What to consider before making an offer to a candidate

Reading the papers, you’ll have noticed more articles focusing on the latest recruitment drives. Last year may have been challenging for some industries and new projects have led to increased optimism for business growth during the first quarter of 2019. With companies looking to stabilise and expand their operations, having the right people is vital. Whether you are backfilling a role or are creating a new position, consider these points before making any offers.

Define the vacancy

Recruiting for a role presents an opportunity which too many businesses ignore. It’s the perfect time to review the organisation’s and department’s needs as well as current processes and workflows. Hiring managers and HR should take the time and evaluate what and who is required to achieve the departmental goals and consequently the overall business goals.

Once the needs have been identified, a job description can be written or updated. In the past, job descriptions have focused on the tasks, required skills and experience. These days, they also include competencies, setting expectations for performance and behaviour. The job description should also outline the purpose of the role. While every generation is looking for meaningful work, millennials in particular are keen to make a difference and need to see how they can make a change early on in the job description.

The job description can form the basis for interview questions and other approaches to selecting the most suitable candidate. It also supports the induction and the identification of any knowledge gaps, which can be including in the induction programme or an individualised learning and development plan. Job descriptions can also be reviewed when setting goals and evaluating performance. Given the versatile use of job descriptions, care should be taken when writing or updating them.

In this region, certain roles in specified industries may only be open to candidates from a specific nationality (e.g. Emiratisation and other nationalisation programmes). Some roles may require a specific qualification (e.g. university degree) to obtain the necessary visa and work permit. If such requirements exist, they need to be mentioned in the job description and when advertising the vacancy to avoid wasting time and disappointment – for both the organisation and the candidate. It should be clear that job descriptions should not contain any discriminatory language.

Once the role has been defined, an avatar for the ideal candidate can be created. Some companies want a twin of the employee who’s moving on. Others choose the complete opposite. We suggest organisations reflect on the person’s characteristics to successfully perform the role (think needs again). Only after they’ve been defined should the desirables be added. While certain qualifications may be beneficial, are they really necessary and potential limit the pool of suitable candidates? For example, does a Personal Assistant require a master’s degree to carry out their job?

Find the most suitable candidate

Whether the organisation has an in-house recruiter or engages an external recruitment agency, the selection process can be excessively long. Candidates are generally not interviewing with just one company. Being asked to meet every stakeholder can be a constraint on their time, especially if they are working and need to request time off to attend each interview. Consider holding interview panels where a number of stakeholders meet the candidate simultaneously.

Many companies rely on interviews alone. This does not give a holistic overview of the candidate’s experience, knowledge and skills. If foreign languages are required for the role, a simple language test can give clarity about their fluency. The same can be done for technical or computer skills. Role plays and assessment centres form other ways to validate the candidate’s suitability.

While senior stakeholders have an opportunity to meet the candidate, organisations are generally excluding the team from the selection process. Empower them and involve the team in the process. They can pre-select candidates, conduct the first round of interview or, alternatively, come in at a later stage by meeting the final candidates for coffee or lunch. Cultural fit is too important to be ignored.

References should be obtained once the suitable candidate has been identified. Some companies may not allow their staff to provide any references and only personal references may be possible. In some jurisdictions, references may not say anything negative about a candidate. This needs to be kept in mind when seeking references from abroad.

Extend the offer

Once the candidate has been selected, the most appropriate employment contract needs to be chosen. A limited contract for a fixed-term period may be used for projects with a specific duration (e.g. construction or software implementation). If the vacancy is a permanent role, an unlimited or open-ended contract would be more suitable. As each contract type has advantages and disadvantages (e.g. payment of end-of-service benefits differs), this should be carefully considered and possibly with the input from the organisation’s legal team.

Just like the lengthy interview process, obtaining the required approvals may also extend the timeline. If the approval process within an organisation is long, this can already be outlined during the final interviews to manage expectations. To not lose a candidate, regular communication with them directly or to the external recruitment agency is important. Candidates may wait if they know that the company is getting ready to provide them with an offer. Not knowing that an offer can be expected, the candidate may accept another offer instead.

When interviewing and then presenting the offer, organisations need to outline the total package. This would include the salary and allowances but also benefits (e.g. medical insurance, increased end-of-service benefits) and non-financials like working from home, training, career progression and recognition. Even though salaries have dropped for certain roles and industries, a candidate may want to negotiate a higher package.

Companies need to be clear to what degree they are willing to negotiate. Some may have the flexibility to offer a higher package. Others value their non-compensation related offering more and are therefore not willing to negotiate with the candidates. This may even mean letting a candidate go as their expectations can no longer be managed within the framework of the hiring company. To avoid this scenario, the hiring team needs to carefully evaluate suitable candidates and expectations – both from the company and the candidate – before they’re too far into the process. Unfortunately, the danger of wasted time, feeling of frustration and negative impressions of the other party are mentioned too often.

Benefit from a clear and effective recruitment process. Recruit candidates from talent pools that your competitors don’t recognise. Contact us and find out how we can help you make strategic workforce decisions to positively impact your business growth.

Your mission for 2018: Overcome the challenges

The calendar year is nearing its end and many of us are using this time for reflection. What have we achieved in 2017? What went really well? Which areas do we need to improve next year? What will we make our top priority?

It’s also the time to look ahead and prepare for the new year. In 2018, we’ll see various changes and challenges in this region. How ready is your business for them?

VAT

The probably biggest change to our daily life will be the implementation of VAT on 1 January 2018. Large organisations should have completed their VAT registrations by now and have adjusted their procedures to comply with the new reporting requirements. Smaller companies which fall below the mandatory threshold may want to be proactive and learn how they can be best prepared for VAT reporting, once their revenue exceeds AED 375,000.

VAT and financial wellbeing

Many employees are already stressed about their finances and spend 80 minutes per working day worrying about them. The questions often asked is “Will 5% for VAT be added to my pay increase?” Most companies are not prepared to increase their merit budgets for VAT. The Minister for Financial Affairs, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, is expecting VAT to have minimal impact on people and investment and as such, no increase in salaries to cope with VAT will be provided.

Companies will thus need to focus on financial wellbeing initiatives to reduce the productivity lost due to employees being pre-occupied with their money concerns. This can start by providing basic personal finance education and go further with personalised debt consolidation and individual investment support for retirement both through a third-party provider.

Making total rewards count

The financial wellbeing initiatives need to fit into the total rewards strategy in a holistic way. These days, every dollar counts and organisations can no longer afford to just throw money at a people problem. Instead, companies need to be more strategic about the total rewards offered to their staff.

HR and in particular Total Rewards professionals have to establish targeted rewards which are both cost effective for the organisation and valued by the employee. Finding the appropriate mix of financial and non-financial rewards for a multi-cultural workforce was already challenging. In 2018, Generation Z will enter the workforce, adding to the complexity of looking after also a multi-generational workforce (baby boomers, Generation X and millennials). Traditional rewards models with a one size fits all approach will no longer be sufficient.

Organisations are urged to offer out of the box benefits. Flexible working hours with core hours for professional employee is no longer enough. An educational allowance for work-related courses or 1-2 hours each week at work to attend webinars or a book club which discusses business-related topics during lunch are easy to implement, supporting employees in their current role and improving their creativity. Rewarding employees for their length of service is generally done in 5-year-intervals (e.g. 5, 10 or 15 years). Why not issue service awards after 3, 5, 7 and 10 years? These can be made with a public announcement and a thank you letter issued by the CEO and don’t always have to be of a monetary nature, still contributing to employee engagement.

Rise in automation

Demands for increased productivity requires changes in business procedures and calls for increased workplace automation. Willis Towers Watson expects automated work to almost double in the next three years.

The move towards cloud-based HR systems like SuccessFactors or Workday is not only for large corporations. Small and medium sized companies are also transitioning to centralised HR systems which support self-service functions for their managers and employees.

To embrace and maximise automation, companies should consider deconstructing jobs to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of work. Employees whose jobs are subsumed by automation need to be reskilled and matched with new work opportunities.

Continued emphasis on big data

In 2018, HR professionals must finally lose their fear of numbers, working in excel and running deeper analyses. HR needs to utilise data as visuals (e.g. graphs, charts or tables) when sharing their insights with the business and when recommending and influencing the business and/or HR strategy, programmes and initiatives.

If not already done, leaders need to evaluate their team’s expertise and qualitative knowledge to identify the appropriate training opportunities. Building up HR’s capacity, training has to become targeted for the individual’s jobs and their dealings with data analytics.

Increased performance

Transforming organisations into high performing ones will remain a major topic in 2018. After all, an increase in performance will lead to increased efficiencies which translates into increase revenue. Which company can afford to miss out on this?

For employees to see the link between their individual activities and the organisation’s success, a requirement for engagement and performance, leaders have to create meaningful goals and provide constructive and on-going feedback throughout the year. Providing employees with the tools and skills to perform, a trend towards personal development plans for the current role, future assignments and personal interests can be noticed.

Is your company ready to face these challenges in 2018? Do you want to benefit from targeted HR initiatives to increase your organisation’s efficiency? Call us on +971-52-2516322 and find out how we can help you develop a high performing culture that embraces technological changes to achieve increased productivity and sales.

Retirement – are your employees saving enough?

The cost of living is rising, VAT will be introduced shortly, merit increases are expected to remain flat. Is it surprising that employees worry about their finances? Probably not, but you may be shocked that it’s taking 81 minutes away from them every working day! Can your organisation afford such a loss in productivity?

We met with Martin McGuigan, Partner at AON Hewitt in Dubai, to find out how companies can pro-actively support their employees’ financial wellbeing and prepare them for retirement.

The underestimated problem

In this region, we have it all. Our workforce is multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-general. Finding a common ground isn’t always easy. Yet, what we can easily identify is that most employees don’t save enough for retirement. While this is not a new phenomenon around the world, it’s consequences are far more impactful here.

We are facing a significant number of employees who are financially illiterate, who are unable to create and/or stick to a budget and who, although not all, are prone to keeping up with the Joneses and are thus accumulating debt. All too often, employees are looking at their end of service gratuity as a way to fix these issues in one go. Unfortunately, end of service gratuity is limited and cannot be used as a fulfilling way to plan for retirement.

To put another damper on it, the traditional 3 pillars of retirement planning don’t apply to the majority of employees in this region.

  1. The first pillar of social security applies to local nationals only. While there are agreements among GCC member states for retirement contributions in place, most employees here aren’t GCC nationals. Their home countries may also restrict the availability of withdrawals from their social security system, if the individual re-joined after a specific age or has made no or only limited contributions. Expats seem unaware of their home country regulations and employers don’t view it as their responsibility to educate their employees about social security systems outside their geographic jurisdiction.
  2. The second pillar comprises employer sponsored plans. 401(k) programmes in the US or other defined benefits schemes are not prevalent in this region. Many companies offer only the legally required end-of-service (EOS) gratuity, although an increasing trend to enhance it has been witnessed since 2011 according to Willis Towers Watson. Employees all too often over-estimate the amount of EOS gratuity. Paid out as a cash lump sum on the last working day, individuals rather pay off personal debt than invest into their own retirement fund.
  3. The third pillar thus depends on the employee being pro-active and preparing with personal savings and investment plans. With employees unaware of the amount required for their retirement in their home country or another country, the thought and more importantly the actions for their own retirement savings are postponed. Starting at a younger age and benefiting from compound interest can reduce the required amounts, especially when compared to someone only starting at the age of 40.

How to support employees

McGuigan emphasised the need for organisations to make planning for retirement easy for their employees. Employees often fear that their investments are locked away and only available upon payment of high penalties. Instead, they are looking for accessibility, flexibility and transferability in an employer-sponsored retirement scheme.

Companies are urged to educate their employees on a daily basis. While the employer has traditionally been seen as a paternal protector who will handle it for the employee, times are changing and employees need to start taking care of their own future. As such, organisations can support their employees during this transition, suggested by McGuigan as follows:

  1. Include retirement planning in everyday conversations. Organisations need to de-mystify retirement planning and make it easy for employees to ask about it. Employees need to become aware of the topic, then learn more about it and finally take specific actions towards it. The company can assess the maturity of their employees by speaking to them and only afterwards designing specific initiatives.
  2. Auto-enrolment into a company-sponsored retirement plan. Since the employee will benefit from such plans in the future, they will need to take conscious steps to opt out of these plans. Employees experience peace of mind by contributing to these plans and can focus on their work and life again.
  3. Utilise modern technology every day. While not everyone has access to a computer, most employees have a smart phone. Apps either from their scheme provider or built inhouse can be used to teach introductory courses like Finance 101 and investments for beginners, develop investment strategies and show the development of the employee’s investment portfolio.

The benefits for the employer

Organisations that provide education and support around retirement planning to their employees are recognising the overall improvement in their employees’ financial wellbeing. In return, employees are experiencing less financial stress and they spend less time worrying.

This translates into more time for productivity, higher engagement and increased results. Studies have also been shown that financial wellbeing programmes are effective retention tools. All these are good news for a company!

Do you want to benefit from increased engagement by educating your employees about retirement? Are you looking for the latest insights and guidance to introduce effective benefits initiatives? Call us on +971-52-2516322 and find out how we can help you manifest a culture that supports its employees’ financial wellbeing while achieving increased productivity and sales.

 

Are your employees heading towards burnout?

These days, many employees are facing crowed roads and packed trains on their commute. They spent long hours in traditional workplaces without pleasing aesthetics trying to juggle conflicting activities and unrealistic targets. Worries about rising cost of living, anxiety about keeping their job and stress on the home front can pre-occupy employees, negatively impacting their performance at work. Without appropriate support the individual may be heading towards burnout. Would you recognise such an employee?

In this month’s newsletter, we’ve interviewed two recognised experts in this field and are providing you with insights and tips to best support your employees while creating better business results.

What is burnout?

Herbert Freudenberger coined burnout in 1974 as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” While he focused on “helping” professions like doctors, nurses or police officers, burnout is no longer restricted to specific roles. Contemporary definitions see burnout having far wider reach across the individual, professions and industries:

“Burnout is the index of the dislocation between what people are and what they have to do. It represents an erosion in values, dignity, spirit, and will — an erosion of the human soul.” (Maslach and Leiter)

“Burnout syndrome [is] defined as a three-dimensional syndrome that considers emotional exhaustion, de-personalisation and reduced personal accomplishment.” (Briones Mella and Kinkead Boutin)

“Burnout is being physically and emotionally exhausted as a result of long term stress.” (Figley, Ph.D.)

What are the signs of burnout?

Stress and burnout may often be confused by the untrained eye. Signs of being burnt out include:

  • General low
  • Cynical and negative outlook
  • Lack of motivation
  • Reduced performance and quality of work
  • Feeling tired, drained and low
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Poor immunity
  • Retraction from work and social interactions

Dr. Asad Sadiq, Managing Director – Psychiatrist at The Psychiatry and Therapy Centre, provides a simplified differentiator between stress and burnout. For a stressed employee, work (or other parts of life) becomes “too much”. In contrast, burnout gives the individual the feeling of not being “good enough”. They can no longer function, are empty and feel dried up on the inside.

What causes burnout?

Burnout can have various sources and the Mayo Clinic identified a number of job-related factors:

  • Lack of control (e.g. around work schedule, assignments or workload)
  • Lack of resources
  • Unclear job expectations
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
  • Mismatch in values
  • Poor job fit
  • Extremes of activity
  • Lack of social support
  • Work-life imbalance

How can organisations prevent burnout?

Recognising changed behaviours requires line managers to know their employees in the first place as Humaira Anwar, Chartered Occupational Psychologist at Innovative HR, explains. Organisations can use personality and behavioural assessments like Hogan Darkside to learn more about their employees. Line managers can use these insights and their daily interactions with their team to spot changes in the individual. During times of extreme stress, an employee’s strength may be over-used, becoming a negative like a hinderance or performance blockades.

Dr. Sadiq points out the need for an open and safe culture. In this region, it’s still regarded as a weakness for men to acknowledge the feeling of being overwhelmed (stressed) or feeling hopeless (burnout). Other parts of the world have made some progress to remove the stigma, yet, it’s still visible. Many male employees, especially in higher positions, are concerned about their career when speaking out about stress and burnout. All too often, employees think it’s only them feeling exhausted or low. Only in confidential session with a coach, psychologist or psychiatrist do individuals recognise that the issue is far wider spread.

In an environment that allows employees to speak out, companies can offer targeted support to the individual. This cultural transition comes from the top and leadership has to be an active driver for the new agenda. It’s becoming more widespread for organisations to support senior leaders with their own coach working with them on a work level and a personal level. As a result, “safe culture” companies experience a far lower loss in productivity and absences compared to other organisations.

Unfortunately, for many, this transient region is experiencing high turnover rates and companies are using these rates to not invest in their employees. The ROI periods are deemed too long for them. As a consequence, employees don’t feel valued, are stressed and not engaged. Still, Dr. Sadiq emphasises, employees want to be looked after and base their intend to stay on the company’s well-designed wellbeing programmes.

This supports findings that work is more than just a pay check. Employees are furthermore looking for a purpose in their role, an opportunity to make a difference and being empowered to do so. Line managers can utilise a job description to clarify the role and highlight its linkage to the success of the organisation.

A job description can also be used to identify training and learning needs and as a benchmark for performance discussions. Providing an employee with the right tools and knowledge is just as important as setting achievable targets and having realistic performance expectations. Rather than waiting for the end of the annual performance cycle, employees are looking for continuous feedback. Managers need to be equipped to also act as coaches who are giving constructive feedback helping the individual to improve rather than feeling put down.

In addition, employees are seeking more involvement around their role. Setting annual goals is only done jointly with 30% of employees according to Gallup’s “2017 State of the Global Workplace” survey. Most organisations follow a top down approach when deriving annual targets. By using also a bottom up approach in the goal setting process, higher rates of alignment and buy in are achieved, resulting in higher productivity and achievement of the set targets.

Finally, organisations can create internal support networks, which are especially in expatriate locations as Anwar points out. Company sponsored social groups can be established by interest, e.g. running or yoga group, or be linked to a CSR objective, e.g. environment protection group. Studies have shown that team members have benefited from increased communication and better team working while fostering improved personal relations.

Do you want to improve the lives of your employees and prevent burnout with pro-active initiatives? Do you simultaneously want to benefit from more engaged employees and higher revenue? Call us on +971-52-2516322 and find out how we can help you manifest a culture that supports your employees physical and mental wellbeing while achieving increased productivity and sales.

What’s your medical benefits strategy?

Since 2016, all companies based in Dubai need to offer health insurance to their employees and it’s one of the areas in HR where you can make the biggest difference. But do you really know what your medical benefits strategy is set to achieve?

In this month’s newsletter, we’re guiding you to define and finalise your medical benefits strategy. Identifying the objectives of your medical benefits is the first step. Do you have only one or a number of goals you need and/or want to accomplish? Ask yourself:

  • Is there a need or desire to control costs?
  • Can and should medical benefits be used as an attraction and retention tool?
  • What kind of customer experience do you want to offer your employees?
  • Is there a need to change your employees’ behaviour?
  • Is compliance to any laws or regulations required?
  • How do you want to administer the plan?
  • To what degree do you want to leverage technology?
  • How can you effectively communicate the philosophy, policy and insurance to all employees?
  • How does it all fit into your total rewards strategy and your overarching employee value proposition (EVP)?

Cost control

In this region, medical inflation was valued around 15-20% for several years. While it has slightly reduced recently, your company may be faced with double digit premium increases. How sustainable are these increases year over year? Identifying insurance schemes that are proactive in patient management to help members (employees) handle their conditions and ensure they are taking the appropriate medication at the right time and dose can support your goal of controlling costs without reducing quality care. Other options to controlling costs include pre-authorisation of specific areas of cover or working within a well-defined network of healthcare providers.

Attraction and retention tool

Listening to their employees, some companies have realised how much staff is valuing medical benefits for themselves and their family. Not having to worry about the expenses related to their own or their dependents’ chronic condition can alleviate financial worries and increase employee’s engagement and productivity.

Providing above the range medical benefits can also act as an attraction tool for candidates. While in the past, pre-existing conditions may not have been covered, Dubai based insurance scheme now include them. However, the treatment amounts may not be sufficient for chronically ill individuals. Offering a scheme that looks after existing as well as future illnesses can give candidates also that peace of mind. My new employer is looking after me!

Customer experience

Progressive companies have changed their perception and are treating their HR services like retail experiences. They are transforming HR from paper to digital and are imitating the online shopping feel from large retailers, providing a customer (employee) focused experience.

Employee behaviour

Using focus sessions, surveys or regular interaction with employees, you can find out what your staff truly values. Understanding their needs, you can review to what degree the health insurance can be tailored. Depending on your philosophy, you may offer employees options to purchase additional coverage at their own expense. Think of the cafeteria-style or flexible benefits model.

In this region, however, employees view their health insurance card as a credit card. It’s another way of getting more money from their employer, although not in direct cash. As a consequence, certain benefits like dental and wellbeing are highly utilised. Do you want to exclude certain benefits as a result?

With health care professionals also oversubscribing medication, employees may not realise the total cost of a single consultation. Companies can increase co-pay and deductibles to encourage employees to think about the necessity to visit their doctor.

Yet, companies need to educate employees and highlight the consequences of a highly utilised scheme. While the costs will be primarily borne the company, premiums need to be sustainable or the company may need to modify its scheme or change to a lower insurance cover and/or provider. How can you communicate this message to employees?

Compliance

Laws and regulations can change and it’s vital to take out compliant plans to avoid financial or other fines. If you have employees working in different emirates, do you want to reduce the administrative burdens and select one plan, even if it’s covering more than required by law? Your insurance representative or broker can also give you insights into the latest legal developments.

Administration

Some HR teams want to be heavily involved in the administration of the scheme while others get accidentally drawn into it. How easy will it be for your team to extract the appropriate employee information from an existing HR database? If the personal data isn’t readily available, administrative tasks may take over your HR operations especially during the renewal periods.

You may need to consider your current situation: Does your team have the time and the skills to effectively manage the plan? Would you save time and money and create more focus and efficiency by letting your broker or insurer handle it all?

Technology

Technology can make your life easier, provided the data is up-to-date and accurate. While it does not only support the administrative involvement of the HR team, employees can also experience faster service with the right apps.

Many insurers are thus providing paper-less claims, online information centres and webinars. Gamification is applied to help members finally live the healthier and more active life they always wanted. It further supports individuals managing their condition effectively. Teledoctors are another way to provide effective services via a smart phone.

Communication

When defining your medical benefits strategy, don’t forget to include communication. Effective communication with executives differs from effective communication with factory employees. Tailor the communication for each audience, using different channels and being open to receiving feedback.

Which tools can you use? Depending on your organisation and workforce, there’s a plethora ranging from apps for the mobile phone to traditional all hands meetings. How will you deliver on your key message, promote your offerings and demonstrate the value to your employees?

Overarching alignment

As you are defining your medical benefits strategy, review how it aligns to your organisation’s total rewards strategy and your employee value proposition (EVP). Your EVP determines your total rewards strategy which then creates your medical benefits strategy. It should not be the other way around.

EVP.JPG
A medical benefits strategy which stands in contradiction to your other HR programmes and initiatives may be perceived as meaningless by your employees. Your executive team may further question the missing alignment and more severely your overall HR function.

Demonstrate your leadership by clearly linking each strategy. Speak with your broker, insurer or obtain other external expertise to support you in defining and implementing your medical benefits strategy.

Feeling overwhelmed with your medical benefits strategy? Don’t know where to start to formalise or redefine it? Call us on +971-52-2516322 and find out how we can create, enhance and implement a medical benefits strategy fit for your EVP and organisation.

Keep your employee files up-to-date

How often have you looked for a specific document in an employee’s file only to find it missing? How often have you seen your HR team keep confidential documents laying on their desk after work? How often have you discovered a bunch of employee documents in the drawer of your team member who’s left your company 2 days ago?

We have to face the naked truth: Nobody likes to file!

Yet, it’s so important that we keep employee files up-to-date. On one hand, we have a legal obligation to keep at least basic personnel files. If your organisation is ISO certified or working towards it, accurate personnel files will need to be aligned to their standards and your internal procedures.

Effective employee file management, however, goes above meeting mandated requirements and standards. It also supports the effectiveness of your organisation. Providing accurate employee information in a timely manner builds credibility of your HR team. Having all the data available, your team can carry out meaningful analyses and analytics, not only helping you to introduce the appropriate programmes but also confirming the importance of HR as a partner to drive the business forward.

Let’s have a look at the components of an effective employee file management starting with what should actually be kept in a personnel file.

 

Legal requirements

Article 53 of the UAE Labour Law (Federal Law No. 8 of 1980) outlines the legal requirements for employee files. For each employee, a company shall create a personnel file which includes:

  1. The employee’s “name, profession, age, nationality, place of residence, marital status, effective date of service, pay and whatever changes effected on the pay, penalties invoked against him, injuries and vocational diseases sustained by him, date of service termination and causes of that.”
  2. In addition, leave plans need to be kept for annual leave, sick leave and other leaves.

These requirements are straightforward and form a basic employee file.

 

Best practices

Best practices go above the legal mandates and suggest including the following information, too:

  1. Recruiting documents, e.g. CVs, application forms, copies of the university degree or other educational documents, assessments, references and background checks, onboarding checklists, relocation documents
  2. Personal documents, e.g. copies of passport, residence visa and Emirates ID, emergency contacts, home address
  3. Job description and relevant competencies
  4. Contractual documents, e.g. employment offers, employment contracts, agreements with recruitment company, letters re promotion, demotion, transfer and layoff
  5. Compensation and benefits documents, e.g. letters re salary increases or annual total cash/rewards statements, pay advances, loans, ad hoc bonus, short or long-term incentives or anything else related to a change in compensation and benefits
  6. Insurance documents, e.g. medical insurance certificates
  7. Performance and development documents, e.g. education and training records, goal setting records, performance reviews and evaluations, recognition letters, commendations and awards
  8. Disciplinary documents, e.g. warnings, counselling and disciplinary notices, performance improvement plans (PIPs), investigation records
  9. Claim documents, e.g. worker’s compensation claims
  10. Time and attendance documents, e.g. leave requests
  11. Records relating to other employment practices, e.g. policy acknowledgments and agreements
  12. Termination records, e.g. resignation or termination letters, end of service benefits documents, relocation documents, exit interview documents, offboarding checklist, copy of terminated visa.

Your organisation may choose to keep additional documents. If you retain more information, be careful not to make it a filing exercises. Instead, ask yourself what you’re achieving by keeping that specific document.

 

Paper vs. electronic personnel files

The UAE government introduced an initiative to be paperless by 2021. Smart Dubai 2021 is under way and especially organisations with international operations or multiple locations in the UAE are also reviewing their options to reduce their paperwork.

Working remotely, you still want to have the same access as in the office. Many cloud-based applications can provide such solutions and you may want to take it further by also generating an electronic personnel file. After all, most information would be created electronically anyway.

Electronic personnel files where you save all documents in a folder on a secured drive can save you physical filing and archiving space. You can print out documents as needed for audits, reducing your printing costs. HR software like SuccessFactor or Workday store actions like performance reviews and act as an extended personnel file. The solutions are focusing on the employee being pro-active, e.g. updating their home address when needed rather than being asked by HR to verify their recorded home address.

Electronic employee files, however, also bring some risks. Cyberattacks in June have paralysed numerous companies including Maersk and operations came to almost a stand still. In these extreme situations, paper files would have been a welcomed alternative.

If you keep electronic employee files, make them save by applying passwords. Backup electronic employee files regularly to not lose any data.

 

Restricted access and secure storage

Whether you have a paper-based or electronic personnel file, the content is confidential and personal and access needs to be limited. It should only be given to those with a business need, i.e. the head of the department. Not even every HR team member will need to have access to all personnel files and these restrictions would apply to them too. If the employee wants to access their file, it will need to be made available to them in a timely manner.

To safeguard the employee files, keep them in a fireproof filing cabinet which can be locked. Best practice would indicate to only open the cabinets when a file is required.

Don’t forget to also keep the keys safe. Keeping it in the pencil holder case of the HR admin might be a very popular location, however, it can be found by individuals within seconds.

 

Timely filing and appropriate archiving

All employees currently working for your company should have their personnel files stored in an “active employee” section. Review these files and remove any employees no longer with the organisation. An employee who have left the organisation 3 years ago should no longer be kept in the active section and their file should be archived in the leavers section.

All too often, filing is the least desired activity and hence ignored. Rather than organising a filing marathon, implement a culture where a specific time is dedicated to filing each day or week. This could be right after lunch when people are generally sluggish or on days when business is slow.

If you’ve ignored filing for some time, some time will be required and you may enlist the appropriate team members. Should you hire external help, ensure that any contractor has signed a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement before they start filing.

Filing is of course not restricted to paper files only. Move the electronic files into the appropriate folders (e.g. share drive or the electronic employee file). Too many HR admins and professional save employee documents only on their personal drive. This undermines the desire to also have an electronic personnel file and information within it is not complete.

There are various negative consequences of electronic files being stored locally only: The HR member did not back up their laptop, the laptop is infected with a virus and the files disappear. Think about a crash of an older laptop, leading to the same effect.

Another horrible outcome is an HR team member referring to the electronic employee file, missing important information saved only on the personal hard drive of their colleague. This can also happen for paper files when the documents haven’t been filed yet. An HR member has left the organisation and when cleaning their desk, you find heaps of documents meant for the employee files, all left to be filled.

 

Audits

Before you’re notified of an internal or external audit taking place, be pro-active and review the personnel files (whether paper or electronic) for completeness and accuracy on a regular basis.

  • Is anything kept that doesn’t belong there? For example, expired warning letters
  • Is anything missing? Request the information from the employee. You may need to notify the line manager (e.g. outstanding performance reviews) or external provider like your medical insurer (e.g. medical insurance information)
  • Has anything been updated since the last file review but it’s not reflected? For example, a new employee handbook has been distributed, yet, not all acknowledgements have been recorded in the personnel files.

Effective personnel file management is attainable! Review on your current practices, identify any gaps and create an action plan to maintain up-to-date personnel file. Contact us and find out how we can support you and your team in creating complete employment files.

How to determine your salary increase budget

It may only be July, yet for many Comp & Ben teams, it’s also the month to start the annual salary planning process. Next year’s salary increases need to be budgeted, validated during a number of reviews before they can be finalised and signed off at the end of the year. What do you need to include to determine your next budget?

Fundamental considerations

Company performance and the ability to pay. If you had a good year but are still recovering, a one-time bonus payment may be an alternative to an increase. It won’t have any long-term implications like a regular increase does and won’t impact the end-of-service benefits, pension contributions, if any, or the annual bonus.

It may, however, send a mixed message to employees and requires appropriate communication in advance to them. Outline the reasons for your decision, be transparent with your employees and show, if possible, any positive outcomes (e.g. redundancies can be avoided).

Location and industry-specific practices. While it’s beneficial to know the salary increase projections for your location of operations, you also want to benchmark against other companies within your industry. Often, salary increase forecast surveys differentiate between general industry and specific industries like pharma & health sciences, high tech, manufacturing or retail. By participating in these third-party surveys, you’ll obtain the information broken down by job, level, different percentiles and industry without revealing the actual organisation. Industry-specific forums may also collect the input received from its members and publish the data in anonymous aggregates.

Staff turnover. Many third-party salary survey vendors also collect turnover information. This external information can form the basis for your own benchmarking. Is your involuntary attrition (i.e. where an employee handed in their resignation) higher than common for your sector? Do you notice a trend of resignations within a certain area? This could be by specific jobs, skills, locations or even manager. For the first three, evaluate whether your total rewards package is competitive compared to the job market. If it isn’t, you’d want to review your business case for any market adjustments and also consider non-financial rewards.

Increases

Merit. This is probably still one of the most common components for a salary increase budget. Many organisations link a salary increase with the individual’s performance. In line with Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of merit (“character or conduct deserving reward”), only employees with the desired achievements and behaviours will be rewarded with a merit increase. Low performing employees are thus excluded from merit increases.

The Comp & Ben team should understand the anticipated distribution curve for the performance ratings and model possible merit increases percentages for each performance rating to avoid over- and under-spending. Should you only have a small budget available, this activity will also help to answer this question: Is the projected merit increase meaningful for all employees? Setting a stronger message, you can ask yourself: Would we be better off giving a merit increase only to our top performers?

Legal requirements. Some countries set a mandatory increase and/or increase the minimum wage. Organisations for which this applies need to ensure that the statutory adjustments have been implemented on time.

Besides raising the salaries to the new minimum wage and providing the required salary increase, regardless of the employee’s performance, some companies still provide an additional increase. These discretionary increases are often linked to the employee’s performance and would be a merit increase.

Comp & Ben, HR and Finance will need to work closely together during the budgeting process and make avail of the required funds or face penalties for any late implementation.

Inflation/cost of living increases. Often referred to as COLA (cost of living adjustments), this component is aiming to cover the inflationary increases which an employee experiences. This kind of increase is provided to all employees regardless of their performance.

Most governments and central banks provide inflation data and trends on their websites. For organisations also using salary budget predictions obtained from third-party salary surveys, a careful review needs to take place. Does the survey already include inflation in its forecast? In most surveys, inflation will have been factored into the published figures. The fine print clarifies any questions for the Comp & Ben team and double counting inflation can be avoided.

This year, inflationary increases will be an interesting question for Comp & Ben professionals and their businesses in the GCC. With the implementation of VAT in 2018, how will you consider the impact on your employees’ cost of living? Will you factor this into your budget? Big ticket items like rent and school fees are to be excluded. Yet, it’s not 100% clear how food or other items will be affected. What approach will your company take?

Special Pools

Market adjustments. Organisations using market data as the basis for your salary structures should update the salary structure with the latest survey results prior to the salary planning process. Applying the most recent information will show if any of your employees are falling below the market and are potentially paid below the minimum pay for their grade or level.

Depending on your company’s policy, you’ll need to bring these employees to the minimum salary of their grade or level, regardless of their performance. This action is considered a market adjustment.

Market adjustments require a separate budget. Once the new salary structure has been created by Comp & Ben, these individuals can be identified. The difference between the employee’s current salary and the new minimum salary for the job can be calculated and set aside as a special pool.

Comp & Ben and HR can pre-populate this information into the back-end of their automated salary planning tool and the manager would only provide their input for the merit increase. Any legal requirements and inflationary increases should be centrally handled by the Comp & Ben and HR teams. For planning processes with Excel, the manager can complete their planning sheet. Upon completion, the HR or Comp & Ben team will enter the amount for the market adjustment.

Promotions. They are a special pools funds and also need to be tracked separately. Prior to the start of the salary planning process, HR should work with the business and determine which promotions are anticipated. To save time during a generally tight salary planning round, HR can review the suitability of these employees and verify if the candidate meets the minimum requirements or expectations for the next level as per the organisation’s guidelines.

Together with Comp & Ben, the financial impact can be calculated and an appropriate promotions budget can be determined. Keeping in mind the organisation’s ability to pay, any legal requirements and the employee’s salary compared to the market pay, the result may be a smaller promotions budget than desired. If the proposed promotion increases do not meet available funds or the legal requirements, consider postponing some or even all of the promotions. Managers need to be informed about this decision by top management with support from HR or Comp & Ben.

A situation not unknown to this region is the promise of a promotion. Special messages need to be crafted and given to any employee due to be promoted. Depending on the legal framework, such promotions may need to be implemented, potentially without an adjustment to the employee’s remuneration.

New developments

Remove the link between merit and performance? The trend of removing performance ratings continues has led some companies to alter its pay-for-performance strategy. Is it time to give every employee a flat increase and leave managers with the option to offer an additional increase?

The amount of time put into the annual salary planning process by the Comp & Ben team, HR and the business compared to the return in engagement and productivity could make a case for a peanut-butter approach.

Enable the manager to make independent decisions. More companies are giving their managers the responsibility to determine the merit increases. HR and Comp & Ben are generally taking a step back and are reviewing for outliers only. The manager will no longer be able to hide behind HR and needs to explain their decision to the employee directly, if asked by the employee.

In this region but also in other parts of the world, managers are reluctant to clarify their decision-making process to an employee. This is where HR needs to come in, train and empower the manager to make a fair observation of their employees’ performance and distribution of their budgets.

Note, their budgets. If HR or Comp & Ben stepped in to re-distribute the increases, where would be the empowerment of the manager be?

Avoid the entitlement attitude. How many times have you see the entitlement attitude? Employees demanding or exploiting an offering by the company. In this region, sick leave is seen as an extension of annual leave by some employees. Medical insurance is excessively used because the company has already paid the annual premium. Changing the entitlement attitude does not happen overnight. Like any cultural change, will require the support from top management and their sense of passion, fairness and spirit of stewardship. More importantly, expectations need to be reset and managed.

Do you want to enhance your salary planning budgets or even the entire salary planning process? Contact us and find out how we can support you and your team in creating effective budgets and efficient processes.

Alternative working options

During the month of Ramadan, companies in this region have altered their working hours as required by the UAE labour law. Providing flexible options doesn’t have to stop after Eid and more and more companies are implementing new working hours. Providing many benefits for the agile organisation and the employee, organisations can choose from implementing one or a mixture of alternative working schedules. Here’s our selection of the most successful options:

Flexitime

Flexitime is the most common approach. The company decides its core working hours (e.g. 10 am – 2 pm) during which all employees must be at work. The employee can then choose their start and finish times, provided they’ll have worked the contractually agreed hours.

For example, an employee working 8 hours and taking a lunch break of 1 hour may start at 7 am, work during the core working hours between 10 am and 2 pm and finish at 4 pm. Another employee with the same working time and lunch break may start their work at 9:30 am, work during the core working hours between 10 am and 2 pm and finish at 5:30 pm.

One drawback of core working hours is that they may not provide enough overlap with international subsidiaries or clients. Employees would then be required to adjust their flexible start and finish time to accommodate such meetings, if no common time within the core hours can be found.

Enabling employees to work when they feel the freshest (e.g. morning person vs night owl), the consequent increased productivity and the increased engagement and job satisfaction are just a few benefits of flexitime the company can receive from the employee.

Compressed work week

Some companies in this region have started offering a compressed work week. As such, the employee works their regular weekly hours (e.g. 40 hours), however, over 4 instead of 5 working days. In this example, the employee would work 10 hours on 4 working days. This approach is very popular for employees dealing with countries outside this region. They’d work Monday to Thursday and with the extended working day, have more overlap with the different time zones.

Another option is the 9/80 schedule. Employees maintain their weekly working hours, in this case 40, and work 9 instead of 10 days in a fortnight. Here, staff would work 9 hours each day and would receive the 10th working day off. This could be working Sunday to Thursday and Sunday to Wednesday of the following week. For practical reasons, offices without 24/7 operations may choose to provide this option Sunday to Thursday (week 1) and Monday to Thursday (week 2).

Although longer working days may influence the employee’s productivity, it’s important to educate the employee on finding their personal energy curve and incorporating it as much as possible. For example, an employee may be the morning person and activities requiring their full attention should be worked on during the morning (their energy peak). An employee who’s more the night owl may prefer to work on these activities in the afternoon.

The organisation should enable employees working compressed work weeks to take breaks and allow the employee to re-energise. This can be a quick walk around the building, weather permitting, a break to get more water to re-hydrate or a stretching exercise, especially for employees sitting the whole day.

Working from home

While some companies have already established a formal working from home policy, many businesses are reluctant to offer this option. There’s the perception of providing the employee with an extra day off. To overcome such general misconceptions, companies can introduce working from home for special projects.

Employees requiring to concentrate on an activity can appreciate the quiet at home, provided they are separated from family or other distractions. Employers can help prepare their staff on creating a home office or a dedicated work area and with modern means of technology, employees won’t be cut off from their office and team members.

For employees working regularly from home (e.g. remote employees), the organisation will need to properly equip the work area (e.g. laptop, phone, headset). Ideally, the company offers local dial in numbers if the employee will spend a substantial amount of time on telecons to keep the costs low. Being able to see their manager and team members on a camera can also increase engagement and enhance the feeling of being part of a team, despite their remote location.

Managers can agree with their employees specific tasks and/or results to be achieved while working from home. Managers could then review these upon the employee’s return to the office. This approach has proven productive and allows trust to be established despite manager and employee are not in the same office building.

Part-time

Working reduced hours is a common concept across the world. It has shown to be very effective for employees returning to work (e.g. working parents) who don’t want to or can’t commit to a full-time role as well as for employees transitioning out of the workforce. Part-time employees are generally seen as highly motivated and more efficient, given the limited time they have to complete their tasks.

In this region, part-time is not widely spread. As a result, many employers are missing out on a large talent pool, well capable of tackling the challenges of the job. Some organisations overestimate the work required and are looking for full-time employees only. At a closer review of the tasks and responsibilities, some jobs could be performed on a part-time basis.

From an employer’s perspective, the reluctance to offer part-time work stems from the need to provide the same benefits (e.g. visa costs, medical insurance) as for a full-time employee. Companies are hesitant to provide this option which may take up a full headcount without considering the true needs and efficiencies received in return. For such companies, providing temporary part-time to employees returning from maternity leave, for example, may be a good alternative.

Working in a different time zone

Being in a region which differs from the Western working week, some companies are offering their staff to work in the time zone of the country they support. For example, an employee looks after the UK market which is 3 hours (4 hours in the winter time) behind the UAE. The individual would start and finish like their counterparts in the UK. This way, the support is given without any delays to the client in the UK.

For the employee, this different working schedule generally results in less time commuting, less stress and work overtime as they are working alongside their counterparts abroad and a higher job satisfaction. It also allows the employee to arrange local appointments (e.g. doctor) without having to take time off.

Should the time zones be too far apart (e.g. Los Angeles is 13 hours behind Dubai), the organisation will need to consider the impacts of an employee working at night, the legal restrictions on juveniles and women working at night and all health and safety requirements. In such extreme time differences, a company may decide not to provide this alternative working schedule.

Time off in lieu (TOIL)

Employees working on projects may put in long hours ensuring the deadline will be met. Even if a project is of a specific duration only, these times can be very challenging and exhausting for the employee. To receive the most during such intense times, companies should not only look at keeping morale high but also identify how to re-energise the employee.

Providing time off in lieu (TOIL) during a short-term project (e.g. under 4 weeks) may not be an option. In such cases, the organisation can already before or during the project communicate how TOIL can be taken upon completion of the project.

For long-term projects, companies should enable employees to take leave or TOIL. Rules will need to be established early on and communicated to the project members. This way, the smooth continuation of the project won’t be impacted by an individual taking a week off. Organisations should also decide how the employee would be available during a week off, if at all. After all, the purpose of time off is to revitalise and come back refreshed.

Employees working with countries outside this region may effectively work Sunday to Thursday plus Friday to accommodate the other work schedule. For these employees, time off in lieu will need to be given or be paid overtime as outlined in the labour law.

Are you unhappy with the lack of flexibility your current work schedules are providing your organisation? Are you in doubt which approach works best for your company? Contact us and find out how we can help you identify and implement the most appropriate alternative working options for your company and culture.

What are the stress levels in your company

Temperatures are rising and companies are demanding more from their employees. Being tasked to achieve more with less, employees are often putting in additional hours to successfully complete their activities. Add the different working week plus the time differences and you have employees working even more hours. It’s all adding up and it’s leaving a mark on employees. 1 in 7 employees are stressed out.

What’s stress?

We all experience stress which is primarily a physical response. Releasing hormones and chemicals like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, our body prepares for the physical action and gains a rush of energy. The “fight or flight” mode is fully underway.

Every person experiences stress differently and leaders need to recognise this. What they may be able to handle, their employees may not and vice versa. Some symptoms of stress include inability to concentrate, anxious or racing thoughts, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, general unhappiness, procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities.

Working an exhausting work schedule may not be the only reason for stress. Financial problems (e.g. increasing rent or cost of living, high education fees), separation from family members, health issues but also poor working conditions (e.g. improper lighting, insufficient air conditioning) or conflicts with team members can lead to stress.

What can you as a company do?

Companies can support stressed employees in many ways:

Identify the root cause for stress. This may be the biggest challenge as employees may not want to reveal the real reason for their stress(es). There may also be multiple sources causing stress stemming from work-related issues and from other parts of the employee’s life. Leaders and HR should work together to establish the reason before identifying how the company can support their employees. Regardless of what will be implemented, it needs to be aligned to other organisational and HR programmes and can’t stand in contrast to them.

Clarify the role and expectations. Leaders can remove the uncertainty around the role’s purpose, tasks or evaluation criteria by discussing these with their employees on a regular basis. Traditionally, annual performance reviews have been used for these while we see a trend to more frequent conversations. Leaders can use these to re-connect with their employees and also understand how their employees are doing (e.g. through a pulse survey).

Speak out. For many cultures, it’s not seen as permittable for men to express stress. It’s part of being successful. These days, some industries are recognising that constant stress does not lead to increased productivity or consequently to increased success. They are encouraging their employees to acknowledge stress and to find ways to reduce it before they’ll get burnt out. Stress-prone industries like banking are slowly adjusting their views after the stress diagnosis of Lloyds Banking Group’s CEO Antonio Horta-Osório in 2011 and Sir Hector Sants resignation from Barclays for stress reasons in 2013.

Prepare for temporary stress. Many jobs have fluctuating demands and go through busier periods (e.g. bid proposal, year-end closing). As the team enters such a period, leaders can prepare them for the temporary stress. They can outline how long this period is expected to last and clarify once again the roles and responsibilities. This helps the employee to prepare for and cope during the upcoming stress. Upon completion of this period, celebrate with the team, for example with a team lunch.

Create a support network. Employees need an effective group which supports them during stressful periods. This may be family members and friends or can be colleagues from the same or other teams. Personal relationships provide stability and a feeling of security, where the employee can receive advice and guidance. They act as some release and offer encouragement to the employee, showing support along the way.

Get moving. To counter the stress experienced, employees are encouraged to get moving and to work out. This can include a 20-minute-long walk, for example after lunch or as part of a meeting (walking meeting). Before or after work, employees can release their tension by participating in a spinning class, practicing yoga or swimming. Companies can arrange for these work out sessions or contribute to gym membership fees.

Engage the senses. Companies don’t utilise interior designers often enough when it comes to the office fit out. Providing appropriate light (e.g. at desk level rather than ceiling lamps only), using plants and applying different wall colours can provide a soothing atmosphere which in return leads to increased productivity. Sounds of water flowing can be found in many atriums as it has a calming effect on visitors. Companies can make use of the 5 senses for employees to experience and reduce their stress.

Eat a healthy diet. Many companies are providing drinks and snacks for their employees. Larger employers also have a cafeteria. Companies can thus influence their employees’ eating choices and provide healthy alternatives. Going one step further, some companies are working with their medical insurance provider and are providing cooking classes, where the employee re-learns what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet.

Get sufficient breaks. Employees require breaks during the normal working day to relax and revitalise. Having at least one weekly rest day, generally on the weekend, allows the employee to recharge their energies. Especially for employees travelling on business and across time zones, companies should ensure they get adequate rest before starting their work again. Travel time is to be considered as working time.

Provide Personal Finance 101 courses. While companies have traditionally focused on health-related solutions as a way of supporting their employees, some employers are taking it one step further and are also providing information and guidance for personal topics like finance. With the rising cost of living and the legal consequences for impaired personal finances, companies are starting to offer basic finance course focusing on creating budgets, identifying spending needs, reducing debt and planning for retirement.

With stress being and expected to remain as one of the biggest challenges for companies, employers have not only an obligation to support their employees experiencing stress. Companies can choose to stand above the competition and become a great employer applying a wide variety of solutions fit for their employees’ needs. These suggestions were a small peak into the possibilities!

Do you want to reduce the stress levels in your organisation, yet are too busy to do it yourself? Call us on +971-50-5516322 and learn how we can support you implement holistic solutions helping your employees regain their balance and become productive again.

Wellbeing – Why you need a holistic approach

Originating from stress management in the 1980s, wellness has come a long way. Recently, the trend towards a holistic wellbeing programme has been put high on the HR agenda. Companies are finally seeing the link between employee’s wellbeing, their productivity and overall business results.

Employees aren’t the only ones benefiting from wellbeing programmes. Companies are facing rising medical costs, often coming from preventable lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. Absentee rates and reduced engagements are slowing down the efficiency and consequently revenue of the organisation.

The isolated initiative

Designing and implementing a coordinated and integrated wellbeing programme is a huge undertaking for any HR team. While a single initiative is unlikely to leave a mark, the focus stayed on physical and emotional wellbeing with the most popular initiatives being:

Physical activity: 58%
Mental health: 55%
Smoking cessation: 54%
Weight management: 49%
Health club memberships: 48%

In this region, the high temperature in the summer time and the perceived lack of outdoor areas to walk or exercise are often used as an excuse to not move. Preparing for a fundamental shift in thinking, organisations can support their employees together with government-led initiatives. Since 2010, Dubai Sports World in association with Dubai Sports Council is offering individuals and teams to play and work out in the World Trade Centre for almost 3 months in the summer.

The holistic approach

To be successful, companies need to identify a well-rounded programme considering the physical, emotional, social, spirituality and financial wellbeing of their employees. But what does that even mean?

  • Physical wellbeing can be defined as the absence of illnesses and diseases and goes further by including lifestyle choices (e.g. around sleep, exercise, nutrition) which can influence other aspects of one’s life.
  • Emotional wellbeing is centred around positive mental health, allowing individuals to cope with the stresses of life, work productively and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
  • Social wellbeing focuses on one’s ability to relate, interact, connect and communicate with other people in their daily life as well as establishing and maintaining positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers.
  • Spiritual wellbeing is considered to be one’s ability to establish peace and harmony in their life, to act in accordance with their values and to give meaning and purpose to one’s actions and activities.
  • Financial wellbeing is the state where one has control over day-to-day and month-to-month finances, the capacity to absorb a financial shock and the financial freedom to make the choices that allow them to enjoy life.

Limited by budgets, companies can reap the rewards when overcoming the initial challenges of implementing a holistic wellbeing programme. Organisations are not only rolling out a new initiative, more importantly, they’re making a cultural shift. Putting wellbeing on their business and HR agenda rewards them with increases in productivity and engagement and reduced absenteeism rates. Employees express the feeling of being appreciated and valued, higher satisfaction and happiness, resulting in stronger intent to stay.

Example initiatives for each wellbeing area

Wellbeing initiatives don’t have to cost the bank as these examples for each component of a holistic wellbeing programme illustrate:

Physical wellbeing: Get your employees moving. Provide them with a fitness band and organise a step competition for each team or department within your organisation. Studies have shown how competitive we can be inside and outside the workplace. Reward the team with the highest number of steps over a 10-week-period, a long enough period to manifest the new behaviour.

Emotional wellbeing: Stress is one of the biggest risks, impacting all areas of life. Laughter, the body’s natural antidote to stress, is an effective way to reduce stress, tension and trauma. It’s thus no surprise that laughter workshops are becoming increasingly popular. Allowing employees to laugh it off, their focus shifts to a more positive perspective.

Social wellbeing: Employees want to belong and many organisations have recognised the power of social networks. Companies provide their facilities, possible a small contribution, to special interest groups for employees to join. This can range from a sports club over to LEGO construction groups or a company’s own orchestra. Employees are getting to know their colleagues on a personal basis and are developing deeper connections through the joint interest.

Spiritual wellbeing: Performing meaningful and purposeful work which is aligned to the employee’s values enhances their morale, commitment and productivity due to the reduction in stress and burnout. If uncertain about their own values, the employee can identify them by simply asking themselves “What 3-5 traits, behaviours, perspectives or ideas are most important to me?” The direct manager can outline how the employee’s job links to and impacts the overall organisation.

Financial wellbeing: Poor financial knowledge leads to health problems like muscle tension, migraines or other headaches, anxiety and ulcers. Not knowing how to pay the increasing school fees or rents, it’s expected that about 66% of employees in the UAE are experiencing financial stress. Companies are following the trend seen in universities over the last decade: Educating employees on financial and budgeting 101.

You can see how interrelated each area of wellbeing is and why a single, isolated initiative will not lead to the desired results.

Come and join us at Wellbeing 360!

On 10 April 2017, the conference Wellbeing 360 at the Conrad Hotel, SZR, Dubai hosts industry leaders and experts discussing the various levels of wellbeing within an organisation. We will share our insights during the panel discussion “Health and Wealth – the contribution of financial services to personal health and wellbeing”.

Prefer to chat directly about your organisation and your plans of introducing a holistic wellbeing programme? Call us on +971-50-5516322 and learn how we can support you before, during and after the implementation.