Dubai's hospitality boom: Why it is important to balance growth with employee well-being

Here's a look at how some of the city's hospitality employers are supporting their staff


Husain Rizvi

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Published: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 7:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 2:28 PM

The hospitality industry featuring hotels and restaurants is undoubtedly an ever-changing, fast-paced field. And in Dubai, a city which has positioned itself as a global hub for tourism, business, and luxury, the hospitality industry continues to thrive.

Earlier this year, the second edition of the Dubai Gastronomy Industry Report, released by the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), revealed that Dubai residents dine out almost three times a week. Pair those findings with the number of tourists Dubai sees on a daily basis. Dubai Mall stands as the primary example of this finding; the destination is now filled with people every day of the week whereas, previously, such was the case only on weekends.

We do enjoy our time at the restaurants, malls, and even staycations at the best hotels across the city. On the other end, though, there are employees of the hospitality industry who ensure we have the best time.

While the industry offers exciting opportunities for personal and professional growth, it also presents significant challenges to the well-being and mental health of its employees. Understanding these challenges and implementing strategies to promote a healthy work environment is crucial for both employee satisfaction and business success.

The challenges

One of the most common challenges are the irregular work hours. Employees often work long hours, sometimes throughout the nights, weekends, and even holidays. This disrupts the natural sleep cycle, leading to fatigue and also interrupting the personal life which contributes to stress and burnout. Additionally, high-pressure situations and dealing with demanding customers can lead to chronic stress which negatively impacts mental health.

In terms of job security, the hospitality industry can be volatile, with economic downturns, seasonal fluctuations, and just the amount of replacements available in a market at any given time.

These challenges can lead to high stress levels and physical and mental burnout of hospitality workers. To combat these challenges, it is essential for employers in the industry to actively take steps to promote the well-being and mental health of their employees.

What is the solution?

First and foremost, flexible schedules can go a long way in aiding the employees and reducing stress and fatigue. It also helps employees balance their work and personal lives.

RMAL Hospitality, a component of Al Fahim Group in Dubai, with prominent brands such as wagamama, Marco Pierre White, Trader Vic’s and more, has taken some steps to address the challenges for its employees. Its Chief Executive Officer, Elias Madbak tells City Times that the well-being of our employees is paramount to our success.

Elias Madbak, CEO, RMAL Hospitality
Elias Madbak, CEO, RMAL Hospitality

"We have implemented quite a few initiatives to boost our team’s engagement, whether it's an interactive recognition program, an open door policy or access to mental health workshops and wellness sessions," said Elias. "Those initiatives collectively boost employee morale and keep our peers engaged, happy and productive."

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for employees of any industry. Work-life balance is all about juggling our jobs and personal lives to prevent burn out. One should remain committed to work responsibilities and still be able to have free time to themselves. Elias reveals how RMAL Hospitality's new 5-day work week has helped its employees. "Our new 5-day work week for all employees including in all our restaurants and entertainment venues is a key component of maintaining work-life balance, providing our staff with more regular time to rest and recharge."

Rahul Shetty, Managing Director of Peninsula Hospitality Group
Rahul Shetty, Managing Director of Peninsula Hospitality Group

Rahul Shetty, Managing Director of Peninsula Hospitality Group, shared how the organisation provides its employees with training on mental health awareness. "It's great to see that our organization is taking proactive steps to promote work-life balance and support the mental health and well-being of our employees," he said. "By encouraging flexible scheduling, providing training on mental health awareness, promoting open communication, and implementing wellness programs, we are creating a supportive and understanding workplace culture that values the well-being of our employees. These initiatives can help improve employee morale, reduce burnout, and enhance overall productivity and satisfaction within the organization."

The hospitality industry has traditionally been characterised by long working hours and high-pressure environments. It is a challenge to implement initiatives for employee well-being and mental health, especially when a perception that such changes could lead to reduced productivity looms. But with such initiatives undertaken by industry leaders, employers can create a healthier, more productive, and more resilient workforce. This not only benefits the employees but also leads to better customer service, higher employee retention, and overall business success.

"From talent management to innovation and financial performance, the outcomes of a strong and healthy culture, where employees feel valued and engaged are profound and far reaching," Elias concluded. "It is also, simply, the right thing to do."


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