Efficiency is a happiness factor

The timely delivery of government services will have a flow-on effect in the community

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid made surprise visits to several Government departments. Dubai Media Office
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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's spot check at several government offices in Dubai on Sunday, including the Land Department and Department of Economic Development, generated a lot of attention. Many social-­media users shared the 14-second video in which he was seen walking through an empty office, and made comments praising his dedication to improving government services.

The overwhelming reaction was a show of support and admiration for the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai because he was seen to be addressing public frustration over the work ethic of some senior civil servants and government departments.

First of all, we need to keep in mind that being absent from the workplace doesn’t necessary mean a lack of productivity. Some important work, including meetings, can be done outside the office. However, the perception of the public matters in this case because it affects our overall happiness and satisfaction. This, in turn, demands some changes in workplace culture – and that can only happen from the top down because those in senior positions set the example that their staff follow.

As Mona Al Marri, director general of the Dubai Media Office, said, Sheikh Mohammed intended to send a message to all senior officials that it is important for them to oversee the workflow and ensure the timely delivery of public services. For the public, efficiency is a sign that the government is doing what it can to boost the level of happiness across the community.

There is a common perception that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Private companies are perceived as being more dynamic than government departments, and that should change. The message sent by Sheikh Mohammed – and the example he and the UAE’s other senior leaders set on a daily basis – is important. If government services are seen to be delivered in a timely manner, that should inspire more dedication and discipline across the board, and help the country achieve its aim of raising the happiness index.