Wednesday 08, November 2017 by Jessica Combes

Most employees would be more productive if they were happier

 

In an effort to help employers understand what motivates employees to be more productive, Oman Insurance Company (OIC) and Bupa Global conducted a study to find out how much workplace productivity hinges on happiness and how businesses can help.

The findings of the study will be discussed amongst decision makers and employers attending the 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 per cent 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 per cent, whilst those with high levels increased by 19.2 per cent.

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, 69 per cent 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.

Idilby added that the survey shows that over 72 per cent 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 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 per cent of respondents reported being happiest at work in the morning, with over 67 per cent 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.

“Employers of small to medium size businesses do not 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,” said Idilby.

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 do not 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 do not 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.