The paper is a research proposal for a PhD project aimed at studying the issue of employee happiness and the initiatives proposed by the government in the United Arab Emirates to increase social well-being and promote happiness among government employees. The significance of the research is caused by the fact that there is a need to extend knowledge regarding employees’ happiness and its contribution to the well-being of the entire society. On the whole, the proposed research is designed to investigate the unique experience connected to happiness promotion in the United Arab Emirates and its practical effects on employees in government sectors such as representatives of local government. The proposed PhD research project includes both theory review and data collection with the help of interviews to evaluate the outcomes of the initiatives accepted to promote employee happiness in a more effective manner. In the end, the collected data will allow predicting further outcomes of the initiatives.
Nowadays, the government of the United Arab Emirates is seeking solutions to many urgent societal problems. The most important tasks of the government involve taking necessary measures to improve the quality of life of its citizens. An important aspect of this issue is that there is a need to focus on the level of citizens’ happiness that defines their well-being. As is clear from the experience of many countries, neglecting the need to search for ways to maintain and increase the level of happiness of the people is a common mistake that comes at a cost. Another fact that contributes to the significance of future research is that there is a need to extend the knowledge regarding government employees’ happiness in connection with the initiatives of the government aimed at increasing their well-being. Within the frame of the future research, I plan to investigate the importance of the well-being of employees working in a government sector, and the particular decisions connected to the sphere accepted by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The latter are supposed to be implemented in order to increase the motivation of the employees and provide all necessary conditions to improve their performance and happiness at work. According to Sheikh Mohammed, the Vice President of Dubai, it is extremely important for the country to implement programmes and policies to create a “positive environment for government employees.”1 The strategy of the government includes measures aimed at shaping a more positive mindset within organizations and developing awareness of the pivotal role that happiness at work plays in increasing the well-being of the entire community. Among other things, the United Arab Emirates is one of the first countries to have established a ministry of happiness in order to contribute to the welfare of the society. Earlier attempts to create such a government body in Venezuela turned out to be unable to make the society happier. Considering the great role that happiness at work plays in modern society, this government initiative seems to be a breakthrough, able to propel the well-being of the citizens to the next level and enhance relationships between the government and common people working in the United Arab Emirates. The problem that encouraged me to choose this very topic is also connected to the fact that there are few sources devoted to well-being in the United Arab Emirates. The research gap that exists in the field needs attention because it is impossible to build a happier society without taking into consideration the attitudes and needs of employees all over the country.
Aim and Objectives of the Research
The proposed research is aimed at studying the problem of employee happiness in government sectors and reviewing the initiatives proposed by the government to build a happier and healthier society. The paper’s research questions are connected to the importance of the well-being of the employees in the public sector and the establishment of the Ministry of Happiness in the United Arab Emirates as one of the first initiatives to promote happiness and improve the quality of life of the citizens. The proposed research is a review that studies the importance of employees’ happiness within the public sector and the recent decisions made to create a more positive environment in the United Arab Emirates.
Within the frame of the proposed research, a few objectives must be fulfilled in order to answer the research question. The objectives of the proposed research are the following:
- To thoroughly study the connection that exists between happiness at work and the ability of the government to increase the prosperity of the country.
- To thoroughly study the measures that can be taken to promote the well-being of employees and increase their performance.
- To thoroughly study the attitudes towards the well-being of the employees in the United Arab Emirates.
- To review previous attempts at promoting employee happiness made by other countries and the reasons why they were not successful.
- To study and review the particular measures taken by the government of the United Arab Emirates in order to promote happiness at work, focusing on employees in public sectors. The discussed measures include establishment of the Ministry of Happiness, setting the national programme to promote happiness, and the launch of the fund to help employees in Dubai.
- To assess the importance of the discussed decisions and their role in increasing the quality of life of employees from the United Arab Emirates.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of these measures and predict further development of the situation with employees’ happiness promotion in the United Arab Emirates.
Studying the problem stated in the proposed research, it is important to review the findings that have already been reported by other researchers in the field. The works written by the key specialists in the field and their conclusions possess a great significance for the proposed research as they can help to identify the knowledge gap connected to the problem. Considering the fact that the topic of employee happiness at government sectors has not been studied for a long time, the findings of other authors should be implemented into the future research. A substantial research needs to be based on credible sources where the basic notions related to the proposed research are defined and the most important links between the notions are established.
Employees’ working performance and the factors that may influence workers’ inclusion have always been the important questions as proper performance and productivity remain the goals of any company. One of the most recent attempts to explore the topic was made by Ibrahim and Al Falasi who have studied the employees’ performance and loyalty in connection to their attitudes to work.2 The employees’ attitudes to work and the levels of their organizational commitment were defined with the help of special questionnaire. The findings reported by the authors indicates that there is a close interconnection between the participants’ high performance levels and their positive attitudes towards the company. The authors touch upon the different dimensions of organisational commitment; although the sample is relatively small, the data presented allows to get an insight into the problem with regard to the mindset of Arab government workers believed to regard loyalty as one of the key values. The findings may help to specify the direction of the proposed research; nevertheless, it is necessary to extend the knowledge using larger scope and studying the particular methods of workplace happiness promotion.
There is no doubt that happiness is a difficult notion that is connected to subjective feelings; due to that, there can be a lot of definitions of the term proposed by different researchers. Workplace happiness involves many constructs and its structure is often regarded as complex. One of the most important studies explaining the nature of workplace happiness was conducted by Fisher.3 According to the author, happiness at work can be identifies as a subjective well-being of a worker connected represented by job satisfaction and work engagement. The research presents one of the most thorough reviews on the subject outlining the variety of constructs and ideas that have appeared recently. The problem has been underestimated by many researchers and due to this fact there are many research gaps in the area such as the vision of employee happiness among people with different cultural assumptions. Organisational happiness can be studied on different levels such as happiness for an individual or the entire group, and specific concepts should be applied in each case. It is necessary to distinguish between the two categories and regard the employee happiness promotion initiatives proposed in UAE in connection to personal subjective feelings of the participants.
Employee happiness promotion remains an extremely important task for the companies, and there are many approaches helping to increase inclusion. The particular strategy depends upon a wide range of factors including the type of organisation. The methods aimed at promoting happiness at work were reviewed in the work by Davis. 4 Thus, happiness promotion should involve measures decreasing burnout among the employees and making the tasks at work more meaningful. Furthermore, employee happiness can be increased with the help of making employees’ activities more diverse and it remains the responsibility of both employers and workers. The idea of the connection between employees’ own assumptions and their happiness level seems to be ignored by the majority of the researchers but workers’ emotional self-regulation is also extremely important.
Also, there was a model developed to increase the level of the employee happiness at work.5 It was based upon the activities connected to personal and organisational factors. Employee happiness can be also studied in order to understand the factors influencing the welfare of the entire community. Golden, Henly, and Lambert conducted a research on the factors determining well-being and motivation of the workers.6 An increased attention was paid to the link between the flexibility of schedule and the level of happiness at work. As it has been indicated, due to flexible schedule the employees work with greater commitment. Changing attitudes towards the problem of employee happiness were studied by Wright.7 Purely theoretical knowledge on well-being within an organization became a basis for numerous initiatives helping to invest in people’s happiness in United Arab Emirates.
Employee happiness promotion needs to be studied with regard to the assumptions popular in UAE. Positive psychology is believed to be quite popular in the country and it may increase the discussed initiatives’ prospects to success.8
In the end, happiness at work presents certain interest for the researchers in different countries. Nevertheless, there is a lack of studies on employee happiness at government sectors in United Arab Emirates, and the proposed work is going to fill this research gap.
Proposed Research Method
As the proposed research focuses on studying employee happiness in government sectors in the United Arab Emirates, the role and the importance of the initiatives aimed at promoting happiness as a part of the lifestyle, the proposed research methods are the following:
- Conduct a substantial literature review on employee happiness, the factors contributing to the well-being of the employees and theoretical models that can be implemented in order to make the employees happier and increase their productivity.
- Study the initiatives pointed at promoting employee happiness announced by the government from a historical perspective and review the background and the primary reasons for developing these initiatives.
- Review and study the initiatives and the approaches to promote employee happiness that have been implemented in other countries and analyse their significance, expected outcomes and the reasons why they have turned out to be unsuccessful.
- Observe the development of the situation with employee happiness promotion in the United Arab Emirates over the course of time.
- Define the primary questions that would allow the estimation of the effectiveness of the measures passed in the United Arab Emirates within the frame of the campaign to promote happiness (such as acceptance of the National Charter for Happiness and Positivity, establishment of the Ministry of Happiness, and creation of the post of the Minister for Happiness).
- Conduct a series of interviews with people working in the public sector in the United Arab Emirates in order to study their personal experience and attitudes towards the initiatives mentioned. If possible, choose people connected to different levels of government. During the interviews, have the conversation while paying attention to the following questions:
- What attitudes did you have towards the initiatives connected to happiness promotion when they were in the discussion stage?
- Have your attitudes towards the initiatives changed over the course of time? Why or why not?
- Did anything change in your professional community with the implementation of the initiatives to promote happiness in the government sector?
- (In case of a positive response) Would you call these changes positive or negative? Why?
- (In case of a negative response) Why has nothing changed?
- What opinions do your colleagues express about these initiatives and their outcomes?
- Do these initiatives influence your performance at work? In what way?
- Have your attitudes towards work changed since the implementation of these initiatives?
- What do you think about the further development of the situation? What else can be done to improve the well-being of your professional community?
- Having collected the data with the help of the interviews, analyse them to define the key tendencies mentioned by the participants in the research.
- Considering all the data collected earlier, evaluate the importance of the happiness promotion experience in the United Arab Emirates and the effectiveness of the initiatives supported by the government of the country.
- Summarise the information to predict the further development of the situation and possible long-term results of the discussed initiatives.
- Write a research report that would summarise the information retrieved from the studies by other researchers, the work performed in order to monitor the situation and the opinions and outcomes reported by the interviewees.
To enhance the proposed PhD research project, I will need access to specialist libraries in order to find additional relevant sources for the study and software to analyse the qualitative interview data that will help me to make a substantial conclusion.
Prepare the final version of the proposal by [insert the necessary date]
Start reviewing the literature relevant to the research on [insert the necessary date]
Complete the review of the literature in the field by [insert the necessary date]
Start collecting the data with the help of in-depth interviewing on [insert the necessary date]
Collect the data for further analysis by [insert the necessary date]
Start analysing the data on [insert the necessary date]
Complete analysis of the data by [insert the necessary date]
Prepare a presentation to show the results of the work by [insert the necessary date]
Deliver a presentation on the results on [insert the necessary date]
Complete final research report by [insert the necessary date]
Present final research report on [insert the necessary date]
I expect the proposed project to become a unique review that takes into consideration all the necessary studies that have been done before and links these to the data retrieved with the help of in-depth interviewing. Therefore, I am sure that it is going to become an important opportunity to study more thoroughly these initiatives and the changes that they bring about. Furthermore, this PhD research project involves considering the opinions of those people whose quality of life and working experiences are supposed to be improved with the help of the pack of happiness promotion initiatives. In a more comprehensive sense, I am sure that this PhD project will allow a better understanding of the structure of the United Arab Emirates and the significance of its unique approach to enhancing the well-being and happiness of its citizens. If the discussed initiatives and the establishment of a happiness ministry turn out to be effective and produce positive changes in citizens’ lives over the course of time, the country will become an example for the entire world to follow.
Davis, S. Increasing happiness in the workplace. The Kabod, vol.3, no.3, 2017, pp. 1-9.
Fisher, C. D. Happiness at work. International journal of management reviews, vol. 12, no.4, 2010, pp. 384-412.
Golden, L., Henly, J., & Lambert, S. ‘Work schedule flexibility: A contributor to employee happiness?’, Journal of Social Research and Policy, 2014.
Ibrahim, M., & Al Falasi, S. ‘Employee loyalty and engagement in UAE public sector’, Employee Relations, vol.36, no.5, 2014, pp. 562-582.
Lambert, L., & Pasha-Zaidi, N, Made in the UAE: An indigenous positive psychology for the United Arab Emirates, Palgrave Macmillan US, New York, 2015.
Williams, P., Kern, M. L., & Waters, L. ‘Inside-Out-Outside-In: A dual approach process model to developing work happiness’, International Journal of Wellbeing, vol.6, no.2, 2016, pp. 30-56.
Wright, T. A., Encouraging employee happiness, Oxford handbook of happiness, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.
- ‘Government’s mission is to create conditions conducive for happiness of individuals, families and employees, and to promote positivity: Mohammed bin Rashid’, UAE Cabinet 2016, para. 6. Web.
- Ibrahim, M., & Al Falasi, S. ‘Employee loyalty and engagement in UAE public sector’, Employee Relations, vol.36, no.5, 2014, pp. 562-582.
- Fisher, C. D. ‘Happiness at work’. International journal of management reviews, 2010.
- Davis, S. ‘Increasing happiness in the workplace’. The Kabod, 2017.
- Williams, P., Kern, M. L., & Waters, L. ‘Inside-Out-Outside-In: A dual approach process model to developing work happiness’, International Journal of Wellbeing, vol.6, no.2, 2016, pp. 30-56.
- Golden, L., Henly, J., & Lambert, S. ‘Work schedule flexibility: A contributor to employee happiness?’, Journal of Social Research and Policy, 2014.
- Wright, T. A., Encouraging employee happiness, Oxford handbook of happiness, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.
- Lambert, L., & Pasha-Zaidi, N, Made in the UAE: An indigenous positive psychology for the United Arab Emirates, Palgrave Macmillan US, New York, 2015.