We caught up with Sabahatt Habib in preparation for her involvement in the Wellbeing at Work Middle East Summit on 21-23 February to find out why she is so passionate about wellbeing at work and why she is looking forward to the Summit.
We are thrilled that you will be speaking at our Wellbeing at Work Middle East Summit in February. Our first and most important question is, how are you doing today?
As a leader based in the region, what are the main challenges you are facing when it comes to employee wellbeing?
The region is very dynamic and the market is fast growing, however there is a perception or practice of very little to no work life balance or emotional investment in people. What I mean by this is there is a common practise of a one size fits all approach across organizations because it is too time consuming to get to know each member in a team, I mean really get to know them, what ticks them, what their dreams, aspirations, troubles etc are.
As technology and the world has evolved so has the workforce, their motivators and their needs. And sometimes leaders forget to take this into consideration, assuming that previous practices would still work without being tailored to the present workforce needs.
What strategies have you seen developing in the region over the past 6-12 months to address health and wellbeing in the workplace?
The UAE is doing its best to have initiatives around health and wellbeing in general. Some of these initiatives include, the change of the weekend to match certain parts of the world, the introduction of the 4.5 work days a week (disappointingly this was not adopted by all companies especially those in the private sector), the November fitness challenge and the overall openness to discuss, what was traditionally a taboo topic, such as mental health.
Why is employee wellbeing so important to you personally?
We spend most of our wake hours at work, outside of work working or thinking about work. By focusing on employee wellbeing, we are able create an environment where people can flourish, grow and tap into their best abilities, create an environment where individuals can do their life’s best work, be happy and this can only happen if employees are taken care of and heard by there being a focus on employee well-being.
How one feels at work does not stop at work, it is carried on into their personal lives, it impacts their marriage, their parenting, their personal relationships etc. The lines are blurred.
Life is beautiful but a significant amount of people hate their jobs, speak ill of their companies and their managers. Companies have the ability to emotionally, and physically drain their people. We can change this. We can create more happiness in people’s lives that would not only help them be their best at work but also create a ripple effect in their personal lives and over all create a happier world.
Hence employee wellbeing is important to me, because as leaders I believe that we have the opportunity to make a much larger positive impact in the world at large by doing something simple like focusing on employee wellbeing.
What are you most looking forward to about our event in February?
I am looking forward to meeting various thought leaders in the industry and having open discussions on how we can care for our people better and the challenges we face.
Tell us, what is your vision for the workplace of the future, in terms of employee engagement, health and wellbeing?
A world where businesses look at their people as a whole beings not just as human doings. Where all leadership teams are champions of employee wellbeing and not just the people’s team (traditionally known as HR).
What areas do you think employers should be focused on over the next 12-18
Creating environments where their people can flourish. Better communication and transparency throughout organizations, investment in engraining employee wellbeing as part of company culture not just programs or initiatives.
How has your organisation been leading the way?
We have engrained employee wellbeing in our DNA as an organization and created policies that support in keeping employee wellbeing at the forefront.
Sabahatt will be speaking in Dubai at the Wellbeing at Work Middle East Summit that takes place both live and in-person in Riyadh and Dubai and virtually for the wider region. Further details on the Summit can be found here.