20200909 coronavirus uae
The vaccinations are proving a point - UAE's residents are feeling good on their health and well-being. It's on the job and financial situation they have a worry. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Citizens and residents of the UAE are taking COVID-19 in their strides – if one goes by a ‘global health and well-being index’ issued by US health insurer Cigna. The survey found residents were able to better cope with the pandemic’s fallout despite having to deal with job security concerns.

For this outcome, the UAE’s focus on fast-track and saturation vaccination coverage was instrumental. “The fear of contracting the coronavirus declined sharply – from 37 per cent in December 2020 to 22 per cent in March-April 2021,” states the Cigna findings. “The UAE’s health and well-being outlook is stronger than in the global markets.”

But it is a different situation at workplaces, by recording one of the highest scores - 88 per cent - on stress at work. "There is much work to be done - people have consistently suffered from overwork, which has led a half of the UAE’s working population to consider leaving their jobs," said Jerome Droesch, regional CEO at Cigna. "There is a wide gap in the workplace wellness of the country’s citizens and residents, who are among the most stressed in the world.

"It is time that employers step up and offer more care and support to their staff. We need to work as a community to raise awareness and drive positive change on this front.”

Change of jobs

Going forward, it will be the UAE’s employment scene that will likely see the most dramatic changes. Nearly half of those in the UAE in the survey have intentions to change their job in the next 12 months compared to a global average of 31 per cent. (Many may already have had decisions forced on them because of job cuts.)

Not surprisingly, the 18–34-year olds are most likely to make the switch, with 55 per cent thinking on these lines. And among the 35-59 year residents, job insecurity fears are at their peak – in fact, more than the global average.

Around 45 per cent in this ‘sandwich generation’ exhibit that fear in the UAE against the 25 per cent global average. “This age group is also financially stressed with their ranking on the financial well-being index dropping to lower than pre-pandemic levels - from 57.1 in January 2020 to 55.1 in March-April 2021,” says Cigna.

Piled under work

Changes to the work cultures brought on by COVID-19 too are leaving its scars. Respondents in the Cigna poll point to excessive workloads since last year. And without adequate support being made available.

“The largest gap lies in mental health support, where 34 per cent claim to have a lack of support and 39 per cent feel they need access to resilience training for mental health,” the report states. “This gap in mental health support is significantly higher among women (42 per cent).

“Thirty-three per cent felt uncared-for or witnessed a lack of understanding by their employers. Stress among UAE workforce, although lower than pre-pandemic period, ranks among the highest in the world at 88 per cent.”