Working better: How the Kingdom’s ‘ambassador of happiness’ is putting joy into people’s jobs
If happiness at work is one of the keys to success in life, then businesswoman Sultana Al-Amri is determined to make everyone a winner.
In the two years since becoming the first Saudi woman to be honored with the title “Ambassador of Happiness” by the World Federation of United Nations Associations, Al-Amri has been dedicated to ensuring the company she works for in Jeddah is a joyful one.
“I am honored to be appointed to this important role,” she said. “I believe that every workplace, whether it is a government entity or a private company, should have a happiness ambassador to promote the culture of happiness, positivity and cooperation among employees so that they can collectively achieve their goals.
“It is important to remember that personal success translates into organizational success and that in turn drives progress toward a better future.”
In response to the frequent questions she gets about her role, Al-Amri said: “Allah has honored me with the responsibility of spreading this message, so everyone has accepted the idea of the field of happiness.”
When it comes to creating a happy workplace, cooperation and a sense of involvement are key, she said.
“Employee satisfaction is the term used to describe whether employees are happy and satisfied, and it’s measured by motivation, goal achievement, morale and workplace positivity. Involving employees in the work environment improvement plan based on survey results creates an environment of shared responsibility for workplace culture and improvements,” she said.
“Employers should avoid leading employees to believe that satisfaction at work is the employer’s responsibility. Employee satisfaction is a shared responsibility. So, through periodic questionnaires, we know several things and develop a plan to work on the desires and needs of employees.”
Al-Amri said she fully supported the objectives of the Kingdom’s “Quality of Life Program for Happiness and Positivity” and was developing a series of initiatives to increase employee engagement.
Fostering employee happiness was rapidly moving up the HR agenda in companies of all shapes and sizes across Saudi Arabia, she added.
“The department of happiness has recently become widespread in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and focuses the attention on personal relationships.
“It implements programs to take care of the happiness of employees from the moment they enter the facility until they leave it, and this is done through a number of programs where all their needs are considered within the work environment, leading to loyalty in the workplace and creating a positive and cooperative work environment among employees.”
Al-Amri was recognized by the WFUNA in 2020 for her efforts both in the workplace and the wider community to raise the happiness index in the Kingdom.
After trademarking her title she has become a popular guest on media programs throughout Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.
“It is an honor for me to hold this title and also carry with it the responsibility of spreading this culture in a correct way that adds to society and the country,” she said.
A study by the Social Market Foundation showed that happy employees were up to 20 percent more productive than unhappy ones.
“Definitely, happiness leads to higher retention rates,” Al-Amri said. “Happy employees tend to stay at their job four times longer than those who are not happy at work. Happiness directly affects our stress levels and stress directly affects productivity. Eliminating stress through a happy workplace leads to more productive employees.”