Experts urge companies to prioritise workplace wellbeing, mental health

Workplace wellbeing is a concept that is growing in importance for employers across the world. The Wellbeing@Work Event, a leading global event series taking place in 11 cities globally, was organised for the first time in Muscat on Sunday. 

The conference was jointly presented by Apex Media and the UK-based FOW Insights at the Sheraton Oman Hotel. The event raised the important issue of workplace wellbeing and how essential it is to highlight the mental health and overall wellbeing of employees at organisations. 

The conference kick-started with opening remarks by Paul Turner, regional director MENA at Havas People. As the workplace wellbeing challenges remain under-acknowledged in the Middle East region, experts at the event agreed that more needs to be done across the industry to ensure wellbeing in the workplaces and provide staff the necessary support. 

Wafa al Balushi, director – corporate communications and human capital at Oman Gas, and Dr Salim al Flaiti, director of venue operations at Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) gave presentations on the topic of ‘Creating a workplace environment of happiness to boost productivity’. 

Rene de Murard, leadership trainer and coach at Oman Oil and Orpic Group, discussed the ways of engaging employees with projects to increase wellbeing. 

There was an in-depth panel discussion on the topic of ‘Strategic moves for stress and wellness’, moderated by Nutaila Al Kharusi, Pyschotherapist , Managing Director, AHMC and featuring Dr Sulaiman al Rawahi, chief medical officer at PDO, Dr Alya Sultan, clinical  psychologist and Dr Hamad al Sinawi, senior psychiatrist at Al Harub Medical Centre. Chris Cummings, managing director of Sonas Events –  the holding company of FOW  Insights, said that the Wellbeing@Work Event will be organised annually in Muscat. 

Nutaila Al Kharusi also conducted an energizing session on mindfulness leading the participants into an exercise of relaxation to quieten the mind and rejuvenate. 

“We  are delighted to bring Wellbeing@Work Event in Oman as lots of large employers here are doing a fantastic work to promote employee wellbeing. The new research and information suggest that a focus on employee wellbeing is an essential aspect in creating a great place to work – resulting in high levels of engagement, employee satisfaction, productivity and business performance.” 

He said, “We want more organisations in Oman to share their best practices and ideas to make workplaces more healthier and happier. The studies have shown that the companies that prioritise wellbeing of their employees outperform their competitors by up to 25 per cent. So wellbeing is an important issue to focus on and it makes a strong business case to do.” 

From Omantel, Hassan Saud al Salmi, HSSE senior manager, presented a case study on wellbeing programmes at Omantel. Insherah Bawazir, head of human resources at Standard Chartered Bank in Oman, also presented a case study about the bank’s flexible working hours policy as part of their employee wellbeing programme. Speaking at the event, Rob Stephenson, a global mental health influencer and founder  of InsideOut (UK), said that  the cost of mental ill-health is very significant, which is not only due to people’s absence from work but due to their weak  productivity because of mental health issues. 

“We need to focus on improving mental health and wellbeing for all employees,  part of that is smashing the stigma of mental ill-health in  the workplace. Another important thing is creating a culture which allows companies to  make the wellbeing a strategic priority. My message to the  organisations in Oman is that  get your leadership engaged  and treat the mental health and wellbeing issues as strategic  priority and then invest in the wellbeing programmes to enable everybody to thrive.” 

Muscat Daily

Editor

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