OpinionFostering Well-being in the Middle Eastern Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities

Fostering Well-being in the Middle Eastern Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities

The Middle Eastern Workplace is a melting pot with diverse representation worldwide. The challenges at the workplace are comparable to anywhere else in the world.

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It is said that the average person will spend approximately 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. Thus, the workplace is not just a space for professional growth; it significantly influences an individual’s mental health and overall well-being. In the unique context of the Middle East, where cultural nuances and traditions shape the professional landscape, promoting psychological well-being has emerged as a critical endeavor. This article delves into the challenges faced and the opportunities available for nurturing mental health in the Middle Eastern workplace, drawing on recent findings that reveal a complex interplay of factors. Especially in the post-pandemic world, the workplace across the Middle East has seen an upheaval in mental health issues.

The Middle Eastern Workplace is a melting pot with diverse representation worldwide. The challenges at the workplace are comparable to anywhere else in the world. Some of the issues concerning the mental wellbeing of employees are highlighted below:
  • A steady increase in the prevalence of Mental Health Symptoms: Recent data indicates a concerning trend, with two-thirds of respondents in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) reporting symptoms of poor mental health or receiving a mental health diagnosis. This highlights the urgency to address mental health issues in the workplace, signaling a need for proactive strategies and support mechanisms.
  • Higher Incidences of Burnout: One in three respondents in the GCC reported experiencing burnout symptoms. The fast-paced nature of many Middle Eastern workplaces and demanding expectations contribute to this phenomenon. Addressing burnout requires a comprehensive approach that considers both work-related and personal factors.
  • Physical Health Struggles: While mental health is a concern, respondents also reported challenges with physical health conditions. A holistic approach to well-being should encompass mental and physical health, recognizing the interconnectedness of these aspects.
While the problem at hand is dire, we also recognize opportunities to mitigate these challenges and enhance the well-being of employees.
  • Emphasizing Purpose in Work: The correlation between a sense of purpose and workplace happiness is a noteworthy finding. Organizations in the Middle East can capitalize on this by fostering a work culture that emphasizes the meaningfulness of individual contributions. Aligning employees’ roles with a greater purpose can enhance job satisfaction and overall well-being.
  • Social and Spiritual Health Focus: The positive aspect of the findings reveals that many respondents reported better social and spiritual health. Organizations can leverage this by promoting a workplace culture, encouraging social interactions, and respecting diverse spiritual beliefs. Creating a supportive social environment can contribute significantly to employees’ overall well-being.
  • Tailoring Support for Different Demographics: Recognizing diverse patterns among demographic groups is essential. Organizations should adopt a tailored approach to support employees based on their unique needs. This may involve offering targeted mental health programs, flexible work arrangements, and culturally sensitive initiatives.
  • Implementing Employee Well-being Programs: The report’s insights underscore the importance of comprehensive well-being programs. These initiatives may include Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), mental health awareness campaigns, and workshops that address stress management and resilience building.

Also Read: Climate Impacts on our Health and Wellbeing

Nahida Nayaz Ahmed, Chief Medical Officer, SEHA Mental Health & Well-Being Services.

Promoting psychological well-being in the Middle Eastern workplace is a multifaceted challenge that demands a nuanced and inclusive response. While acknowledging the prevalence of mental health issues and burnout, organizations can capitalize on the opportunities presented by employees’ reported happiness at work. By fostering a sense of purpose, prioritizing social and spiritual health, and implementing tailored well-being programs, businesses in the Middle East can create workplaces that drive professional success and prioritize their workforce’s mental and emotional health. In doing so, they contribute to a more resilient and thriving workplace culture that benefits individuals and the broader community alike.

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