Workplace wellness programmes crucial for employees in UAE, say survey results

Asma Ali Zain /Dubai Filed on August 14, 2018
Workplace wellness programmes crucial for employees in UAE, say survey results

"More people are feeling positive about their current financial situation and understand the need to prepare for their future."

The UAE experienced a marginal decline in overall wellness during the past year while physical well-being also diminished slightly since 2017 with the sharpest decline observed in the ability to exercise regularly, according to a new survey.

The slight decline was driven by people having less personal time and concerns about meeting the needs of family members, as per the 2018 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey - Future Assured which was released on Monday.

Factoring in the responses of the resident UAE population for the second consecutive year, the findings indicate that the overall well-being remains stable with residents more confident of their ability to manage current and future costs, and the majority confirming a good work-life balance.

Workplace wellness programmes are crucial for employees in the UAE, with 81 per cent of the respondents agreeing that such initiatives are important in choosing between two potential employers. Notably, this finding peaks to 85 per cent among the millennials.

The survey findings hint at a lower incidence of employer support, with three in five respondents saying they do not have any formal workplace wellness programme, and half of them claiming they do not receive adequate support from employers in dealing with stress.

"More people are feeling positive about their current financial situation and understand the need to prepare for their future. However, our findings also show a trade-off as we face increased levels of workplace stress today," said Art Cozad, chief executive officer, Cigna Insurance Middle East.

"This presents a huge opportunity for employers to step up their workplace wellness efforts. The UAE Government has already taken the lead in this respect through the innovative Happiness Agenda that is setting a benchmark for countries around the world. Following their example, private sector companies can offer practical solutions such as flexi-hours or stress management support through insurance packages that include mental wellness."

Expert speak

Dr Caesar Zahka, consultant neurologist at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai, said that workplace wellness can have lot of effects on health. "Too much stress causes increase in blood pressure, increases in cortisol and sugar, insulin resistance, hyperacidity and peptic ulcer disease, insomnia and other sleeping problems, lack of energy etc," he said.

"To ensure wellness, there should be cooperation and feeling of team work, administration should be reachable, there should be fairness and feeling of team work and helpfulness," he added.

Companies are aware that there is a direct link between the health and happiness of the employees and productivity.

Drawing on 14,467 online interviews, including 502 in the UAE, the 2018 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey was conducted from February to March 2018 across 23 countries and territories.

KT nano edit: Make surveys effective

Surveys tend to reveal trends which come in handy while formulating policies. Workplace wellness programmes seem popular among employers as well as job seekers and it would bode well to introduce such schemes at workplaces. Also, it would do well to look into why there is a higher preference for private healthcare and fill the gap. Only when action is taken will surveys become effective.


Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.

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