'Being healthy’ is one of the top three priorities of professionals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In fact, the Bayt.com Career Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa survey, December 2013, shows that the top priorities in life for MENA professionals are 1) to have a successful career (64%), 2) to be financially stable (60%), and 3) to enjoy good health (54%).
Professionals in the MENA are becoming increasingly healthier; today, the men and women of the MENA region are more aware of the positive effects of an active and balanced lifestyle and they make better choices when it comes to their health and wellness. According to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, March 2016, 65% of MENA professionals are adopting healthier eating habits. The same poll also shows that most of them take the time to exercise, with only 5.6% of all respondents being not active at all.
The benefits of healthy employees are numerous. There are many benefits from a monetary stand point: a healthy employee is less likely to get sick, so no more absenteeism and extravagant healthcare expenditures for you. Other benefits include having focused employees with more energy at work. Healthy employees also tend to have a higher level of self-confidence and will inspire confidence in others around them. Employees who know how to set and stick to health goals will be goal-oriented in every other aspect of their life, including their career.
But whose responsibility is it to encourage employees to lead a healthier life? Bayt.com has investigated this question and according to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, March 2016, it is YOU. In fact, the poll results show that the majority of respondents (96%) think it is an employer’s responsibility to promote employees’ health and wellness.
I can proudly speak of Bayt.com and say that it believes in the power of a healthy workforce. Our award-winning company actively encourages all employees to lead a healthy life, both inside and outside the office. Pantries across our 14 offices are stocked daily with fresh fruits and vegetables, and our leisure rooms have various activities to keep everyone moving and thinking. To top it all, each employee at Bayt.com has an annual fitness allowance to join a gym of their choice!
As an employer, there are things that you can do to encourage employees’ health and wellness. Here’s a guide to help you.
1. Be supportive. While many employees may think of their employer as the source of their income, you have much more influence than you think on their lives. Communicate with employees, demonstrate healthier behaviors, and support their health goals and personal resolutions. It may be that small word of encouragement from senior management that helps jump-start a healthier lifestyle for an employee. 15.8% of respondents to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, mentioned a ‘lack of management support’ as the main barrier preventing them from achieving a healthy lifestyle.
2. Encourage exercise. Having a walking club, offering free gym subscriptions and gym allowances and allowing employees to alter their work schedule to ensure they can work out as often as needed are all things you could do to promote a healthier workforce. 87.1% of respondents to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll claimed that they would more likely exercise if their company offered had a gym or offered a gym subscription.
3. Bring the doctor in. Major lifestyle changes don’t happen at once, and having some tips on how to make the small changes lead to bigger results can help your workforce stay committed and motivated toward their health goals. 30% of respondents to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll say their busy schedule is the biggest barrier that prevent them from being healthy. Contact a doctor, dietitian, personal trainer or any other certified health provider, to come to your company and provide information on health and wellness, nutrition tips, and even give a personal health assessment to your employees.
4. Be active together. If you are planning to have a team building event or have an upcoming team meeting planned, try doing it in a setting where employees are required to increase their physical activity. According to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, some of the most popular forms of exercises among MENA professionals are running/walking (29.7%), intramural sports (17.8%), and weight lifting (14.6%).
5. Create a reward or incentive program. When asked about the barriers that stand in the way of making healthy choices, 15.3% of respondents to the Bayt.com ‘Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll stated that they simply lack the motivation to do so. Sometimes some sort of monetized or extrinsic reward is exactly what some employees might need. The rewards don’t have to be grand or expensive, just as long as they are after every checkpoint within the employee’s plan to make healthier choices. These rewards could be a $20 gift card to the employee who gave up smoking, or an extra vacation day to the employee who lost the most weight in any given month. The rewards can even be incentives that have no monetary value, such as a ‘Healthy Employee of the Month’ award – just an extra push to help employees go the extra mile.
This article originally appeared in Bayt.com.
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