November 27 - December 3, 2019

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Letters

An increasing number of corporations are starting to take note of employee wellbeing and the impact this has on productivity, and ultimately the company’s performance.

The UAE government, for example, itself is making health and wellbeing a priority for its communities by introducing initiatives such as The Happiness Agenda, which aims to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. Leading by example, the government is committed to fulfilling this vision by introducing programmes such as The Dubai Fitness Challenge which aims to motivate the residents of Dubai to stay fit and healthy.

Organisations are following suit and are similarly making great efforts to cultivate a work environment that promotes health, wellness and fitness for their employees.

Daman, the region’s leading specialised health insurance provider, recently revealed the top five trends in corporate health and wellness in the region.

1. Fitness challenges

Companies are facilitating competitions such as office marathons and obstacle course challenges to engage their employees and encourage them to incorporate fitness into their lives. Exciting prizes and cash rewards often offer further incentives for employees to participate in these office competitions. One notable fun, results-oriented fitness challenge includes the ‘Biggest Loser Contest’, which recognises and rewards the employee who has shed the most pounds in a set period of time.

2.  Flexible working arrangements

It is now widely recognised that employees do not necessarily need to be in the office to be productive. In fact, working from home can increase productivity due to reduced distractions such as impromptu meetings or a lack of quiet space. Organisations are encouraging their workforce to take advantage of these flexible working arrangements, as they recognise that less rigid policies and reduced micromanagement may boost staff morale and wellbeing.

3. Mindfulness training

Mindfulness has been shown to cultivate more focus, clarity and self-awareness. A number of firms are now providing mindfulness training at work in an effort to reduce employee stress and boost productivity. One of the ways in which mindfulness can improve productivity is through an enhanced ability to orient attention and be less distracted. This practice has become very popular within businesses as research shows those who participate in mindfulness training add roughly 60 extra minutes of productivity per week*.

4. Health education

Many companies are offering their employees classes on important topics such as cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure. They are also providing their employees access to health experts who can educate them about healthy eating and healthy living. The aim of such seminars and presentations is to produce behaviour change in employees. When they start to understand their own unhealthy behaviours and the health risks associated with them, the expectation is that employees will start to adopt and maintain more healthy behaviours.

5. Free or subsidised fitness classes

Apart from fitness challenges that may run for a number of weeks or months, companies are also actively providing their workforce with free year-round fitness classes and gym memberships. Organisations who have an onsite gym facility give their employees access to a number of fun activities such as Zumba classes, circuit training, and spin classes. Companies are also encouraging participation in local events such as marathons, walkathons and other fitness challenges by giving their employees subsidised entry to these events. 

Last month, the sixth edition of the Daman Corporate Health and Wellness Awards in collaboration with MEED recognised the UAE organisations pioneering trends and initiatives in amplifying employee health and wellness in the workplace.

 By email from a MEED representative

More on Letters