Opinion | Your Say

Focus: What makes a happy work environment?

About 65 per cent of the UAE’s population is suffering from anxiety issues

  • - Compiled by Huda Tabrez, Community Web Editor
  • Published: 00:00 June 30, 2012
  • Gulf News

What makes a happy work environment?
  • Image Credit: Gulf News
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In a world where many are employees and spend a good 8 to 10 hours every day at work, the need to be in a happy environment is crucial to the well being of society at large. According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), about 65 per cent of the UAE’s population is suffering from anxiety issues. What is it that is making work environments negative? Gulf News readers discuss.

What is the one factor that is missing in today’s work environment that is making employees unhappy?

Dr John Mathew

It has to do with the manager-employee relationship. How does the manager take care of the employee? Some of the research done across the world on employee engagement shows Latin American countries have the maximum rate of engagement and Europe has the least. Middle East comes somewhere in between. So, if you look at two people, one of them would be unhappy with their work life.

Marjan Asarzadegan

I run a small family business and we have 70 to 100 people working for us. I believe you have to see what your employee is good at. If they are good in one thing, give them bigger responsibilities based on the things they like. They will be happier. Another thing that is important is the respect that you show to each other. I think that is missing. With so many cultures working together in the UAE, it is very important to give the needed respect to one another.

Dr John Mathew

According to a popular research done in the GCC, for both expatriates and GCC nationals, the most important thing was career progression. At the second place was learning and development opportunities and salary was third. People often think if employees are unhappy it is because of a low salary, which is not always the case.

Marjan Asarzadegan

Yes, because salary is always something challenging – even if you earn a really good salary, you always aim to have a higher salary. I don’t think that is the issue. I think the most important thing is do you really like your job? Some actually take a job because they ‘need’ a job, so they aren’t really happy at work. They are in a competitive market and they might not have the job that they want.

Dr John Mathew

If you look at the social demographic of the region, a majority come here to save a bit and send it back home. So, from a career perspective, the longevity of your job becomes a dilemma.

Are employees too mechanical in their approach, so much so that it interferes with the joy of the job?

Marjan Asarzadegan

It is more about creating that passion in an employee’s work as a manager. If I have somebody working for me, how limiting would the environment be that I create for them? Would you give them challenges, send them to places and make them more responsible? I think that is more the management’s job.

Dr John Mathew

Exactly! It is a circle – the environment that you create is what makes employees respond to it. How well have we created an environment that actually makes it possible for them to not worry about the time they spend in a day? It is about creating a culture – some people stay back just for the sake of it. I assume you would be more productive if you produce the work that you’ve been hired for within the time you’ve been given. It doesn’t mean that you don’t put in extra hours when needed, but it shouldn’t become a culture.

Marjan Asarzadegan

I think it also depends on the culture of a region. For example, in the Iranian culture, it is really a habit to stay back in the office till 9pm. The work environment focuses on quantity, and so people feel they need to put in extra hours.

Most managers are too insecure to empower their team members.

Dr John Mathew

What really matters is how you manage people and how you define performance. This is what makes an organisation either worry about achieving its annual objectives or get their employees to clock in certain number of hours. In bigger organisations, individual personalities definitely make a difference.

Marjan Asarzadegan

It also depends on a person’s work. If you need to go out to do field work, sales for example, I as a manager should be able to say, “Alright, this is your objective, you don’t need to come in to the office if the work is getting done, just come at the end of the month with the results that I want.” A team that is free performs better. There are always people who will work for money, and they will always focus on basic needs. But there are other people who could afford to go to a university or live in a developed country, and they are willing to pursue their passion because they know they will be able to perform better if it is something they have a passion for.

Dr John Mathew

In the coming ten years, the age range of 21-35 is going to increase significantly, especially in the Middle East. So, especially in this generation aspects like career progression and learning and development are highly relevant. Whenever we talk about the challenges in human resource, managing that generation of the work force is one of the biggest challenges. They definitely need a different approach.

Marjan Asarzadegan

But that’s the challenge for the managers and they should be able to face it.

Gulf News
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