GNcareers, from Gulf News

There are no quick fixes for Emiratisation targets

There are no quick fixes for Emiratisation targetsImage Credit: Zarina Fernandes,

Companies in the UAE continue to launch countless Emiratization drives in their commitment to accomplish the Government's vision to develop, empower and nurture Emiratis in both the public and private sector.

However, in the competition to attract and retain local talent, many organisations make costly — and unfruitful — investments engaging in a war for talent without a strategic and systematic approach. For example, many offer very high pay for local national candidates in order to attract them, yet our research suggests that as little as 41 per cent of nationals feel that they receive adequate coaching and mentoring at work, suggesting that organisations are failing to follow up with the necessary development and support when they join.

Some other main pitfalls we observe include adopting an Emiratization target without reference to the labour market or a good definition of the organisation's workforce requirements; recruiting without giving due consideration to attitude and aptitude; and failing to prepare managers to deal effectively with a more diverse workforce.

Understandably, the disappointment of waving goodbye to their local national employees in spite of their efforts has left many organisations wondering whether it is an investment worth making. So what can they do to invest effectively in this special market for talent?

Before starting recruitment, set the right targets

Emiratization targets need to be fine-tuned to reflect the availability of candidates with the necessary skills. There are two key actions to take before plunging into recruitment campaigns: Firstly, think carefully about the skills that the organisation needs and the key positions to be held by local nationals.

Secondly, conduct a labour market review to determine the availability of these skills and then decide which roles should be filled through external recruitment and which should be filled through internal promotions.

Assess and develop the employer brand

With so many organisations seeking capable local nationals, employers should ensure that their brand offers a unique proposition to the discerning jobseeker. Organisations need to understand their current reputation in the talent market.

Current employees can provide a reasonable reflection of the brand, with our research indicating that as many as 68 per cent of Emiratis are proud to be part of their current organisation.

However, outsiders from the target group (e.g., the local market) are likely to be the best informants, so we recommend investing time and effort to get their robust feedback. It is also important to remember that crafting a credible and attractive employer brand is not a one-off activity.

The needs of the employees and the organisation reputation in the market shift and develop over time, so there is a need for this to be monitored and refined to remain relevant and attractive.

Use the right channels to attract local nationals

There is a dizzying array of channels to use for recruitment campaigns, but many organisations have never stopped to evaluate their effectiveness. Preventing unnecessary attrition also starts at the recruitment stage. In their eagerness to get local nationals on-board, organisations may focus too much on the candidates' qualifications and experience, and miss out on those who have the right attitude and aptitude who can be trained and developed to perform a good job.

Create a welcoming environment that supports achievement

Once the employment contract is signed, the focus shifts to ensuring that a new employee performs well and is satisfied enough in the organisation to stay for a good while. One area of concern is the extent of support that managers provide to their employees, as our research suggests that just 43 per cent of Nationals feel that their current work environment helps them improve their performance.

Providing support to employees goes beyond conventional learning and development programmes. Effective organisations put in place more extensive coaching and mentoring schemes to drive performance, provide career growth and increase retention.

There are no 'quick' solutions to the challenge of Emiratization. If the organisation is serious about wise investments to attract and retain nationals, Leadership needs to be fully committed to the journey, and the organisation needs a systematic and targeted approach to address all aspects of the employment life cycle to make it work for all employees.

Did you know that Dubai Parks and Resorts are to create 1,000 jobs for Emiratis

Source: Dr. Markus Wiesner, Special to

The writer is CEO of Aon Hewitt Middle East