Wellness programs 'will yield healthy returns'
Dubai, July 27, 2014
Investment in corporate wellness programmes is one of the most effective ways to improve business performance, a research report has said.
The results of the study conducted by Meed has revealed that companies could see as much as 300 per cent return on the investment spent on corporate wellness initiatives.
“It is very important to recognise the cost-benefit relationship associated with wellness programmes,” said Maisaa Nasrallah, a senior health, safety and environment (HSE) Consultant and IOSH (Institute of Occupational Safety & Health) UAE, Branch Chair.
“While upfront it appears as a cost, studies show that for every Dh1 spent on a wellness programme, Dh4 are saved in absenteeism, employee turnover and productivity,” she added.
The report was conducted as part of the Daman corporate health awards which aim to recognise the best employers in the UAE for their successful initiatives in health and wellness.
The report stressed that companies must appreciate the commitment required to deliver a successful health and wellness programme. “The smart, simple steps to a healthy lifestyle are a balanced diet and regular exercise, such as a 30-minute brisk walk each day. These are fairly easy practices to include into the workplace environment,” said Dr Farhana Bin Lootah, specialist in internal medicine and lead of the structured education programme "Sukkari", Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.
Nasrallah, Bin Lootah and Dr Fatih Mehmet Gul are judges of the Daman corporate health awards.
“Improving staff health leads to greater productivity, reduced absenteeism and ultimately, results in lower insurance premiums. Corporate wellness programmes allow HR managers go change the way employees think about health – through awareness – and putting in place initiatives to improve it,” said Dr Michael Bitzer, CEO of National Health Insurance Company, Daman.
The rationale for workplace wellness programmes stems in part from the fact that many employees spend the majority of their day at work, making it a logical course of action for companies to invest in their wellbeing.
Some of the simple, cost-effective initiatives organisations could implement include, “encouraging use of the stairs instead of elevators, starting a lunchtime walking group, and eliminating in-office food and beverages which are high in sugar, fat or calories. Such initiatives require little time commitment or lifestyle change, making them approachable ways for employees to begin or continue a focus on wellness,” suggests Dr Marc Harrison, chief executive officer, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
The biggest obstacle preventing the adoption of corporate wellness programmes in the UAE could be misguided perceptions. According to Nasrallah, “Employee wellness is still a relatively young topic in the UAE and is viewed as a privilege rather than a requirement. One of the key challenges is securing buy-in from management (cost-benefit analysis), and from the employees themselves to encourage them to participate.”
Through the Daman corporate health awards, organisers hope to make a difference in highlighting the importance and value of promoting workplace health and wellness. – TradeArabia News Service