We caught up with Nida Yousuf recently to find out her thoughts on workplace wellbeing across the Middle East region. Nida is the Global Human Resources Director at Daraz, part of the Alibaba Group, and will be sharing their wellbeing journey at the Wellbeing @ Work Middle East Summit that takes place between 22-24 February.
We are thrilled that you will be speaking at our Wellbeing @ Work Middle East Summit in February. Our first and most important question is, how are you doing today?
I am doing well and keeping safe during these turbulent times. Thank you.
As a HR leader based in the region, what are the main challenges your you are facing when it comes to employee wellbeing?
There are quite a few challenges but considering our region I would highlight the following:
– Work-Life balance & Stress-related concerns
– Sedentary work environment and lack of facilities for employees
– Inadequate funding from employers on employee health checks and physical/ mental wellbeing
What strategies have you seen developing in the region over the past 6-12 months during the pandemic to address mental health in the workplace?
Employers during the pandemic concentrated a lot on employees who felt isolated or depressed especially during lock-down
– Introduction of clinical psychologists and HR teams who would check up on employees
– Virtual workouts and connect sessions for employees to feel united and together
– Establish boundaries to Work-From-Home; to reduce remote-working-burn out
Why is employee wellbeing so important to you personally?
I feel burnout / work-related fatigue is very common in workplaces where resources are stretched and there is no/ limited focus on employee wellbeing. This negatively impacts both employee’s mental and physical health and sometimes, disconnect from their duties and recover. In other cases, struggling with bandwidth and work commitments, they might feel an extra urge to work even despite feeling under the weather. These issues do not only affect individual wellbeing, but also the business as a whole through decreased productivity and performance. When employers provide a healthy eco-system for staff, they gain a better work-life balance and feel more positively about their jobs and workplace.
What are you most looking forward to our virtual event in February?
It will be interesting to hear and share various ideas and practices across the region – and talk about the common concerns faced by employers.
Tell us, what is your vision for the workplace of the future, in terms of employee engagement, mental health, and wellbeing?
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. As much as the traditional way of working and interacting has been affected, I also see this as an opportunity for the workplace trends to evolve. Remote working and remote measures of performance will take a step forward in the HR world, making it easier for employers to hire across different geographies, ensuring efficiencies. There will be more focus on inclusivity and diversity which will bring a competitive edge to the employers.
Covid-19 has undoubtedly influenced all areas of employees’ personal and professional lives. What are the key learnings from this period and what are your tips for supporting each other through uncertainty?
First and foremost, the acknowledgment of the fact that this pandemic is not a disease and all those who are affected by it should be dealt with compassion.
Help manage the anxieties of people – regular check-in with colleagues, friends, the family is important. A social support network is important to create.
For employers, it’s important to put people first along with the sustainability of the business.
How has your organization been leading the way over the last 12 months?
Employee wellbeing remained our topmost priority during this time. We worked a lot on the integration of employees, to avoid isolation and kept connected virtually. A certain discipline of working hours was also set to ensure productivity. We did not take any drastic measures, instead were transparent with the employees about the business situation and market dynamics.
Nida is one of the speakers at the forthcoming Wellbeing @ Work Middle East Summit that takes place between 22-24 February 2021. Join hundreds of employers by securing your ticket here.