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Investing so your workforce thrives

Investing so your workforce thrives

Ben Bengougam explains how improving your team’s wellbeing can bring positive results

Businesses succeed when their workforce thrives, and in a competitive talent market, applicants are attracted to companies that value and actively enhance employee wellbeing and happiness.

On March 20 we marked the International Day of Happiness, which was established by the United Nations to recognise “the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth”. Here in the UAE, the government has sought to instil that sentiment not just for one day, but also all year round. In fact, in 2016, the UAE appointed the country’s first minister of state for happiness.

A number of UAE firms have already embarked on a series of employee-led happiness projects inspired by the Happiness Agenda and National Agenda to make the country among the top five happiest in the world. Under this mandate, the government stresses its commitment to make the overall community happy through its Happiness and Positivity Charter and the private sector is very much aligned with this.

In several companies in the UAE and the wider GCC region, successful businesses are placing employee happiness as a top priority, recognising that in the workplace, happiness translates to employee productivity, engagement, and retention; all of which are mutually dependent on one another and are fundamental pillars of an effective and advantageous corporate culture.

At Hilton, we firmly believe that employers need to take responsibility for team member wellbeing. As a business of people serving people, employee recognition, development opportunities and benefits are all fundamental to our success. As a company, we know that improving the wellbeing of our teams helps increase their passion at work, in turn driving a competitive business advantage.

Investing in wellbeing

Achieving this return takes significant planning, investment and innovation over a sustained period of time. It takes time to create a working culture where team members feel their wellbeing and performance is actively managed and supported. Companies need to embrace an approach that acknowledges the differing needs of their workforce and will work with them.

As an example, the most recent evolution of Hilton’s approach – [email protected] – does exactly this. This new framework is the result of a pioneering partnership with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, an innovative, research based start-up that offers sustainable, science-based education to enhance wellbeing and performance.

It is based on three key pillars – body, mind and spirit – and aims to evolve the way we work and lead in order to create space for what matters most: inspiration, creativity and meaningful connections.

Beginning with a self-assessment of how they are currently ‘thriving’, team members can utilise a multitude of tools and resources with tips and guidance on their own bespoke needs. Guides on meditation, time management, productivity and finding meaning in day-to-day activities are all available. When used effectively, these tools help team members feel more resilient, focussed and optimistic about their work. We are incorporating thrive training into all of our leadership development curriculums to help scale our efforts and drive change from the top.

Recognising achievement, rewarding commitment

Recognition matters, and for millennials in particular feedback via an annual review alone will no longer suffice. They need meaningful, timely and specific feedback. They need to know that their work is making a positive impact on the business and meeting an objective.

Managers, therefore, need the freedom to formally recognise team member contributions as they happen. This is why we have empowered managers to recognise the contributions of outstanding team members every day of the year.

Ultimately, if people feel their employer is helping them to protect and enhance their wellbeing, they will be strong and resilient, and in turn their business can thrive. Put simply, wellbeing is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a commercial imperative for today’s workforce.

Ben Bengougam is senior vice president of HR, EMEA, at Hilton


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