The economics of well-being as a metric of good business

Is happiness the next big business metric in the UAE? Does high productivity go hand-in-hand in well-being? Nidal Abou Zaki believes focusing on employees' welfare is the key to good business
The economics of well-being as a metric of good business
Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing director of Orient Planet Group.
By Nidal Abou Zaki
Mon 06 Mar 2017 09:32 AM

Does happiness really play a major role in any organisation’s success? In a work environment where high productivity is a top priority, government departments and private companies have been traditionally perceived as sluggish while responding to their employees’ welfare and requests. The workforce’s well-being seems to have taken the back seat in such a setting.

Fortunately, a growing number of leading public and private organisations are now challenging, if not shattering, such perceptions. The idea of promoting happiness and positivity as a means to increase productivity in the workplace is now sweeping the globe, including the GCC region. Out of the GCC member countries, the UAE Government is at the forefront of this dramatic shift towards enhancing the quality of life of its people.

As a result of the government’s initiatives, the United Nations’ third World Happiness Report has named the Emirates the ‘Happiest Country in the Middle East.’ Further demonstrating their commitment to genuine, tangible and measurable happiness in the state, UAE government leaders have created the UAE Ministry of Happiness. Establishing a dedicated Ministry of Happiness is a concrete proof of the government’s move towards making happiness a fundamental economic metric as much as the gross domestic product (GDP).

Pointing to the findings of various scientific studies, the Minister of Happiness H.E. Ohoud bint Khalfan Al Roumi has said that a happy employee produces twice as much like an unhappy one. The least happy workers are said to be spending 40 per cent of their time doing what they are there to do as opposed to happy workers, who are said to spend 80 per cent of their time on work-related tasks. This proves that people who are happy in the workplace are more efficient and harder working.

Private companies, not just the government, must take heed as it is in their best interest to keep their staff happy. A happy workplace will inevitably result in high creativity, productivity, engagement, and effective problem-solving skills as well as a decrease in employee turnover and sick days. Happier workers stick around longer, bring more energy and enthusiasm to their tasks, and help maintain organisational morale. The well-being of employees is usually tied to compensation, training and development programs, promotions, and other considerations and benefits.

More than anything, it highlights that social relationships are also as important, if not more valuable, to attain happiness. It is thus advantageous to build a working environment that fosters collaboration, good relations, and harmony. The workplace should make everyone feel included, valued, cared for, and competent to help bring out their best efforts.

To further enhance their employees’ experiences, an office set-up that is conducive to enhancing social relationships is crucial. Adequate lighting, comfortable office décor, a quiet environment, breathable air, and empowering team dynamics can contribute to a motivational workplace improvement. Providing the staff with a sense of purpose no matter their rank in the company, offering them opportunities to help others, and instilling gratitude in the workplace can significantly boost employees’ overall personal and professional experience as well.

Life quality and satisfaction are and should be the cornerstone of any growth and development goal in both the government and private sectors. Their impact on human well-being must always be the topmost consideration.

The UAE has already made major strides in this regard, with key measures and policies continuously being implemented to achieve the happiness of all. Government entities have been intensifying their efforts in sync with this national agenda. The UAE ranked 28th in the World Happiness Report released early this year thanks to its relentless and unwavering efforts. Although it dropped eight points from the previous year, the UAE remained first in the region.

In the private sector, employers may deploy programs and initiatives to address issues that are hindering their workers’ overall development. Consistent modification of work practices, the establishment of a warm and friendly work environment, and organisation of activities aimed at bringing people together will significantly help improve their experiences.

Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing director of Orient Planet Group.

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Last Updated: Thu 13 Apr 2017 06:57 PM GST

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