The concept of work-life balance is gaining importance everywhere, including in the UAE. Many companies, in fact, are introducing measures to improve the work-life balance of their employees in order to increase their confidence, competence and overall satisfaction. This is a critical factor in creating a healthier lifestyle for those employed and can result in more motivated employees with enhanced life-long personal and professional paths.
Research suggests that improving the balance between people’s working life and their life outside work can bring real benefits to both employers and employees. It can create a more engaged workforce, with higher retention and greater productivity, and provides employees with the space and ability to do their job in the best possible way. The balance does not have to consist of equal proportions; employees should be given the chance to pursue both professional and personal goals.
According to the ‘Employee Motivation in the MENA’ survey conducted by Bayt.com, a job site in the Gulf and Middle East, and YouGov, an independent research and consulting organization, employees in the UAE consider a good work-life balance to be important for motivation. They say it is a motivator for staying at a company, and it can increase loyalty to the employer. Many of the respondents revealed their current organization offers support for them to achieve work-life balance. As a result, they are “extremely satisfied” and appreciate how the organization they work for finds ways to improve their job environment and create flexible work conditions.
The work-life balance (WLB) has become a top priority for workers. Therefore, some organization are implementing and managing WLB programs and policies to see if having an “open office environment” that entails work flexibility arrangements will lead to greater job satisfaction, performance and collaboration, which, ultimately, increases productivity. It is important that employees are happy and not ignored when they have commitments and other activities that are important to them – including spending time with family, taking part in sport and recreation, volunteering, and so on.
Although many companies in the area have yet warmed up to the practice of telecommuting—i.e., working from home or a remote location—possibly due to a traditional corporate culture, times are beginning to change within the UAE and wider Middle East. This practice can help prevent employee burnout, poor morale, lack of motivation and high attrition. Data show that telework and an open office environment have a positive correlation with job satisfaction.
Data collected online from 14 December 2014 to 14 January 2015, in a poll, which notes the current skills and hiring trends in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, show people in the UAE are amongst the happiest in the region when it comes to factors related to work-life balance. In the past, there was not much company support for achieving a healthy balance, but today it is a different story.
Other than work-life balance, the leading motivators for employees across the MENA region include training and development opportunities. Internal training is seen as the best way to help employees acquire knowledge and skills for their jobs.