Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Boosting staff morale key as Sheikh Mohammed raises bar for customer service

Government organisations told to foster positive work culture to meet Ruler of Dubai's calls for improvements

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, is urging government service centres to up their game to meet the changing demands of customers. Wam   Wam
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, is urging government service centres to up their game to meet the changing demands of customers. Wam   Wam

Improving staff morale will help employers meet the demands of a major government drive to raise customer service standards across the Emirates, recruiters said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Saturday that senior managers at five failing government service centres would be dismissed for poor performances. Senior staff and the ministries they represent will be assessed annually.

The radical shake-up came after the results of a two-month review of 600 service centres in the country – naming the five best and worst performers – were made public.

Emirates Post’s Al Khan branch in Sharjah was bottom of the ratings due to weak employee performance. Inspectors said the mechanisms in place to deliver services were poor and staff morale was low.

The Ruler of Dubai said improving services will remain a “major priority” for the nation’s leaders.

Recruiters said ensuring the well-being of workers – through trust, flexibility and even the odd doughnut break – would lead to greater customer satisfaction.

“A successful company or organisation runs on a very simple give-and-take logic,” Rohini Bhalla, senior consultant at GGC, a HR consultancy in Dubai, told The National.

“When you take responsibility for making sure staff are happy, that automatically translates to good employee and customer satisfaction.”

While many tend to point the finger at an employee when a company is performing badly, it usually indicates the problem is much deeper.

“It’s the environment that needs to be fixed," Ms Bhalla said.

“Employers need to communicate with and coach employees more effectively in order for things to run smoothly.”

The introduction of well-being initiatives such as flexible working hours and simple gestures like weekly doughnut breaks in office can boost employee morale.

“One company on our portfolio has introduced a monthly 'Coffee with the CEO' initiative,” she said.

“Another of our clients has given childcare vouchers to employees. It is gestures like this that make workers feel valued.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, made a surprise visit to government departments in 2016 to assess productivity. Courtesy Dubai Media Office
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, made a surprise visit to government departments in 2016 to assess productivity. Courtesy Dubai Media Office

Vineetha Mathew, founding partner of Sustainable Mindz, a corporate sustainability centre in Dubai, said organisations aiming to create a "happiness culture" have to look beyond the physical symbols of happiness.

“It requires policies and systems to be put in place to nurture employees and make them feel well-engaged.

“Companies cannot thrive if they standardise how an employee works. Given today’s lifestyle trends, employees need more freedom in the way they work.”

They demand flexibility, not just in terms of working hours and space, but by "creating work processes that work for them", she said.

In 2018, Sustainable Mindz launched the Happiness@Work Award, an initiative that recognises forward thinking public and private-sector organisations that promote positivity and belonging in the workplace.

When you take responsibility for making sure staff are happy, that automatically translates to good employee and customer satisfaction

Rohini Bhalla, senior HR consultant

Earlier this year, Dubai Police was declared the happiest place to work in the public sector while Aafaq Islamic Finance was awarded the honour in the private sector category.

Touching on employer responsibility, Louise Vine, managing director of Inspire Selection, a recruitment agency in Dubai, said companies need to understand the factors contributing towards a lack of morale.

“One complaint we hear a lot relates to poor management. A manager who should not be managing could be the one thing bringing employee mood down,” she said.

But simple factors like allowing people to leave on time and taking time to discuss someone’s career goals can help achieve a happy workplace.

“When people are stressed about work their mind is not on the job,” Ms Vine said.

“Take away the stress about not being paid on time, having to miss their kid’s birthday as they’re working late, and the workplace will become so much more enjoyable.”

When it comes to high staff turnover rates, Ms Vine and Ms Bhalla said recruitment trends show companies employing people in "customer-facing and sales roles" are hardest hit.

Pressure to sell can be high in this demanding market, Ms Vine said, so offer incentives to make employees feel more empowered, more valued and less disposable.

But introducing interactive workshops to improve training could boost employee confidence and see a positive upturn in customer satisfaction rates, Ms Bhalla said.

For employees looking to find the right fit for them in a thriving workplace, Kamal Al Samarrai, CEO of Dawaam, said job advertisements can tell you a lot about a company.

“You need to look for job posts that are specific to the job role and have a lot of detail. A list of generic requirements is not a good indicator,” he said.

“If a company has taken the time to curate an eye-catching, coherent advertisement, it shows they are keen to familiarise potential employees with their company.”

He said it is worth checking if the company has undergone a recent restructure and is continuing to secure new projects globally too.

“A company that promotes stability and growth will always be on the lookout for exciting young professionals to grow with them.”

Updated: September 15, 2019 07:50 PM

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