International workforce well-being survey highlights key issues for expats in the UAE
Making friends in the UAE is one of the biggest problems facing expats looking to settle in the country, according to a new survey.
Aetna International's 2019 International Workforce Well-being Survey indicated that broader issues associated with settling into the UAE - such as building a strong social network or ensuring family members are supported - pose challenges for expats and could have a significant detrimental impact on worker well-being and, potentially, employee performance.
The research, which surveyed UAE expats that were within the first five years of having moved to the country, revealed that 60 percent find making friends to be one of the most challenging aspects of settling in.
More than 90 percent of those respondents said the issue has had a negative impact on their well-being, compared to a global average of 43 percent.
The survey also showed that 41 percent of UAE expats also reported that they still do not feel part of a community. As suggested in Aetna International’s Expat Social Determinants Report 2019, this is more challenging to individuals than the professional requirements of their new job.
Expats with families highlighted the happiness of their children as one of the biggest contributors to their own well-being, with 56 percent of respondents suggesting that settling children was a hurdle when moving to the UAE and 86 percent citing it as causing a negative impact on their well-being.
On the flip side, over a third (38 percent) said the education of their children had the biggest positive impact on their well-being.
Access to quality healthcare was also another critical factor. This is one area where the UAE seems to be outperforming other expat-friendly destinations, with 39 percent of UAE expat workers stating that having access to good medical care in the country has a positive impact on their well-being compared to global average of 32 percent.
Commenting on the findings, David Healy, CEO Aetna International EMEA, said: “Thanks in large part to government initiatives like the National Programme for Happiness and Positivity, the UAE continues to rank at the top of the list of employment destinations for expats around the world.
“Backed with this government support for employee health and wellness, the onus is now on regional businesses to do their part... the findings stress the responsibility that local companies have in providing adequate care for their employee’s physical and emotional well-being. When executed well, these programmes — that focus on worker well-being both within and outside of the work environment ? can make all the difference in ensuring that international workers settle in nicely in the UAE.”