Happy staff = Increased productivity – UAE survey

By Eudore R. Chand

Tips to make your staff ‘happy’… and more ‘productive’

DUBAI 9 November 2017: A recent study shows employee productivity hinges on happiness in the workplace – and more than 72 per cent say work-life balance is the key to overall happiness in the workplace.

The study was conducted by Oman Insurance Company (OIC) and Bupa Global. OIC and Bupa Global also launched a Wellness Quiz to help people in the UAE understand their current state of well being so employers can better understand key to workplace happiness

The findings of the study will be discussed among decision makers and employers attending today’s SME Beyond Borders 2017 Conference at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai.

According to the research which surveyed almost 1,000 individuals across the UAE, over 95% of respondents believe that if they were happier in their workplace, they would be more productive. According to a study conducted by HR consultancy Tower Perrins, the operating income of businesses with low levels of employee engagement dropped by 32.7%[1], whilst those with high levels increased by 19.2%.

Health a Key Factor

Commenting on what employers can do to increase happiness and engagement levels in the workplace, Karim Idilby, General Manager for Bupa Global in Africa, India and the Middle East, said: “Employers play a key role in motivating their employees to be more productive. According to the research, more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents feel a quality health insurance plan with suitable benefits and cover will ensure peace of mind so they can be more focused and productive at work.

“The survey also shows that over 72% of respondents feel that work-life balance is key to managing employee wellbeing and overall happiness in the workplace. While small and medium businesses are booming in the UAE, they are constantly under pressure to maximise their growth, which directly impacts their workforce. With workplace stress levels often running very high in this part of the world, it is becoming increasingly apparent that many employers are finding it challenging to monitor and adequately address the wellbeing of their people.”

Wellness Multifaceted

Wellness at work is however far more multifaceted than just having a healthy diet or exercising. It is also about mental wellbeing, which can mean different things for each employee, varying from office space, lighting and ergonomics, to work-culture, and practising meditation.

The survey also found that over 60% of respondents reported being happiest at work in the morning, with over 67% of them claiming to be most productive during this period. While the survey indicates some common motivators, it is fundamental to have a tailored approach and seek to understand the individual needs of the workforce.

Karim added: “Employers of small to medium size businesses don’t have the same resources available to them as larger companies, meaning they can find it challenging to fully understand the needs of their workforce. This is why Bupa Global and OIC have launched a Wellness Quiz that helps people in the UAE to understand their current state of wellbeing. Both employees and employers can utilise the quiz as a starting point to define their workplace wellbeing requirements.”

What employers can do to improve workplace happiness and productivity:

Tips to improve work life balance
Consider flexibility – Many employees feel stress due to the pressure of trying to keep up with both working and personal commitments. Enabling people to either work from home or flex their hours so they can, for example, pick up their children may help to alleviate this.

Value your employees’ time off – Nurture a working culture in which employees don’t have to check emails on holidays. They are more likely to be more productive when they return.

Lead by example – senior managers can also actively promote a healthy lifestyle themselves by having a good work-life balance, managing their working hours, using their full holiday entitlement and taking regular lunch breaks.

Tips to improve workplace benefits
Communicate with your team – Businesses which encourage an open culture are more likely to have employees who are more willing to discuss their health and wellbeing at work.

Learn more about stress relievers so you can point your team to extra support – Get to know more about stress and how to deal with it. Managers could direct employees towards mindfulness apps or podcasts or even organise expert sessions to discuss wellness and further build the culture of openness.

Facilitate healthy living in the workplace – If you don’t have the resources to offer subsidised gym memberships, encourage your employees to do walking meetings when possible. You can also arrange discounts with restaurants in the area, so your employees may have access to healthier lunch options.

Tips to provide quality healthcare insurance
Educate employees on their insurance coverage – Work with your insurance partner and help your employees better understand the coverage they have, and how to make the best use of the insurance network and expertise.

Explain how employees can help you provide higher quality insurance – Most employees are not aware that the usage they make of their insurance benefits can impact the quality of insurance cover they get in the following year.

Look into wellness programmes – Discuss with your insurance provider the possibility to implement a wellness programme tailored to the needs of your employees. This could include regular wellness checks, nutrition workshops and clinical lectures.