At du, the doctor will see you in your office

How many workers struggle to find the time to book and get to the doctor around their work hours? Well, if you work for du, the doctor comes to you.

That’s just one of the benefits offered by the UAE telecoms company, which has built up a comprehensive wellness programme since it kicked off plans for an in-house clinic in 2009.

Mansoor Habib, the senior director for employee wellness and happiness, was hired to set up the clinic, and his role has rapidly grown to cover everything from weight loss events and fitness challenges to introducing health screenings for new employees. Dr Habib went to medical school in Ireland and worked at the Ministry of Health and Dubai Health Authority as a physician before being headhunted by du to set up the clinic for its 1,800 staff.

He has since trained in life coaching, marital counselling and emotional intelligence, as “a GP is not just treating the physical aspects”, he explains.

“We have a social responsibility to the employees – they are not machines,” he adds.

Nearly 30 per cent of US companies with more than 5,000 workers now have on-site or nearby clinics offering some kind of basic care, up from 24 per cent in 2013, according to a survey last year by benefits consultant Mercer.

But while risky businesses in this region, such as oil and gas companies, have on-site doctors, it’s not usual practice for telecoms companies, says Dr Habib.

Du runs quarterly events such as blood pressure, sugar checks, and eye and ear assessments; eight activity clubs for cricket, table tennis and even yoga; and a six-week weight loss challenge, now in its fourth year and with 240 participants. The biggest loser dropped 17 kilograms.

But perhaps the boldest step the company has taken is to make its top 80 executives “walk the talk”, linking 5 per cent of their bonuses for the past three years to hitting personal health targets on weight, blood pressure and fitness levels. Dr Habib says it was very successful.

q&a setting a healthy example

Dr Mansoor Anwar Habib tells Suzanne Locke more about his role heading employee wellness and happiness at du:

Dr Habib, do you “walk the talk” yourself?

Two years ago my fitness was on and off. Since I’ve seen the momentum of the organisation, I’ve started attending events – I did my first marathon earlier this year, as well as the Spartan Challenge and an obstacle-based 5 kilometre race. I published a book in Arabic a few months ago about health, called The Carpenter’s Door Is Always Broken, based on the fact that physicians do the opposite (to what they recommend to patients).

What’s your philosophy for wellness?

An individual comes to work filled with energy and, like a car, in return the workplace has to refuel them. Otherwise they are coming in full and leaving three-quarters or half full, which has an impact on their home, family and the social aspect of the equation. I don’t have control of an individual socially but I can make sure an employee does not get depleted in the workplace.

Has the department always had this upbeat name?

No, we recently changed the name from the medical ser­vices department to the employee wellness and happiness department. Since then, I come to work with a big smiley face.

What services do you provide in-house?

As well as the clinic, we have a gym and a healthy vending machine that sells salads, fruit and juices.

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