Wednesday 25, May 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: Today, over 100 business leaders gathered at Sofitel the Palm Dubai for the Human Capital Forum MENA, where they created actionable strategies to help individuals, organisations and governments tackle the region’s most pressing HR challenges.

Organised by business facilitation company Naseba, the forum also provided the ideal setting for attendees to debate the most urgent and divisive issues within HR – including the currently red-hot topic of employee engagement and happiness.

While some employers embrace the responsibility of keeping their staff satisfied, others insist that the emotional wellbeing of employees is a personal matter and not a professional one. Some HR analysts have even gone so far as to assert that it is “demeaning” to talk about making employees happy, and that it is “not a goal worthy of an organisation’s energy and brainpower”.

The debate over corporate culture and engagement continued throughout the afternoon. Michael Lahyani, CEO of, pushed back against the idea that employee happiness is a futile goal. “A happy employee is not an urban myth. Growing into an accomplished talent is one way of seeing happiness within a business. Our role is to provide people with the right environment to achieve “business happiness”.”

“Happiness is a choice each individual makes,” responded Talat Sheerazi, Vice President of Human Capital at Gulf Capital. “However, organisations can contribute to short-term happiness and satisfaction levels among staff by creating policies and fun, engaging activities. They can contribute to long term happiness levels by developing people and giving them opportunities to do their best work in a supportive culture.”

Passionpreneur Moustafa Hamwi echoed the notion that happiness is a personal responsibility, but also a professional concern. “Our own passion and happiness is our responsibility, and equally for each company’s benefit they need to play the role of the facilitator of passion at work so they create a culture that serves their bigger agenda by having engaged employees,” he said.

Fatma Hussain, Chief Human Capital Officer at TECOM Group, said “In general, the focus of employers is not ‘How do we make our employees happy?’ but ‘How do we, as organisations and leaders, ensure that we enable the right ecosystem, empowerment and support to have happy employees?’” She highlighted that this focus directly affects the bottom line, saying “Organisations with happy and engaged employees are known to have high financial performance.”

Attendees at the forum also discussed ever-evolving role of HR and the impact of the oil crisis on the HR function over the course of a packed first day, which included interactive panels and expert-led keynote sessions. The day’s highlights included a discussion of how emotional intelligence can enable 3-digit growth, led by Taj El Khayat, Regional Vice President for Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Riverbed Technology.

“The Human Capital Forum allows for open discussion and provides HR specialists with the knowledge, connections and solutions needed to enact real change in our HR practices,” commented Yvonne Agyei, VP of International People Operations at Google. “We’re tossing out every outdated convention and forging a new path to making the most of our people. It’s an exciting process to be a part of.”

Speakers at the forum also included Carl Rhodes, CEO at the Human Capital Institute, TECOM Group’s Chief Human Capital Officer Fatma Hussain, Joe Chalouhi, Chief HR Officer at GE, and leaders from major international organisations such as Mobily, Mubadala and Roche Diagnostics.