Are UAE employees less healthy/happy in the summer months?
Imagine a photograph of "the summer months" in Europe - a wonderful close up of a happy group looking truly content running along on a beach or in a field with sunshine shining from a clear blue sky. There is a reason for this.
Sunshine, the outdoors and movement have all individually been shown to both make us happier and to enhance our wellbeing. It doesn't take an expert to see that during the summer months in the UAE, getting outside and being more social is more difficult than during the other months of the year.
As a result employers may find that their workforce is less happy, less "healthy" and as a result less effective on a day-to-day basis.
So we pulled together some tips for individuals, employers and HR teams that may help to improve the happiness of their colleagues this summer:
Think about Vitamin D
With the heat of the summer, our time outdoors reduces along with our proportionate coverage of sunscreen and clothing when we are outdoors. A crucial nutrient that plays a role in depression and inflammation is Vitamin D and our main source of this is the sunshine.
In order for us to get adequate Vitamin D, we require 20 minutes of moderate daily sunlight exposure to 70 percent of our skin. Unless you spend that time on a golf course, this is unlikely in the summer months in the UAE where we hop from home, to car, to underground carpark to office and back. It may be worth encouraging your employees to get their levels of Vitamin D tested by their doctor, whilst increasing their natural Vitamin D intake through their food. Vitamin D can be found in naturally in seaweeds, egg yolk, oily fish (e.g. sardines, mackeral, salmon) and in some milks and cheeses. (N.B. Supplementing Vitamin D without having been tested is not recommended)
Ramadan closing hours mean that people tend to go out and see friends less. Even amongst many introverts, energy is gained from others and wellbeing markers all improve the more time we spend with friends. An idea we carried out with one of our Abu Dhabi clients was establishing a weekly group lunch at a "favourite cafe" during the summer months - which meant everyone came into the office rather than worked from home and made sure they had a sociable day. Another team started afternoon group "brown bag" chill outs where they got together in a relaxed meeting room and discussed a topic of interest - sometimes work-related, sometimes not. This proved to be a great way to add to people's social energy during the summer months and increased people's contentment in the office.
Exercise & Movement
Movement gets our blood pumping, which can purge toxins that drive up cellular degeneration, illness and mental stress. Exercise also releases endorphins - the body's feel good chemicals. Encouraging movement in an office environment can be hard - but some simple strategies can be of help. How about holding stand up/walking meetings - where employees have to be on their feet and move (which also has the advantage of increasing core strength and reducing postural issues). Another idea is to set up a contract with a Personal Training group in the UAE - such as Discover Sports who provides Personal Training services at corporate rates and also aim to workout at a location in or close to your office.
For further information on the ideas above, or for more insights into Corporate Wellbeing interventions and workshops, contact firstname.lastname@example.org