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Workplace Stress

Feeling overworked? Stressed out? Experiencing symptoms of burn out? Believe that you are always on? No, you are definitely not alone according to new research.

The findings of the UAE edition of the Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study – titled Maintaining vitality amidst changing times – are out, and the statistics once again illustrate the dichotomy of life in the Emirates.

For while all of the above are true, and on those metrics this region is outgunning the rest of the world, our overall wellbeing still comes in as ahead of the global average.

The newly released Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study this year looked at ‘vitality’ as the global company evolves its annual survey. This year the research spanned twelve global markets and delved into eight key aspects of well-being – social, occupational, financial, intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, and environmental.

Overall vitality

According the latest figures, the UAE comes in with one of the highest vitality scores around the world, with about one-third (32%) of respondents reporting high vitality levels, which, report authors said was promising but marked a decline from the four in 10 (39%) vitality score recorded at the beginning of 2023.

This also gels when respondents were asked to rate their overall wellbeing as excellent or very good, some 58% of UAE respondents answered in the affirmative, significantly higher than the global average of 42%, and compare that to the UK where only 36% could do so.

But of course, if 32% have high vitality in the UAE, then what about the remaining 68%?

Stress levels remain high

According the the report authors, those with low vitality also tend to be more stressed (98%) compared to those with high vitality (84%). Despite a slight decline from 2022, stress levels in the UAE remain high, with 89% of respondents experiencing stress in this year’s study, which is higher than the global average.

Burnout, which Cigna reported as being at almost universal levels in 2022 persists, with almost all respondents (99%) reporting at least one burnout symptom over the course of the past year.

Work weighs on the figures

Once again, the research shows how the world of work in the UAE are dragging the metrics down.

That statistics show that the percentage of respondents who felt they were ‘always on’ actually increased year on year, from 88% to 89%, far higher than the global average of 67%.

And, those who were regularly working outside normal hours, still remained world beating with nearly a third of respondents indicating they did, compared to one fifth globally.

Which perhaps should come as no surprise which shows that more than two thirds of respondents said that employers prioritised productivity over employees’ mental well-being.

Dr Louise Lambert, Head of Happiness Policy, Programming, and Research for HappinessMatters, speaking at the launch of the report, told journalists how the evidence showed leaders played an outsized role in the well-being of their employees rather than the individuals themselves.

“In an age of persistent economic uncertainty and evolving work-life dynamics, employers must address the full spectrum of employee vitality and consider it a key part of organisation strategy.” Jérôme Droesch , CEO – Domestic Health and Health Services, International Health, Cigna Healthcare

The cost of living

Unsurprisingly the cost of living and finances also plays heavily into people’s stressors.

The ‘cost of living crisis’, driven by global inflation, emerged as the leading cause of stress in the UAE, as indicated by 45% of respondents.

This concern is closely followed by issues related to personal and family finances. With the expectation that global interest rates will remain high in the coming months, financial concerns are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, said the report authors.