Investments in corporate wellness programmes up: MEED survey

KHDA is among the trailblazers in the corporate wellness scene in the UAE. Photo shows a track in its office and other fitness equipment that provide opportunities for employees to keep fit or de-stress. - Supplied photo

Staff Report

Dubai – Businesses in UAE are increasing investments in corporate wellness programmes to promote employee well-being, according to a survey conducted by MEED as part of its Daman Corporate Health Awards (DCHA) programme.
Of the 98 respondents polled, 70% said they now have a corporate wellness programme in place compared to only 45% in 2013, when the DCHA was launched.

Dr. Michael Bitzer

Majority of companies likewise said initiatives are in place to promote a healthy lifestyle among employees, to help them have a more positive experience at work.
The amount of investment varies, depending on the activities, but the majority of the respondents reported a minimum investment of $100 to as much as $1million, as part of efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle among employees in general, to fighting increasing cases of stress, in particular.
“While increasing investments in corporate health is a good thing, business leaders need to realise workplace wellness initiatives can be done at very minimal or no cost at all,” said MEED editorial director Richard Thompson. “What is important to highlight here is that more and more companies are developing such programmes to enhance employee well-being, which has proven effective in contributing to overall business productivity and competitiveness.”

According to the survey, 68% said their workforce is under stress because of workload, pressure on having a healthy work-life balance, having a stressful office environment as well as concerns about job security.

Some of the top ill-effects caused by stress cited by the survey respondents included health issues such as neck and back problems as well as performance anxieties. A healthcare-based company also said stress is affecting the quality of service they are able to provide to their patients.
“Stress in the workplace is a concern for employers as well as employees, and rightly so as it affects employee motivation and productivity as well as their overall well-being. This survey will be a useful tool in determining the long-term impact of stress and how well intervention measures in the form of corporate health and wellness programmes are successful in addressing the issue,” said Dr. Michael Bitzer, CEO at National Health Insurance Company – Daman, which together with MEED spearhead the annual Daman Corporate Health Awards, a programme that recognises wellness initiatives in companies and organisations in the Emirates.
Recognising corporate wellness programmes is an important step in promoting corporate health, as it helps encourage businesses and organisations in both the public and private sectors as well as the non-profit community to develop and implement similar programmes.

Companies and organisations with wellness programmes are encouraged to submit their entries into the 2018 edition of the Daman Corporate Health Awards through The deadline for submission is on 31st May 2018.

Top programmes that promote employee well-being:

1. Group exercises (yoga, meditation, indoor walking/running)
2. Healthy pantry options
3. Participation in company’s corporate social responsibility programmes
4. Installation of gaming and exercise facilities
5. Regular medical/health check-ups in office

Top ill-effects of stress in the workplace:
1. Lack of sleep
2. Health problems (neck and back pain)
3. Anxiety and psychological issues
4. Productivity is lessened
5. Negative impact on family