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Wellbeing @ work

International experts pave a positive path for corporate Oman

First event in Oman creates inroads for corporate Oman to embrace wellness at the workplace

The first ‘Wellbeing @ Work Event’ in Muscat touched upon a series of key issues concerning employee welfare which indirectly affects the productivity and profits of an organisation. The common contention, however, was that ‘wellbeing at work’ is a concept still at its infancy in the sultanate yet crucial for the health of corporate Oman.

The day-long seminar, jointly presented by UK-based Future of Work Insights and Apex Media was designed to provide Human Resources personnel and organisational leaders with an opportunity to learn from experts and their peers about the latest wellbeing developments and successes that enhance individual and organisational performance across the world.

Through a series of talks and exercises, participants were taken on an interesting journey that defined what comprises a healthy work environment and how employees can equip themselves to face challenges and cope in the midst of a hosts of work pressures. The various speakers harped on the importance of providing stress-busters for employees to stay focussed as well as a string of issues like providing medical support, fighting mental illnesses, promoting employee engagement and happiness at work, providing a healthy work environment, enhancing employee morale, fostering cross-culture harmony and using emotional intelligence at the workplace.

The seminar, chaired by Paul Turner, regional director MENA, Havas People, included seasoned speakers like Wafa al Balushi, director – Corporate Communications and Human Capital, Oman Gas; Dr Salim al Flaiti, director of Venue Operations, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre; Rene de Murard, leadership trainer and coach; Oman Oil and Orpic Group; Dr Sulaiman al Rawahi, chief medical officer, PDO, Dr Alya Sultan, clinical psychologist, Al  Harub Medical Centre; Dr Hamad al Sinawi, senior psychiatrist, Al Harub Medical Centre; Rob Stephenson, founder, InsideOut (UK); Insherah Bawazir, head of Human Resources, Standard Chartered Bank; Sunaina Kohli, Middle East Wellbeing, Diversity & Inclusion lead, PWC; Matt Coulson, CEO, Chiswick Park Enjoy Work (UK) and Mark Rix, CEO, Apex Media. Also, roundtable/panel discussions were moderated by Nutaila al Kharusi, managing director, AHMC.

Stress can be good

A substantial section of the seminar dealt with stress at the workplace –causes, concerns, consequences and conceivable solutions. Some of the speakers stress the importance of stress management rather than avoiding stress or crumbling under it. In this regard, they also looked on stress as a ‘good’ factor that motivates individuals. However, they also prescribed a series of measures that can help employees cope with stress.

Mark Rix

CEO, Apex Media

We had a line up of speakers from around the world, including local experts, talking about the latest best practices in wellbeing for employees. It’s very important, critical for the bottomline, and it’s not going away – it will only become a bigger and bigger conversation in future.

Paul Turner

Regional director, MENA, Havas People

We all know that wellbeing at work is very important for organisational output today. One survey states that just 13 per cent of adults worldwide engage in their careers. That’s a very low figure which indicates how big the challenge is before us.

Hassan Saud Rashid al Saimi

HSSE senior manager, Omantel

Stress is not an illness, rather a symptom that indicates that something is not alright at the workplace. Sadly, most of us do not manage stress well. Stress is not always bad; it can be good for an employee if one looks at it as a motivating factor. What is most needed, however, is resilience, to keep going in the face of stress.

Dr Hamad al Sinawi

Senior psychiatrist, Al Harub Medical Centre

Most people feel ashamed to say they are going through difficult times at work. There is nothing wrong in being subject to stress, but what is most needed is stress management. Emotional/physical strain is caused by our response to stress and it can lead to a complete burnout if not tackled well, and in time.

The change has begun

Three delegates of the Wellbeing @ Work seminar in Oman, sum up that the event has indeed opened up vistas for change in corporate Oman. Here’s what they told TheWeek:

Wellbeing has different meanings for everyone

We came here to present an awareness of wellbeing at work and it was an honour for us to provide some tips in this regard. In Oman, people are not much aware about wellbeing at work and we believe that this event will open up many doors for people to understand this concept. It’s good that we have touched upon many issues that affect our wellbeing, from the environment and the food we eat to the way we deal with our colleagues at work and our family members at home, and striking a balance between the two. Today people of different cultures work together but every organisation has its own culture too and employees need to fit themselves in. To each individual wellbeing can have a different meaning but I am glad that this seminar has helped in providing a broad understanding of it and I hope we have more such events to spread the message to everyone.

Jasmine al Kalbani

Employee, Super Group of Companies

Need a guide to wellbeing activities

I’m glad to have attended this event since I got an opportunity to learn a lot about wellbeing at work and how wellness relates to happiness and productivity. Apart from enhancing productivity and efficiency for a company, wellbeing at work provides a sense of satisfaction and happiness to employees, and this is very important. Omanis are now coming out and talking about embracing yoga at the workplace; this was never heard of before and to adopt yogic practices from cultures where this has been prevalent is definitely a positive step for corporate Oman.

There are a lot of apps for everything these days, so I would like to see some such app in Oman which would provide employees with a map or a set of guidelines which explains where one could find a suitable gym or a yoga class and which talent pool caters to which company so that people could make informed decisions and choices.

Nasra al Battashi

Human capital manager, PWC

Be well, work well

At PWC, we have advanced wellbeing programmes and advanced flexible frameworks for employees. I think, that Oman needs to seriously start thinking about flexibility and wellbeing and make it as a culture. Working with PWC has changed a lot of own beliefs and convictions and my behaviour itself in terms of working flexible, generating new ideas in terms of wellbeing and working well. We have something called ‘Be well, work well’ and that helps us not just to think about output and profits but also to take care of our own health.

I think, the culture of the Omani workforce is much different from what it used to be some years ago and that is a positive step. Not just myself, but we are all in the process of change and we consider wellbeing as something very important and a first priority for every company.