In recent times, many famous people – from athlete Naomi Osaka, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and even Prince Harry – have joined the conversation about their personal mental health challenges, placing a highlight on a topic that was considered taboo for decades.
While much has been achieved, still more need to be done, particularly considering the recent pandemic which has deepened the difficulties faced by many of us.
According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), since March 2020, depression and anxiety have as much as doubled in a number of countries.
According to the World Health Organization, as many as 12 billion workdays are lost yearly due to anxiety and depression. This equals to a cost of about $1 trillion annually. Businesses and communities that do not address workplace stress do so at their own risk.
As current megatrends and technologies have amplified the “always on” culture and blurred the office/home distinction, businesses need to be more proactive in supporting and enhancing their employees’ holistic wellbeing.
Business owners will struggle with this unless they truly understand the importance of developing a People First Approach to a healthy and happy workplace.
We have put together two simple guidelines to help you through this path:
ENCOURAGE OPEN COMMUNICATION
According to a McKinsey study, 70% of employees reported that their work defines their sense of purpose. Whether you like it or not, as a company leader, you play a part in tapping into people’s emotion and intuition, which means being truly human, and showing compassion, humility and openness.
Businesses that wish to retain top talent must embrace a culture where employees feel supported in their life outside of the workplace and are free to speak about issues that are important to them, including their own state of mental health.
At IFZA, we manifest the principle of open communication in a number of ways.
Despite the rapid growth that we have experienced, we continue to be a small organization at heart by keeping our hierarchy flat, working with empowered teams, and encouraging an open-door policy not only between heads of department and their team members, but also across departments. This allows us to encourage the formation of strong relationships and increase our responsiveness to the needs of both our Free Zone community and the overall business climate.
Stress is an expected part of the professional working environment. On an average week, employees encounter a stress-inducing event or condition 36% of the time.
Resilience does not remove stress; however, it describes a person’s capacity to recover from the effects of stress.
One way that businesses can help build resilience is by adopting agile practices.
For example, at the height of the Covid 10 pandemic, IFZA was at the forefront of adopting hybrid systems that made possible both in-person and remote processes of setting up business in Dubai. This provided flexibility not only for our Partners and Licensees, but also for our employees as well.
This goes hand in hand with the initiatives of IFZA Human Resources Department that have been designed with a holistic scope in mind, from trainings programs on professional skills, employee breakfasts that provide opportunities to highlight healthy habits, staff celebrations and community outreaches through IFZA Cares that provide channels for employee engagement not only in business, but also beyond it. When intervention is needed, IFZA employees are also able to tap support from mental health professionals as part of its group medical insurance coverage under IFZA Life.
When holistic well-being is recognized as a core benefit alongside standard incentives, it can create more value for the organization, improving talent retention and attraction, while safeguarding people’s welfare.