UAE employees hesitant to use health perks at ‘critical’ workplaces; Survey

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Employee Benefits
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Aetna International, a US-based insurance company has conducted a new survey with 1000 workers in the UAE, which revealed that many employees are hesitant to use their employers’ health and well-being benefits for fear of being judged and concerned about how management will react if they find out.

When respondents were asked what stops them from accessing the current health and well-being benefits, 29 percent said they’re afraid their career progression will be harmed if HR finds out they’re struggling.

22 percent said that they didn’t feel comfortable accessing benefits as they felt no one else was and 20 percent also worried about how they would be perceived by colleagues if they used health and well-being resources.

This worrying level of stigma is particularly acute when it comes to mental health. 27 percent of UAE respondents cited worrying about HR or management finding out details about their mental health as a key reason they avoid using their health and well-being benefits.

David Healy
David Healy
Aetna International

“In spite of these best efforts, these findings suggest that a significant number of employees may try to cope alone with mental or physical health challenges. Sadly stigma, particularly around mental health, means some employees still believe they could face repercussions if they reveal they are struggling, which should never be the case in any workplace.”

35 percent of UAE respondents said they would be more likely to access health and well-being support if leadership communicated more about available resources and 33 percent said that knowing there is a clear policy on mental health that ensures they will not be penalized for accessing support.

According to 38 percent of respondents, knowing that their peers are using the same resources will encourage them to use more employer-provided health and well-being resources. Offering regular training and webinars specifically around practical tips for managing well-being and how to spot and support employees and colleagues who might be struggling with mental health, are also appreciated by respondents.

Related: New Riverbed & Aternity Survey sheds light on UAE’s Hybrid Workforce