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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

BUPA surveys Egyptian and global business leaders on how well they coped with 2021

POLL- How are Egypt and global business leaders coping with the stresses of 2021? Let’s just say that it’s not as well as we’d like, according to the BUPA Global Executive Wellbeing Index 2021. The survey explores how business executives worldwide are coping with mental health in 2021 by questioning over 1k high-net-worth individuals and senior executives from Egypt, France, Hong Kong, mainland China, the UAE, the US and the UK, and Singapore about their work, home and health. The consensus: It’s been a gruelling year with the majority of execs struggling to cope with the strain of managing organizations. The silver lining: Managers have become much more empathetic to the mental health needs of employees.

Execs globally aren’t as optimistic about an economic recovery in 2021, compared to 2020, with 19% of those polled expecting a recovery in the global economy in 2021 compared to 32% the previous year.

In Egypt, the disparity is even wider as only 10% of polled executives expect a global recovery in 2021 as opposed to 34% last year.

Egypt business leaders are more optimistic about local recovery, however, with 20% believing the economy will bounce back. This comes as Egypt execs reported a low concern around covid-19, with only 27% feeling anxiety from the threat of the ongoing pandemic.

77% of polled execs globally reported experiencing at least one symptom of poor mental health, up from 70% in 2021. More than a third experienced insomnia or disturbed sleep, 28% have struggled to make decisions, 30% reported low moods and anxiety, and 24% have been angry. Other symptoms experienced include low energy or fatigue (37%) and appetite and weight changes (28%).

Egypt’s leaders are doing worse, with 82% experiencing poor mental health this year. The most commonly reported challenges are low mood, sadness or anxiety (41%), feeling angry or impatient (31%) mood swings (29%), and obsessive or compulsive thoughts (22%). Anxiety doubled compared to last year and anger and impatience rose by 55%, signifying that these symptoms are becoming more prevalent in the Egyptian business community.

However, 92% of them have taken positive steps to help manage or prevent their symptoms, with most adopting self-help strategies such as using mindfulness or meditation (39%), confiding in family and friends (39%) and making improvements to their diet (35%). They are also the most likely to spend some time every day enjoying the natural environment, with 35% embracing their inner hippie compared to 26% of global execs.

Work-life balance is at the center of it all: A third of Egypt’s execs are working from home more often and 32% are encouraging more flexible work practices. 41% cut down their working hours while 29% are reducing work efforts during their downtime.

Of all the regions spotlighted in the Index, Egyptians are the most likely to support a four-day workweek, with 39% convinced this would boost productivity — almost twice the global average of 20%.

Another silver lining: 61% of Egypt’s business leaders have sought professional help to mitigate their mental health issues. Women were more likely than men to reach out.

The emphasis on wellbeing is also trickling down to employees: Some 39% of business leaders said they would increase focus on employee wellbeing and firms are expected to increase spending on mental health support by 30% this year. Half of the companies surveyed offer mental health coverage in their insurance plans while 27% are planning to implement it in the future. The most widely used initiative was flexible work patterns (66%) to accommodate employees' non-work life.

CEOs are taking on the new role of Chief Empathy Officer or CEmO, which entails them showing more empathy and understanding to individual circumstances. Some 40% of firms now have a CEmO position in their ranks, with many bringing in people from outside the organisation to fill the new role. Meanwhile, 24% are planning to introduce it next year. The main attributes for the ideal CEO in Egypt were understanding (41%), humility (39%) and cultural intelligence (32%).

Inclusion and diversity are also big priorities: A shift towards inclusion in the workplace could take place locally, with 98% of Egyptian leaders planning to increase the number of women and people from different socio-economic groups at board-level.

What are business priorities going forward? A review of office space and facilities is in order for 37% of global respondents, while 35% want to balance the bottomline with a greater sense of purpose. 35% want more online sales and marketing, 35% will invest in more tech, and 37% believe a green agenda will be a part of their firms’ strategy.

You can check out the full report (pdf) or browse through the infographic (pdf).

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