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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Happiness in the workplace underpins a sustainable business environment

Happy employees are productive, engaged, and loyal employees and for companies who value sustainability, they are an asset worth investing in

In successful business, employee happiness must be a top priority. It is a key component of business performance, it is a catalyst for company prosperity, and it contributes immensely to the long-term sustainability of an organization. In the workplace, happiness translates to employee productivity, engagement, and retention; all of which are mutually dependent on one another and are fundamental pillars of an effective and advantageous corporate culture.

According to Growth Everywhere, companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20 percent. These are the companies whose workforces are highly engaged and in turn, highly productive and committed to their organization. There are clear advantages of having happy and engaged employees, but even so, only 13 percent of workers around the world consider themselves actively engaged in their jobs, while nearly one quarter are actively disengaged, says data from a 2016 meta-analysis by The Gallup Organization.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, these figures are largely consistent: only one in ten MENA employees are engaged in their jobs, while more than half are not engaged and 35 percent are actively disengaged. However, these figures are more promising in the Gulf Countries, with more than a quarter of employees in Qatar and the UAE reporting that they are engaged in their jobs and fewer than 15 percent reporting that they are actively disengaged. As GCC countries have evolved into business hubs, with their bustling metropolises and ever-expanding enterprise, the companies that flourish are those who understand that at the core of sustainable business growth are employees that are fulfilled and engaged, and by extension, invested in their jobs.

Employee happiness has a direct impact on workplace productivity. In 2015, a study by the University of Warwick found that high employee satisfaction increased productivity by 12 percent — and last year, a Bayt.com ‘Employee Loyalty in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll found that according to MENA professionals, the top three benefits of employee loyalty are higher efficiency and productivity, stronger team relationships, and employee satisfaction. The statistics don’t lie: employees themselves recognize the importance of high workplace morale in a company’s success. In turn, prosperous companies dedicate the time and resources needed to keep employees engaged, happy, and fulfilled in their work.

With these figures in mind, du prioritizes the happiness of employees, recognizing that a skilled, diverse, and motivated workforce is crucial in keeping up with the dynamic technology industry and the evolving needs of customers. In turn, we have spent the last year looking at ways to enhance the way we identify and recruit our people; how we compensate them; how to provide new opportunities for their learning and development; and placing their wellbeing and happiness at the top of our priority list.

We have dedicated time and resources to facilitating workplace happiness and employee satisfaction, and we’ve seen our intentions come to fruition. Since 2014, our Gallup employee engagement score has increased from 4.29 to 4.44 overall. In the same timeframe, our workforce’s satisfaction with employee wellness activities has increased from 4.39 to 4.66, and by extension, the impact of wellness activities on employee satisfaction at du has increased from 4.38 to 4.66. At du, we credit our sustained success to our philosophy of building and strengthening an enterprise from the inside out — and we are staunchly committed to improving employee engagement levels throughout our organization.

Further, by investing in workplace happiness, du doesn’t only support our own strength and success — we also support Dubai’s Happiness Agenda, an extension of the Smart City vision which aims to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. Among other objectives of the Happiness Agenda, it aims to guide business leadership to consider the impact of happiness on their companies as key players in Dubai’s social and economic sustainability. Happiness is often perceived as an obscure and elusive property; but the Happiness Agenda works to develop a shared understanding of it by building a unified definition of happiness to help guide strategic actions in Dubai that promote happiness.

At du, we have ambitious long-term goals, and business sustainability will be utterly vital in achieving them. We know that at the core of our sustainability is a happy and engaged workforce, so we are dedicated to ensuring that our employees’ wellbeing comes first. A sustainable company is built from the inside out — and we support this principle through our many initiatives that prioritize employee happiness above all.

Ibrahim Nassir is the chief human resources and administration officer at du