Wellbeing & Happiness – More than just a state of mind

Defining Well-being and Happiness

”Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterised by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” [1]

The definitions of happiness and well-being overlap – the qualities of one are often used to define the other. For instance, Britannica defines happiness as a state of emotional well-being experienced by an individual. It can refer to a subjective experience of emotion in a specific period of time, or an overall feeling of positivity regarding one’s overall life. Well-being is defined as “…the state of being happy, healthy, or successful”. [2]

Research into happiness and well-being has been going on for decades as the links between happiness and productivity have become more apparent. Happiness economics has emerged as a sub-field of economics, focusing on the quantitative and qualitative investigation of how happiness and well-being measures can impact business profitability, and even whole economies.

Happiness and well-being are particularly important in the workplace. Significant research has demonstrated the link between happy employees and improved productivity. Workplace wellbeing refers to all the different parts of work – from the physical environment to employees’ feelings and attitudes. The happiness and wellbeing of employees can determine an organization’s long-term performance. [3]

Happiness in the workplace results improvements in:

  • Productivity – +12% more productivity
  • Accuracy – +19%
  • Satisfaction – +25% [4]

Read about How Office Design Solutions Can Increase Employees’ Happiness

Workplace Wellbeing and Happiness in the UAE

The UAE is one of the most dynamic countries in the world – fast-growing and constantly modernising. The National Program for Happiness & Wellbeing is a unique government initiative to “…promote an integrated concept of wellbeing. As part of its efforts to improve the health and well -being of all residents in the country, the program has also worked on improving employee working conditions and wellness. [5]

The new labour law that came into effect on 2nd February 2022 makes employers even more responsible for improving the circumstances of employees, ensuring their health and wellbeing. Multiple initiatives focusing on employee conditions have resulted in the UAE being ranked in top 3 global work markets in terms of well-being according to 2021 data. [6]

The UAE National Program for Health & Wellbeing has developed a framework to help employers create a positive work culture that improves the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Image Source: Workfam

The framework consists of four pillars:

  1. Instilling Purpose – ensuring that the organisation has a defined vision and values communicated to employees so that everyone is aligned on shared objectives
  2. Promoting Health – taking care of mind and body and creating a culture where everyone can grow intellectually, physically and emotionally
  3. Building Relationships – fostering team spirit and allowing people to make connections and embrace diversity and inclusion
  4. Fulfilling Potential – empowering employees to develop a career path, build skills, receive regards and recognition for efforts.

People Development

Definition & Background

People development is a relatively new concept currently being referred to as a broad range of activities to increase employee engagement and expand training and development opportunities to respond and anticipate to a rapidly changing business environment.

Benefits & Importance

Research has shown that an important dimension in increasing employee happiness is by increasing development opportunities, feeding employee curiosity and providing more opportunities for learning. Happier employees are healthier, work more and make fewer errors. Employees that are more engaged and stimulated have greater loyalty to the organisation, are less likely to leave and more likely to make profitable contributions.

Benefits of people development include:

Attracting and retaining better employees

People development and training helps to attract and retain employees. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn. [7]

Europe, Middle East & Africa Leadership & Management Training Program infographic results

Creating strong shared work culture

Opportunities to learn and grow have emerged as one of the most important ingredients in producing a common work culture. Having a shared culture increases cooperation and collaboration and motivates employees to be more efficient and productive. [8]

Building management skills and leadership abilities for improved performance

‘Leadership and management training’ is the primary focus for organisations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa according to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report. [9] The same report highlights that 77% of employers are focused on improving employee skills, with reskilling taking up 44% and digital upskilling taking up 33% of attention.

Supporting Personal and Professional Development at Work

As noted above one of the critical dimensions in improving employee happiness and wellbeing is giving employees the ability to improve their circumstances through availing opportunities for training and development. Assisting employees in achieving their full potential is a great way to boost their performance, while investing in human capital of the company – growing useful skills and capabilities.

Training opportunities in the workplace should be designed for flexibility –using hybrid learning approaches – including self-learning, face-to-face and online. Online training can be delivered in premises or remotely. Face-to-face learning in the right environment is key to enhancing employee collaboration and teamwork.

As a specialist commercial fit out contractor, we see more companies are requesting flexible spaces to facilitate employee training in new workplace fit outs.

People Development at Summertown

Improving workplace happiness and well-being is one of the three pillars of our “JOURNEY2030 Sustainability Goals” and we are committed supporters of the UAE National Program for Health and Well-being.

One way to demonstrate our commitment to improving our employees’ happiness is by expanding training and development opportunities. These are a core element of Summertown’s business and sustainability strategies. Employee training and development is based on a best practices approach – applying the 70-20-10 methodology to create both on and off the job learning and development opportunities. Quality, tailored training and development is a vital element in generating workplace happiness as it is directly linked to employee engagement and work/life satisfaction. Highlights of our many people development strategy and on-going initiatives include:

Employee Surveys

Our employee engagement survey is conducted annually. The results are used to determine the specific development areas needed by our employees. The goal is not only to discover the best initiatives to support our overall business goals – but to prepare our people plan across the entire employee life cycle. This covers attraction, recruitment, induction, development, reward and retention policies and processes.

Summertown Learning Pod

e-learning at Summertown

In June 2022, we launched the “Summertown Learning Pod”, using Percipio, the dedicated e-learning platform from Skillsoft to complement our face-to-face learning sessions. Percipio facilitates learning anywhere, anytime and on any device. Learning content is provided through online videos, books, summaries, audio books as well as hands-on labs. There are specific modules on employee health and well-being.

Summertown is launching a special series on ethics, values and behaviour training for our staff. These modules will support us in improving our working culture, driving positive behaviours and giving us the tools to link results to our performance and recognition systems.

Personal Development Plans (PDPs)

PDPs are a key element of career development for our employees, enables self-identification of skills and training for current job and future aspiration roles. We conducted PDP development training last year for all our employees and will refresh this sessions again in the coming quarter.

Assessing future skills

It is key to ensuring our employees and our business are ahead of the curve; Some of the future skills we are focusing on are Great Teamwork and Collaboration Skills, the Ability to be Flexible and Adapt, Being Curious and Willing to Continuously Learn, Emotional Intelligence and a wide set of technical digital skills.

Upskilling our managers

We are focusing on the training and development of all our managers in the coming year, so that they can acquire and build the necessary skills and knowledge to be the best people managers. In turn, helping their own teams to grow and develop. We are undertaking both formal face-to-face training programs, self-learning and improvement initiatives and finally 360-degree feedback.

Moving Forward

Summertown Interiors practices what we preach, and have an annual employee health and wellbeing programme and people development roadmap.

We also provide sustainable interior solutions that can help facilitate employee health and wellbeing and development. Get in touch today to discuss how we can use our expertise to help you create spaces that promote employee engagement, encourage people development, and improve employee happiness and well-being.


[1] https://ijip.in/articles/happiness-and-wellbeing/

[2] https://www.britannica.com

[3] https://www.ilo.org/safework/areasofwork/workplace-health-promotion-and-well-being/WCMS_118396/lang–en/index.htm

[4] https://www.mof.gov.ae/en/Pages/happiness.aspx

[5] https://www.arabianbusiness.com/politics-economics/new-uae-labour-law-enters-into-effect

[6] https://www.cigna-me.com/en/knowledge/uae-%20wellbeing-study-2021

[7] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/27/94percent-of-employees-would-stay-at-a-company-for-this-one-reason.html

[8] https://www.glintinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Glint-May-2021-Employee-Well-Being-Report.pdf

[9] https://learning.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/learning/en-us/pdfs/workplace-learning-report/LinkedIn-Learning_Workplace-Learning-Report-2022-EN.pdf