When it comes to the business of happiness, Alexander Kjerulf is an international authority.
He is the founder of Woohoo Inc, a Denmark-based firm which advises leading multinational companies on happiness at work, has written a series of books on the topic and given keynote speeches around the world.
He said he is aware of the “huge focus” on workplace happiness across the Middle East and particularly in Dubai, which he credited to its bid to become the ‘happiest city on Earth’, where it is high on the government agenda, alongside the emirate’s drive to attract top talent.
Vijay Gandhi, a Dubai-based director for the Korn Ferry Products Group, which specialises in talent management and human resources, said there had been a rise in the number of companies in the UAE turning to "happiness officers" to bolster morale and drive up productivity.
Mr Kjerulf said he was not at all surprised to see a rising trend of happiness officers being appointed in the country.
“There has never been a stronger interest in happiness at work in Dubai and all over the world,” he said.
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“I think it's incredibly positive to see that so many leaders and organisations are taking happiness seriously and making it a strategic priority.”
However, he warned that a continued culture of long working hours in the UAE remained a threat to happiness and efficiency. While some countries are debating four-day weeks, many UAE workers only get one day off every seven days, while others can even expect none at all.
“Excessive hours is a huge risk to both happiness and productivity at work.
“And overwork can kill you. One study found that those working a 55-hour week face 33 per cent increased risk of stroke than those working a 35-to-40-hour week.
“And to make matters worse, all those extra hours don’t even mean you get more work done. One study from Harvard Business Review concluded that overwork doesn’t seem to result in more output."
He said that the best happiness officers are both “inspirational and practical” and who “genuinely care” about the welfare of workers.
“Happy companies make more money. Happy employees are not simply in a better mood, they also do a much better job. Studies from psychology and neurology have shown that people who experience positive emotions experience a number of benefits at work.”