Why is Corporate Wellness Not a Luxury, but a Necessity?


It's fairly basic knowledge that a happy employee is a good employee—but while the theory has never been in doubt, for most corporates that means taking the team out for drinks on a Friday night or sponsoring cake when it's a colleague's birthday. Rare is the case that fitness comes into play, and even rarer is it that other factors that affect employee wellness are taken into consideration.

Common Arabic phrase used for greeting someone—keef el-sohat?—asks after a person’s health. Another common phrase used in Lebanon specifically is yatik el-afyeh (may God grant you wellness), used as a greeting but also for when someone is engaged in physical labor or has had a busy day.

While our language may emphasize the value we Lebanese place on health and wellness, our habits and activities have gradually shifted away over the years as a result of exposure to unhealthy trends in food and lifestyle.

The tendency towards unhealthy habits may be beginning to change, however, as part of a global movement toward encouraging a good quality of life. In Lebanon, interest in health and wellness practices is slowly increasing.

Why in the Middle East?

One of the leading private banking institutions in the Middle East, Mashreq was awarded the Daman Award for Corporate Health and Wellness Organisation.

It launched Sahtak, a wellbeing initiative, in early 2015 to instill a healthy living culture in its employees.

Healthy employees are the key behind every successful business. Since many employees spend more than half of their waking hours at work, companies are slowly starting to realize the important role of Wellness Programs.

Our Corporate Wellness program is designed to help:

  • Reduce medical costs

  • Reduce absenteeism and presenteeism

  • Increase employee morale and job satisfaction

  • Reduce staff turnover

  • Increase productivity levels

  • Increase organizational effectiveness

  • Decrease employee turnover

It’s no secret that Lebanon is not the healthiest country. Approximately 12.6% of the Lebanese population are living with diabetes, 67% are Overweight, and 39.1% are physically inactive. (Source: https://www.who.int/)

Employee engagement is a vast construct that touches almost all facets of human resource management. Over the years companies in the Middle East have been progressively appreciative of having effective employee engagement in place with positive outcomes on how happy employees can channel happier workplaces, and in turn have positive effects on business growth.

It is becoming evident that Middle East companies are now understanding that a healthier employee is happier, more efficient, cost of healthcare is reduced and in turn reaping the benefits of their investments from employee wellness programs.

How can employers in the region play a role in reducing work-related stress, while boosting productivity?

More and more employees believe that the employers must take an active part in reducing the amount of stress in their lives and that the workplace is capable of reducing the stress levels employees are facing.

For employers looking to attract and retain top talent, while decreasing the level of employee disengagement, offering the right mix for corporate wellness initiatives is critical.

Corporate wellness used to be considered a luxury - a nice offering for employees in companies who could afford it. 

Now it is a necessity. You cannot afford not to. 

Employees are becoming increasingly conscious of their stress levels, health, and general well-being. The impact of a poor work environment is being felt and acted on. 

Dissatisfied employees take on average 15 more days of sick leave per year. 33% of employees leave jobs purely due to stress. It costs between 35-70% of an employee's salary to replace them.

The right employee wellness programs produce up to 6.5x return on investment.