By Shaima AlTamimi (@iamshaima)
It has been a while since I wanted to discuss a topic of paramount importance and as I write this, something tells me this piece maybe a hit or miss. Either way, I know it needs to be discussed.
A few months ago, I was sitting with friends and family members and someone was making fun of how their colleagues always give lousy excuses to skip work. Another relative of mine who recently graduated from the UK, told me about a research she conducted for a company in the UAE as part of her dissertation program. She shared the following facts with us from her findings.
In the year 2009, the total number of sick leave days taken from a company of approximately 5000 employees was around 18,000 days. The vast nature of this company entails having employees at the HQ and employees in the fields. You would think that field employees would incur more sick leave days due to hazardous work conditions and hot weather, but think again. 65% of total sick leaves were taken by office employees.
As common sense would also have it, the older you grow, the sicker you become right? Well in this case, 45% of sick leave taken was by employees under the age of 35. Employees over the age of 50 accounted for only 15% of total sick leave.
The real shocker now is in comprehending the fact that the UAE nationals make up almost 12,000 days of sick leave. Let us just assume that sick leave is the measure for well-being. Does this mean that Emiratis are sick and do not have access to proper healthcare? Surely not.
I find these statistics very disturbing, not only because they represent an obvious abuse of the corporate trust placed on employees, but mainly because many Emiratis ruin the reputation of their fellow colleagues who are hard working and sincere. The youth have been fighting this stereotypical phenomenon that Emiratis are lazy and do not work. I am not here to say this is true or false, but I am here to shed light on the fact that it does not apply to all Emiratis.
Contrary to popular belief, not all UAE nationals are born with a golden spoon in their mouth. Even if some are, many have the desire and determination to make a name for themselves just like anybody else.
Take Noura Al Kaabi from twofour54, a young lady who graduated from the UAE University and leads her company with all professionalism. There is Nayla Al Khaja, one of the leading Emirati directors who opened her own production company right after graduation. Let us not forget the Wildpeeta brothers who struggled to open their currently thriving Emirati Shawarma concept after 7 years of chasing for funding. How about Ali Al Saloom, who quit his government job to start his own cultural consultancy that now serves the biggest repeat private and government clients? Check out Saleh Al Braiki with his GCC wide initiative called “Think Up GCC” which is a platform for supporting Khaleejis start up businesses and talents. The list goes on with inspiring people that do more than just show up to work!
I fail to understand the high level of sick leave reports. Is it because Emiratis are not given enough responsibilities? Or, is it because they do not have the drive to carry out their responsibilities in a trustworthy manner? Perhaps some of them work for the sake of receiving a paycheck, but that heralds another problem where human resources do not give the best of their performance, leading to low productivity and waste of resources.
Minimizing the rate of such abuse is a matter that needs further research. We need to delve into the psychology of Emirati employees and understand the root of this cause as opposed to implement the traditional method of tightening sick leave rules. Investigation onto the employees’ morale and career goals could be a place to start when it comes to identifying how they wish to develop their careers for a mutual benefit. Going from rags to riches in 40 years, we have had a lot of adjustments to deal with at the speed of light. Perhaps this is why learning from other “Sick Leave Abuse” case studies may not apply, but I know one thing for sure, this is not a chronic trend and it can be changed with the right measures.
Sail eMagazine’s 18th Issue – September 2011
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Community Talk – Food for Thought
Just Another Undergrad – Society of Tomorrow – The First Years Last Forever
The Mind’s Eye – To the Point – Too Blunt for Words – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Latest posts by Shaima Al Tamimi (@iamshaima) (see all)
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- A Suggestion for Tackling Obesity in the UAE - March 1, 2013