GNcareers, from Gulf News

Reviving UAE job market presents new challenges

Businesses to adopt a casual approach on retention is fraught with untold risksImage Credit: Supplied

It’s time to throw out the rule book on traditional retention strategy. With the UAE‘s annual GDP growth rate above 5 per cent and competitors hiring again, there’s never been a more important time to focus on engaging with your brightest employees.

Holding on to your best people and winning the loyalty of new employees is arguably more difficult than it used to be. Your team has possibly been staying put during the tough times and now that the job market is freeing up, many of the best people will be looking around for a new challenge.

It is this word, challenge, that needs to remain front of mind when addressing retention strategies. UAE managers now need to not only be preoccupied with growing their businesses, but also by their talented people who are going to deliver that growth.

Pay rises are, naturally, important. Incentives, bonuses and a good working environment are all factors.

Most recruitment consultants will tell you that one of the biggest motivations when making a career change is a thirst for greater responsibility and leadership, as well as the opportunity to acquire greater knowledge and expertise. More responsibility cannot simply be gifted to employees so, naturally, it needs to be earned — and learnt.

This means that HR, training and development teams need to focus on skills development and motivation.

Developing leadership skills is perhaps one of the most effective ways of building trust and motivating individuals. Being asked to mentor junior employees, oversee the delivery and quality of tasks and take part in business planning can all create a greater sense of inclusion, responsibility and development.

The best way to build the leaders for tomorrow is to start treating them as leaders today.

Employees today want a work experience, a place where great people come together, where transparent communication, policy and procedures rule, where leaders are as part of the team as the most recent recruit. It’s time to re-engage with what we know motivates employees — a sense of purpose, team, self and a sense of ‘tribe’.

This team ethos is very often what new graduates buy into — nobody joins a boring company and a dull team. New graduates select their employers because they see vision and they see a future for themselves. They see that this is a place where they will be nurtured.

Benefits from need to learn

Young people need to be nurtured and guided. This provides more senior employees with an opportunity to teach, guide, coach and lead their younger teams.

By recognising the need to learn and to teach, the workplace can become an environment where everybody benefits from the need to learn: teacher and student.

The time has come for our manager communities to step up and start to deliver real engagement, positive dialogue and openness with their employees. Gone are the days when the HR team is looked to for engagement and culture, it is time for managers to step up and own employee satisfaction.

Employees will want greater understanding, flexibility and role enrichment — HR professionals can help by providing real-time access to employee satisfaction data, not annual survey monsters, but byte-size chunks of data that continually checks and monitors the health of the organisation.

Great managers will crave this data, poor managers will find that there is no place to hide as results and HR metrics measure manager effectiveness like never before.

Sadly, that revolving door is unlikely to stop turning any time soon — because even the best people, even those who have been cared for, can decide it’s time for a change of scene — or a change of career.

All companies need to understand that the only contingency to losing talent is to look at the new generation. Talk more about how we can on-board and induct more efficiently, to ensure we don’t lose time getting people up to speed.

Managers need to plan for attrition and engage in open discussions with employees so that they have time to prepare for those eventual resignations.

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Source: Rory Hendrikz and Zoe Spicer, Special to Gulf News

Rory Hendrikz is the Director of Ashridge Business School, Middle East, and Zoe Spicer teaches a Strategic Human Resource Management programme at the school.