Top firms enhance wellness programmes, eye UAE’s ‘Workplace of the Year” honours


Staff Report

Companies are getting more creative when it comes to implementing wellness programmes at work not just to boost employee motivation and performance, but also to win the honour of being the UAE’s Workplace of the Year.
The award is one of 11 categories being contested by 35 companies at the annual Daman Corporate Health Awards, the only programme that recognises wellness initiatives in the workplace in the UAE.
“This year, we received yet another overwhelming response from the market with a 19% increase in entries from last year – a testament to the increasing number of companies in the UAE which are recognising the value and importance of having wellness programmes in the workplace,” said John Emmerson, Events Director, MEED, the leading business intelligence provider in the Middle East and organisers of the annual awards programme.
Among the companies competing to win the UAE’s Workplace of the Year award include Union National Bank (UNB), Zulekha Hospitals, Canon Middle East, Redington Gulf and du.
The finalists stood out for delivering innovative and high-impact wellness campaigns that proved to be effective in increasing employee motivation and enhancing performance, over and above the usual exercise and diet programmes or health checks and sports activities that have become the norm for some corporate wellness programmes.
Among UNB’s initiatives that resonated well with the judges include its introduction of the Happiness & Positivity Cheque which provides non-monetary rewards such as short leaves, cinema tickets, dinner vouchers; or providing its staff and family members with discounted tickets to resorts such as Dubai Parks and IMG World.
Zulekha Hospital also runs a comprehensive wellness programme in the workplace, including innovative initiatives such as painting their stairways with a calorie metre to encourage taking the stairs, gifting bicycles to qualified staff to encourage physical fitness, and distributing saplings for tree planting sessions to raise greater environmental awareness, among others.
Canon Middle East recently undertook an office re-fitting and renovation that took into consideration the wellbeing of its employees and was aimed at increasing productivity. Simple, yet effective and creative interventions include the provision of ergonomic chairs, or the installation of office desks that allowed employees to work, either standing or sitting down. It also dedicated a wall in the reception area to motivate and inspire employees to share their stories and new adventures with their colleagues.
For Redington Gulf, the key to having a great workplace was to provide their employees with a wow experience with the help of workspace design and technology. The company allocated spaces for breakout zones, called Chi Zones, where basketball nets, dartboards and colouring books encouraged movement and rejuvenation. Every new employee was also gifted with a plant on their first day to be placed on their work desk, thus creating their own Zen space. These and other wellness programmes have led to a culture among employees that made them want to show up at work and perform at optimum levels.
Finally, du takes pride in its comprehensive and pro-active approach to employee wellness with a range of initiatives that encompass physical, mental and social well-being. In addition to an in-house gym facility, the company has gaming facilities such as pool tables, foosball tables, table tennis and video consoles that provide recreational support for its employees. Non-sporting enthusiasts can join photography or reading clubs that have active programmes to keep employees engaged and inspired.
Commenting on the stellar entries for this year’s awards, Dr Michael Bitzer, Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Company – Daman, said: “The positive correlation between employee wellness and productivity is by now very well-established. Through their own initiatives, these finalists are testament to that, helping to drive corporate wellness in the workplace. We are delighted to have been a part of this growing movement from the outset when we partnered with MEED to launch the Daman Corporate Health Awards five years ago.”
Dr Bitzer added: ”We hope that our continued support will develop a positive corporate culture that complements our efforts to help create healthier communities across the UAE.”
The finalists will undergo another round of evaluation by a jury panel after which the winners will be announced in October this year.