The Wellbeing Academy held a virtual session to explore the role of government excellence in promoting the community’s wellbeing, and highlight the experience of the UAE’s Government Excellence System in integrating the concepts of wellbeing within its pillars to enhance the UAE’s global competitiveness.
Attended by Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, the session was presented by Professor Muhammad Zairi, Government Excellence Advisor for Abu Dhabi Government Excellence Program and Dubai Government Excellence Program and Head of the Judging Committee at Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Program, and moderated by Ammar Almaeeni, Wellbeing Academy Director.
This session, attended by 700 government officials and employees from various federal and local government entities, is the second in a series of sessions held by the Wellbeing Academy, recently launched by the National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing.
The Wellbeing Academy aims to instill a mindset of wellbeing and its practices in all areas of government work; build the capabilities of government employees; and train them on integrating the principles of wellbeing into government programs, initiatives, policies and services, which will improve performance and promote the wellbeing of the UAE community.
Professor Zairi stated that the UAE government, guided and supported by the UAE’s wise leadership, has managed the COVID-19 crisis efficiently and competently and has shown itself as a global role model. He also highlighted the UAE’s sound decisions and its commitment to guarantee the health, safety and wellbeing of all community members.
Professor Zairi stated that the UAE has pioneered in adopting excellence as a political and strategic choice and has been developing the concept of excellence for over 25 years. The UAE’s efforts in instilling the principles of government excellence elevated the community’s sense of security and safety during the COVID-19 crisis. He highlighted the leadership’s continuous pursuit to provide individuals’ basic needs; specifically safety, security, medication and food; its keenness to maintain direct contact with the community; and its decisions that helped promoting people’s wellbeing through maintaining continuity of government operations, the adoption of distant learning, and remote work systems.
Zairi added that governments around the world have adopted various approaches of excellence, mostly focusing on economy, industry and technology as in Japan, United States and Singapore, or focusing on literacy as in India, while the UAE adopted wellbeing and excellence as a government system and a lifestyle.
Wellbeing as the ultimate goal in Government
Professor Zairi said that wellbeing is linked to all stages of human life and that there is a shared responsibility of all entities to achieve the ultimate goal of improving people's lives. He marked the National Wellbeing Strategy 2031, launched by the UAE government, as a milestone in its excellence journey.
Zairi noted that the model of the UAE’s government excellence system highlights wellbeing as a center for all the system’s pillars, goals and standards, where 75% of the system focuses on achieving the National Strategy for Wellbeing. The system aims to translate the leadership’s ambitious vision through promoting wellbeing, embracing change, enhancing trust and developing outcome-centered integrated frameworks.
The achievement of the government excellence vision was summarized in four primary criteria: The enhancement of wellbeing, future preparedness, strategic direction and main responsibilities. Zairi indicated that the relationship between wellbeing and the criteria for vision achievement resides in adopting a work method that focuses on enhancing people’s wellbeing, developing flexible strategies, utilizing wellbeing in shaping the future and developing initiatives that focus on achieving distinct value and contribute to improving the competitiveness and leadership of the country, in addition to improving the community’s wellbeing.
Zairi added that the pillar distinct value in the Government Excellence System includes wellbeing enhancement related standards by means of measuring entities’ success in developing proactive, human-centered services that focus on value and smart empowerment through improving future opportunities and enabling professional talents.
The enablement pillar’s standards, according to Zairi, include resources, capabilities, data and management of knowledge, government communication, partnership and integration, and they are closely linked to the comprehensive concept of holistic wellbeing by means of focusing on tools and means that enhance human-centered excellence.
Zairi noted that traditional excellence is routinely devoid of creativity, innovation and continuous development. This is far from the UAE’s Government Excellence System, which is resilient, flexible and capable of improvement.
While innovation nurtures thought by means of developing capabilities and strategic direction, leadership entails the availability of unique capabilities that provide entities with value, which is directly linked to serving the achievement of goals, visions and aspirations. Zairi highlighted the necessity for embracing a wellbeing mindset while shaping the future of the coming generations.
Government Integration to Achieve Excellence
In response to a question from one of the attendees, Zairi explained the means by which integration and harmony between various entities are achieved. He noted that human beings are planners by nature. They accommodate changes in their journey, and therefore, entities must set plans for all stages and cover all societal needs; which requires the existence of a highly participatory and complementary relationship. Zairi stressed that governments can only achieve success through excellence, in addition to focusing on a model that adopts an integrated and harmonious partnership between entities for the purpose of achieving the ultimate goal of improving the society’s wellbeing.
In regards to the model for shaping a future that suits the requirements of government work in the post-COVID-19 stage, Zairi stressed that the inclusion of wellbeing in future shaping processes will constitute a quantum leap in enhancing future readiness and flexibility in terms of facing various conditions and developing capabilities to achieve leadership.
Ammar Almaeeni: government excellence and promoting wellbeing are closely related
Ammar Almaeeni, Wellbeing Academy Director, stressed that the directives of the UAE’s leadership, the government’s adoption of an integrated vision for the enhancement of wellbeing, and the directions of the National Wellbeing Strategy 2031 are collectively focused on the importance of including the principles and concepts of wellbeing in various areas of government work, whereas they adopt excellence as a fundamental enabler for promoting wellbeing in the UAE.
Almaeeni stated that the Wellbeing Academy emphasized the relationship between excellence and wellbeing due to the close connection between the government's vision of achieving excellence and the leadership’s ultimate goal of enhancing the society’s wellbeing in the UAE. Almaeeni further explained that this relationship embodies the leadership’s directives and visions of ranking the UAE among the world’s top countries in the field of wellbeing.
Embracing a Sustainable Wellbeing Mindset
The Wellbeing Academy was launched as part of the government's efforts to implement the pillars of the National Wellbeing Strategy 2031, which was approved in a Cabinet meeting chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in June 2019.
The Academy is built on six pillars for integrating the concept of wellbeing into government work, which include: the concept of wellbeing in government work, public policies, government services, measuring the impact of sustainable wellbeing, institutional excellence in wellbeing and readiness for future variations in wellbeing.
The Academy's programs are designed in collaboration with top national and international experts and in partnership with prestigious global institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Columbia University, Harvard Business Review and “What Works” Foundation in the United Kingdom.
The Academy has recently held a virtual session titled "Wellbeing and the Role of Governments", which was attended by more than 1000 officials and employees from federal and local government entities. The session hosted Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, Director of the Network for Sustainable Development Solutions of the United Nations United and President of the UAE’s World Council for Happiness and Wellbeing, who highlighted the importance of wellbeing in government work and its impact on the community.