communicable diseases and others.

According to MedlinePlus.com, occupational health problems occur at work or because of the kind of work you do. These problems can include

  • Cuts, broken bones, sprains and strains, or amputations
  • Repetitive motion disorders
  • Hearing problems caused by exposure to noise
  • Vision problems or even blindness
  • Psychological illnesses
  • Illness caused by breathing, touching or ingesting unsafe substances
  • Illness caused by exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to germs in healthcare settings

Most corporations have health and safety guidelines, even though very few people actually read this document. However work place health prevention should go beyond the boundaries of legal requirements. Since we are an emerging market, we need to develop our companies to the point where leading global standards and strategies for protecting our employees are being discussed, implemented and monitored.

Everyone benefits when employees stay healthy at work, including the organization because it helps enhance productivity, reduce sickness & absence rates, improve employee engagement, moral, motivation, loyalty, commitment and increase customer satisfaction. Examples of a company encouraging occupational health include:

1.    Having a clear and consistent philosophy about work-life balance

2.    Improving and maintaining the mental health of the staff with available resources either in house or through referrals

3.    Looking after the physical health of employees

4.    Encouraging physical activity through regular team building exercise

5.    Promoting a healthy lifestyle through the exchange of information and resources

6.    Providing training and coaching to prevent/manage stress

But more importantly, you should be the CEO of your own health issues so here are some tips you should try and incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Take proper lunch breaks, not while seated in front of your monitor
  • Take a couple of walks throughout the day
  • Avoid unhealthy eating traps such as vending machines
  • Avoid standing or sitting for too long
  • Do mini exercises at your desk such as using dumb bells a few times a day
  • Monitor your posture
  • Listen to your body and if you have any pains/aches/discomfort, see a doctor
  • Take healthy snacks to work
  • Avoid repetitive movements if possible
  • Monitor your stress levels
  • Look after your eyes
  • Avoid self diagnosis and taking substances which have not been prescribed by a medical professional
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Be open to making mistakes and try and learn from them instead of feeling demotivated
  • Observe your work load and level of complexity – allow room for adjustment if necessary
  • Have clear boundaries between work and personal time
  • Reduce role ambiguity and uncertainty by asking for clarity
  • Report any incidents of bullying or hostility at the work place
  • Clean your work space so it doesn’t become a breeding area for bacteria

Approximately 40 hours engaging in different work related activities can be both mentally and physically exhausting for that reason both employees and leaders of establsihments should try and carve out a space that promotes health and happiness rather than just productivity.

Samineh I Shaheem is an author, an assistant professor of psychology, currently lecturing in Dubai, as well as a cross-cultural consultant at HRI. She has studied and worked in different parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, and the UAE. She co hosts a radio program (Psyched Sundays 10-12pm) every Sunday morning on Dubai Eye discussing the most relevant psychological issues in our community. 

Please forward your thoughts and suggestions for future articles to OutOfMindContact@gmail.com

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