Burnout and fatigue seem to be stalking business chiefs, and to offset this they are thinking retirement, going part-time or become independent consultants. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Are senior executives in the UAE planning career changes? A study by the insurer Bupa seem to suggest so, with more than half polled by the company say they are reassessing their priorities and considering a career switch in 2023. For some it would be about taking on more ‘me’ time, in the company of family and friends.

The ‘rethinking of priorities’ will lead to wave of change, globally and locally, according to Bupa. For middle and top management, that would mean becoming independent consultants, work part-time, retire or stop working completely.

In the last 12 months, 94 per cent of senior business executives experienced symptoms of poor mental health, with one in five complaining of burnout. But few (17 per cent) have sought help for these issues. This is going to be a concern, as last year’s data had found that over two-thirds say they had spoken to a doctor or professional about their mental health.

“There is still much work to be done to alleviate the stigma around mental health and reluctance to ask for help, which has led to many suffering from burnout, anxiety and low mood,” said Dean Pollard, General Manager, Bupa Global Middle East and Asia.

We believe a shift is in motion with a collective rethinking of priorities that will hopefully lead to healthier, happier senior management – essential for the success of any organisation.

- Dean Pollard, General Manager, Bupa Global Middle East and Asia

Ways of the mind

If it’s not burnout, CEOs are having to deal with disillusionment, which segues into sadness and anxiety, ‘categorised as low mood couple with a lack of energy’. One in five of these UAE-based top executives have subsequently experienced ‘feelings of anger, mood swings and burnout’.

Employee wellbeing

The inflation surge is high on business leaders’ list of biggest worries for the year. “The picture is similar in the UAE, with 28 per cent of those surveyed citing rising cost of living and inflation as their biggest daily worry,” according to the Bupa survey.

Despite this, companies in the UAE plan to significantly invest in employee wellbeing and mental health, allocating on average over Dh5.3 million towards employee wellness.

There is increased investment in training for staff, while 15 per cent introduced ‘softer benefits’. (And 14 per cent of UAE corporate chiefs have reduced inessential spending such as business lunches and social events and ‘opted to redirect the spending towards wellbeing initiatives for staff’.)