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Half of employers say supporting staff mental health and well-being is one of their main challenges during Corona Virus crisis, says new CIPD survey



The CIPD release findings from its latest market pulse, which looked at how employers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the financial pressure and heightened uncertainty caused by the crisis, mental health is quickly becoming one of Middle East employers’ top priorities in the region.

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, surveyed 120 HR professionals in the Middle East mid-April to identify the key challenges employers are facing during this crisis and provide a benchmark for organisations in the region.

More employers (53%) reported that mental health and well-being is a key priority right now than deciding on the best way to respond to the financial impact on their business (49%)
, despite the uncertainty many organisations find themselves in.

While this is good news, the survey finds that organisations in the Middle East are ill-equipped to support employees’ mental health, with a third of organisations (33%) reporting they have not done anything yet to address the challenge – often lacking the strategy or means.

The CIPD is encouraging employers to have constant communication with their workforce and take early action to offer support such as counselling and ensure line managers are trained and confident to support employees’ continued well-being, both those in the workplace and those working from home. 

Most of the pressure on employees is a direct consequence of the financial impact on businesses. In the region, the most common measures taken to respond to this crisis include: asking staff to take annual leave (49%), pay or working hour reductions (41%) and redundancies (30%). While it remains a rare approach, 14% of respondents say their Executive Team are considering foregoing their salaries this year.

The adoption of remote working is certainly the most important change that employers and managers are having to adapt to. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, less than 15% of organisations had any work-from-home arrangements and – for the majority of those – it applied to less than 10% of the workforce, the survey finds. Under the government directives however, 60% of companies report that all employees worked from since the beginning of the outbreak.

With every change comes a set of challenges. For 40% of organisations, tracking and managing the performance of employees working remotely is one of their top 3 challenges, with nearly half of employers being somewhat concerned about their employees’ productivity, and 27% being very concerned.

There have long been talks about adopting more fluid approaches to performance management. Yet, the survey and focus groups conducted show that many organisations in the region still measure performance on input rather than output – often using working hours as an indication of performance, which is posing a significant challenge in today’s conditions.


The CIPD surveyed 119 HR and L&D practitioners from across the region between 1 and 25 April 2020. 55% of respondents are from the UAE, 14% in Saudi Arabia and 10% in Qatar.


Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma



Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here:

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Press Releases

Gulf Sustainability Awards are open for entries



HR Revolution Middle East has been announced as an official media partner of the 2021 Gulf Sustainability Awards.

Taking place in Dubai on September 20, 2021, the new-look Gulf Sustainability Awards will celebrate the very best in sustainable practice and environmental, social, and corporate governance in the MENA region.

Hosted by Awards International, the Gulf Sustainability Awards 2021 offers entrants 14 categories in which to submit a written entry.

That will then be judged by an independent panel of business experts with a focus on sustainability, ESG, and CSR. A shortlist of finalists with the highest scores will then be revealed, with a team of representatives from each organisation invited to present their initiatives live at the awards final.

Judges will score presentations on the day, and category winners – alongside 2021’s Overall Winner – will be revealed at a glittering live awards ceremony, hosted by a very special guest.

Welcoming HR Revolution  Middle East on-board as a media partner, Awards International’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, Aleksandar Ilić, said: “We are thrilled to be joined by HR Revolution for our new look Gulf Sustainability Awards.

“Having the support and influence of the MENA region’s premier human resources portal is a major asset in our aim of celebrating corporate social responsibility, as HR is crucial to ensuring success in that field, especially around the category focusing on the best workplace and HR practices.

“We can’t wait to discover the sustainability and CSR strategies that are changing the face of business practise in the Gulf, and we are excited to be welcoming the most dedicated organisations to compete, live, in Dubai later this year.”

To discover more about sponsoring and partnership opportunities at the 2021 Gulf Sustainability Awards, visit the official website.

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Now is the time to make wellbeing & mental health at work a strategic priority

The fifth annual Wellbeing @ Work Middle East Summit returns for a virtual festival on 22-24 February 2021. The three-day Summit is for HR, Wellbeing, Benefit and Business Leaders from across the Middle East who are facing business critical employee wellbeing and mental health challenges and those leaders who want to take their wellbeing and mental health strategies to the next level.

It is time to build back successfully with a people first agenda and an impressive speaker line-up awaits attendees who will also have full access to an unrivalled AI enabled virtual platform where they can connect and meet with other like-minded delegates for world-class networking two weeks leading up the Summit.

Delegates can hear and engage with leading employers and workplace experts from across the world including the Global Human Resources Director from Daraz (Alibaba Group), Chief Human Resources Officer at Jumeriah Group, Global Belonging Lead Mental Health from Spotify, Director of Human Resources at NEOM, Director of Human Resources at Zain Bahrain, Group Head of Talent Acquisition at Chalhoub Group, Global HR Director and D&I Lead for MEA from Schneider Electric and the Global Leader of Diversity & Inclusion from Nielsen to name just a few.

In addition to expert content, attendees will be provided with invaluable workshops on specific areas of delivering a successful workplace wellbeing strategy, up to the minute data and case studies from the world’s leading employers and entertainment throughout the three-day festival. 

Sonas Group CEO, Chris Cummings said ‘Whilst mental health and wellbeing in the workplace was rising in importance in recent years, 2020 was the year when every organization had to prioritise the health of their employees. Companies who want to build back successfully must prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of their people and the Wellbeing @ Work Summit provides the tools, advice and information business leaders need to achieve this effectively’.

After a seismic shift last year, The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice, and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organisation is paramount right now.

For further information, registration details and group discounts to attend the Summit, please visit the event website here or email the Delegate Manager Paula Taker

Notes to Editor:

The Wellbeing @ Work Summits are annual conferences taking place across the world and organized by Sonas Group Ltd. For further information, please contact

Chris Cummings, CEO, Sonas Group

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