ANANTARA TARGETS OBESITY TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
Luxury resort operator unveils ‘Biggest Loser’ challenge for team members
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 13 September, 2015: Anantara Hotels & Resorts in Abu Dhabi is using a novel approach to increase productivity introducing healthy food and team member challenges to combat obesity and sedentary living habits.
Anantara is recognized in Abu Dhabi as the operator of luxury resort properties including the award winning Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa and three properties on the treasured Sir Bani Yas Island: Desert Islands Resort & Spa, Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort and Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort. According to Area General Manager, Mr Wael Soueid, the health and wellbeing of Anantara’s people is at the core of what makes them a preferred employer.
He explained, that given the nature of the business, hoteliers often work long hours and despite having the best quality cuisine around them, can have poor diets.
“..extended hours and sometimes stressful roles delivering luxury for guests with high expectations takes its toll and can be on occasion at the expense of good eating habits, exercise and the pursuit of active hobbies beyond work. Many people are not aware of the links between health and productivity.”
“We have created our own internal version of the ‘Biggest Loser’ in an attempt to improve morale, lower stress, increase self esteem and drive productivity.”
Anantara’s Biggest Loser challenge embraces healthy eating including dietary guidelines and provision of healthy alternatives in the team member restaurant at each hotel, an exercise plan and access to classes and gym as well as regular weigh in and consultations with in-house personal trainers.
“Through implementing the Biggest Loser challenge we are expecting positive business impacts such as reduced absenteeism from sick days, increased concentration, work focus and performance.” said Wael Soueid.
“In the current economic climate all businesses need to look at their human capital and place greater emphasis on wellbeing and ensuring each team member is as productive as possible. We want our Anantara team in Abu Dhabi to turn up to work and switch on their brains and move into overdrive. Not just show up and turn off.”
The numbers of various surveys around the globe support Soueid’s views.
A study conducted some years ago by Australian health care insurance provider Medibank Private revealed that healthy employees are nearly three times more productive than unhealthy team members, and that unhealthy staff are taking up to nine times more sick leave days and costing Australian business A$7 billion annually. Source: The health of Australia’s workforce, November 2005, Medibank Private
The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) confirms that workplace health programmes can increase productivity citing, ‘healthier employees are more productive’. According to the CDC normal weight men miss an average of 3 days each year due to illness or injury, in comparison an overweight or obese man will miss an additional 2 days per year. Normal weight women miss an average of 3.4 days a year, while their overweight counterparts miss 3.9 days and obese women miss 5.2 days a year. Morbidly obese women with a BMI of 40 or higher miss 8.2 days which more than double a normal-weight woman.
How do we crunch the numbers to determine if placing health first is the right path for businesses? The CDC suggests measuring the cost of providing the health programme against the cost of absenteeism, reduced overtime to cover absent employees and the costs associated with training and replacing employees. Soueid, adds to this saying that in hotels and resorts measures associated with guest satisfaction would also be an indicator. Absenteesim places strain on an operation and the team members who are not sick become stretched.
Putting health programmes into perspective for the money man and using statistics from the United States as an example, the estimated cost of obesity in the workplace including medical expenditures and absenteeism for a company with 1,000 employees is estimated to be AED1,016,590 annually. Source: Finkelstein EA, Brown DS. Why does the private sector underinvest in obesity prevention and treatment? NC Med J. 2006;67(4): 310-312.
“Obesity and diabetes are among the major health problems in the UAE and while we have always encouraged our team members to find work/life balance, at Anantara in Abu Dhabi we’ve decided to add an element of fun and competition across our five properties using inspiration from the highly successful ‘Biggest Loser’ television programme to drive team members to achieve increased fitness, fat loss and optimum health as part of a safe programme under professional supervision. We want our people to be the best they can be.”