De Montfort University wins a Silver Award in the Best Leadership Succession Category at the Employee Happiness Awards 2024

There has been a significant surge in employee happiness initiatives across the globe in recent years. Organisations have recognised the crucial link between employee well-being and overall productivity. Several studies have linked happiness with boosted productivity and profitability. Initiatives ranging from flexible work arrangements and mental health support to professional development opportunities have all become part of the norm, aimed at creating a more supportive and engaging work environment.

Over the last few years, the Employee Happiness Awards (EHA) has become a renowned platform to recognize and celebrate companies that excel in creating such work environments. At the 2024 edition, De Montfort University (DMU) Dubai was honoured with the ‘Best Leadership Succession Strategy’ award for its commitment to fostering leadership and career advancement among its academic staff — an honour that could potentially set a new benchmark for academia in the region.

Academic careers often lack clarity when it comes to progression. The academic world can sometimes be plagued by rigid structures and traditional hierarchies. Studies have found that while research output is a big marker for progression early on in an academic career, the trajectory could change later on. Outreach, forming partnerships, and teaching have been found to become more important as academics approach leadership levels of experience.

EHA’s Best Leadership Succession Strategy award is handed to organizations that identify staff with leadership potential and provide them with growth programmes and exposure to senior roles. In that context, DMU’s succession planning strategy was found to have significantly enhanced prospects for academic staff who have shown leadership potential. EHA's recognition of DMU is also underpinned by the university's commitment to creating an environment where academic staff can thrive and advance their careers.

Several of DMU’s initiatives stood out for their effectiveness on this front. These include the establishment of a new research case centre, support for professional recognition in teaching and learning, fully fee-waived PhD and Masters study opportunities for staff, and fostering industry interactions for upskilling. The research case centre has been instrumental in providing academic staff with valuable resources and opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research, enabling upward mobility.

"At DMU, we believe in investing in our staff's future," said Prof Dr Mike Gallimore, Head of DMU Dubai. "The research case centre has been a cornerstone of our succession planning strategy. It has offered a platform for research and collaboration and enabled staff to engage in unique projects and gain recognition in their fields. The recognition from EHA, and winning a merit-based award, is a big endorsement of our efforts and motivates us to continue striving for excellence in our line of work."

DMU was among 22 winners in the company categories, which included awards for wellness initiatives, workspace design, and the HR team of the year. Those aside, there were five winners in the individual categories. The other finalists for the ‘Best Leadership Succession Strategy’ category included Landmark Leisure, Dust Thani, and Grand Millennium Business Bay.

EHA is the brainchild of Plan3Media, a leading event management company known for championing a merit-based awards culture in the region. De Montfort’s award followed a rigorous nomination process and included presenting to an independent jury. CEO of Plan3Media, Jatin Deepchandani, spoke of the transparency that brings integrity to the EHA as he congratulated DMU.

“We recognised the need for a platform that truly celebrates merit and genuine achievement,” Deepchandani said. “We’re thrilled to see the results in the UAE HR landscape. It is particularly gratifying to see institutions like De Montfort University being honoured, as they exemplify the true spirit of what we stand for. We congratulate DMU for their outstanding work in fostering leadership and development among their staff, and for setting a benchmark in the academic world.”

Dubai has increasingly become a popular destination for students from around the globe. The UAE National Strategy for Advanced Innovation, which was launched in 2018 to bolster academic research and innovation, has been successful in drawing international students in significant numbers. DMU’s triumph in a closely contested ‘Best Leadership Succession Strategy’ category highlights an important trend in UAE’s academia: The increased focus on employee experience. Such trends could collectively give the country a competitive edge in the changing contours of global talent attraction and retention.