Happiness is a relative term as one person’s definition of happiness might not match another’s.
There are many facets of life which contribute towards happiness – such as health, career success, personal relationships, and so forth. A recent list released by the World Happiness Report uncovers the top happiest countries in the world based on several factors, including life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, and the level of social support.
Our main focus, however, will be happiness in relation to professional prosperity and career success. A holistically satisfying vocation is undeniably a major part of living a wholesome life. And since people are at work for the most part of the day, the work environment, career growth opportunities, colleagues and so forth, make a huge difference in their day-to-day life.
Bayt.com studies have revealed over and over again that, overall, countries in the Gulf region are happier than others. According to our data and reports, the top three happiest countries to work in the GCC are also the top three happiest countries to work in the Middle East region: the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Happiness and employment opportunities are directly related, especially in the Middle East which is plagued by unemployment, notably youth unemployment.
However, major events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 are expected to widen the job market in the next few years.
In fact, the February 2015 Job Index survey by Bayt.com has indicated that 72 per cent of professionals in the UAE feel that their country of residence has an attractive job market, followed by 58 per cent of respondents in Saudi Arabia and 48 per cent in Qatar.
But is the availability of jobs the only contributor towards happiness? As a matter of fact, no. Job satisfaction also matters.
The most important factor related to job satisfaction in the MENA region is ‘learning and personal growth’, according to 85 per cent of respondents in the Bayt.com Job Satisfaction in the MENA survey, April 2015. This is followed by ‘a sense of achievement’ and ‘pay’. Other important factors are ‘team spirit’, ‘doing what I love’, and ‘exercising my creativity’.
In general, there are certain factors which contribute towards being happy at work.
How the office is designed, for starters, can be very important. Having an open office space, as opposed to a closed one, promotes transparency and freedom in communication. Certain amenities, such as an office pantry or areas with bean-bags and books to read, can help employees relax.
Overall, in order for an employee to be happy they need to be part of a greater purpose, feel proud to work for their company, and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Keeping this in mind, 46 per cent of individuals in Saudi Arabia enjoy their work, followed by 45 per cent in the UAE and 45 per cent in Qatar, according to the same report.
In Saudi Arabia, 46 per cent of professionals feel proud to work for their company, while 35 per cent feel that employee morale is generally high. In the UAE, 33 per cent of professionals like the way things are done in their company and 39 per cent feel that the company environment is a happy one. In Qatar, 46 per cent of professionals have a good work-life balance. All these factors create cheerful employees, and in turn, happy places to work.
Not leaving out the basic need for livelihood, having a good salary also plays a major role in workplace gratification. Overall, professionals in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar find the pay they are given to be fair. At the same time, having a low base salary is one of the main reasons for professionals to quit their jobs across the MENA.
Finally, benefits received in these three countries are better in comparison to other MENA countries. On an average, 77 per cent of respondents in Saudi Arabia have medical insurance for themselves; 67 per cent have holiday pay; and almost one out of two receive a sick pay.
When it comes to the economic situation of the country and individuals, availability of jobs, and job satisfaction, the perception is positive in the GCC, particularly in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
While there is high consumer confidence in these countries, we still advise professionals to focus on savings by cutting down on unnecessary expenditure. The time is also ripe for employers to deploy their best strategies and resources to make the most out of a flourishing economy and a positive job market.