UAE residents have experienced a marginal decline in overall wellness during the past year while still ranking higher than the global average
UAE residents have experienced a marginal decline in overall wellness during the past year, dropping 1.6 points from 63.1 to 61.5, while still ranking higher than the global average and countries such as the UK, France, and Singapore.
The slight decline was primarily driven by people having less personal time and concerns about meeting the needs of family members, according to the 2018 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey.
Physical wellbeing also diminished slightly since the 2017 survey with the sharpest decline observed in the ability to exercise regularly.
Only 23 percent of respondents reported that they exercise on a regular basis compared to 29 percent in 2017, while 45 percent said they get sufficient sleep compared to 49 percent the previous year.
The survey showed that workplace wellness programs are considered crucial for employees in the UAE, with 81 percent of respondents agreeing that such initiatives are important in choosing between two potential employers.
The survey findings further hint at a lower incidence of employer support, with three in five respondents saying that they do not have any formal workplace wellness program in place, and half of them claiming they do not receive adequate support from employers in dealing with stress.
The survey explores people’s perceptions and concerns for their health and their sense of well-being across five key areas - physical, family, social, finance and work.
“More people are feeling positive about their current financial situation and understand the need to prepare for their future. However, our findings also show a trade-off as we face increased levels of workplace stress today,” said Art Cozad, CEO, Cigna Insurance Middle East.
“This presents a huge opportunity for employers to step up their workplace wellness efforts. The UAE Government has already taken the lead in this respect through the innovative Happiness Agenda that is setting a benchmark for countries around the world.
"Following their example, private sector companies can offer practical solutions such as flexi-hours or stress management support through insurance packages that include mental wellness.”
The survey indicates a high preference for private healthcare in the UAE, rating it better than public healthcare on most aspects. In contrast to most other markets in the study, private healthcare is not perceived to be that much costlier than the public system.
People in the UAE are also highly open to health data sharing (76 percent) with third parties if it lowers healthcare costs, provides better access to healthcare, and enables early detection of illness.
“While the UAE is at the forefront of quality healthcare, there are clear gaps in accessibility to treatment owing to various factors, from the lack of employee benefits to poor health and well-being behaviour among residents. With greater awareness and early intervention, these issues can be mitigated, leading to a healthier and more productive population,” Cozad added.