Global headhunter Payal Bhatia says it’s time for GCC businesses to put an end to burnout

Author: PM editorial | Date: 05 Oct 2015

“HR has to get on top of work-life balance”

Payal BhatiaIn the bustling, cosmopolitan cities of the Gulf region, the line between work and home is becoming increasingly blurred, and HR directors have a responsibility to respond, according to Payal Bhatia, Dubai-based business partner for recruitment agency Robbert Murray & Associates. People Management asked her why it’s such a pressing problem.

Why is promotion of work-life balance so important in the GCC right now?
This is an economically buoyant region that attracts more than 200 nationalities – highly driven professionals with big aspirations, but who are also under constant pressure to meet stretched budgets. This leads to a demand on staff to consistently “overperform” and deliver results.
Performance and rewards motivate many employees to spend more time at work, climb up the corporate ladder and earn more. The cost of sustaining a comfortable lifestyle drives them to aspire even more. Sadly, the short-term gains do not justify the debilitating impact on employees’ long-term emotional wellbeing, social life and health.
We have seen a lot of candidates leaving very good positions because they have become frustrated and burnt out. As a result, organisations lose talented employees. The work-life imbalance, therefore, impacts both the company and the employee.
What steps should HR professionals be taking?
Top management understands only profit and loss. The HR department should be proactive in making them realise that by improving work-life balance for staff, they can get other benefits in terms of lower expenses, increased productivity and a better bottom line. Aside from regularly interacting with employees, HR can use modern technology to help support this cause.
For example, we’ve encountered a company where HR used finger-scanning software to convince the management to allow flexible hours for employees. The software’s reporting capability resolved management’s concerns over discipline in completing tasks and observing work hours. In addition, employees become more productive, as they no longer had to worry about being late to work.
Based on your experience dealing with businesses in the region, where does work-life balance stand on their list of priorities?
Unfortunately, it simply is not a priority for many of the companies here. It is not that the management does not understand its importance; it has more to do with the fact that they need help in terms of the possible solutions available to them so they can address management issues and enforce the policy.