GNcareers, from Gulf News

UAE companies share best practices that engage employees

UAE companies share best practices that engage employeesImage Credit: Supplied

Matt Jennison still remembers the warm reception he received from his employer in Dubai after he got hired three years ago.

Prior to his arrival on day one, his wife got a pleasant surprise: a bunch of flowers and chocolates delivered to their door, with a note from Jennison's new colleagues thanking her for letting the company ''borrow'' her husband.

''I was blown away by the gesture, and my son loved the chocolates,'' Jennison recalls.

The warm welcome didn't stop there. When he got to the office, Jennison was greeted by a welcome card, signed by the whole company, and a rousing cheer from the entire team.

''In the past, I had been used to celebrations and cakes as I left my previous jobs – [my new company] flipped this around, celebrating my arrival, and this is a habit that has continued as we've grown in the last three years,'' Jennison, who works for biz-group, an SME in Dubai, says.

Jennison is not the only one who got a warm welcome from the company.

Biz-group always makes sure that new joiners feel extra special on their first day by doing warm gestures like adorning the employee's desk with balloons and promotional gifts, and preparing a handwritten welcome card with a personalised message from everyone in the team. The company also makes it a point to deliver a gift or goody bag to the employee's family home.

Another biz-group practice that Jennison is proud of is the team's daily ten-minute huddle that starts at 9am, which seeks to energise the team.

''Every morning, our entire team gathers in reception and each person shares their primary focus for the day ahead. We also run through important KPIs (key performance indicators) in the organisation, and bizzers are given the opportunity to share any good news [or] areas where they are stuck in,'' Jennison says.

Biz-group also distributes ''shout out cards'' where employees can write down a personalised note to recognise a colleague's work or achievement on a weekly basis. The messages are read aloud every Sunday during the morning huddle.

Biz-group's office culture has recently won the commendation of experts in workplace practices, ranking first in the Great Place To Work Institute's Most Distinguished SMEs to Work for in the UAE this year.

The institute rated the company highly for its ''people-centred'' practices. ''Biz-group's trust level is extraordinarily high. This is a reflection of its sound and people-centred practices. [The company] scores high in all practice areas but it excels in hiring, inspiring, welcoming and thanking.''

HR experts say that by focusing on their employees, companies in the UAE can save on the high costs of recruiting talent. Employee turnover rates tend to be high in organisations that don't invest time and money to improve employee engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

''When organisations that do not invest time and money to actively engage their employees will have to invest more time and money on continued restructuring, recruiting and re-training staff,'' Annalinde Nickisch, an HR consultant at The Thought Factory, tells Gulf News.

''When accumulating the cost of recruiting an employee, [for example] placement fees, visa costs, medical insurance and, most importantly, business opportunities lost while a new employee is still in training, recruiting the right staff is an expensive undertaking for any organization,'' Nickisch says.

''Actively engaging employees through team building, rewards or incentives does not only increase the loyalty of an employee, it is the commercially sensible thing to do. Organisations that keep a high satisfaction level commonly have a lower employee attrition rate, thus, spend less on re-hiring and re-training new employees.''

At MasterCard Middle East and Africa, great performance and achievements of employees don't go unnoticed. The company has implemented a ''Heart'' award programme that allows any employees to nominate another colleague at any time to receive an award for having demonstrated the company's corporate values.

Winners of the Heart programme are recognized every week and given a certificate and a cash reward of up to $500. Those who are impressed by their colleague's work can simply go to a dedicated microsite to submit their nomination.

''We have kept the process fast and simple to encourage participation. By allowing employees to nominate their peers, we ensure that no-one's efforts go unnonticed,'' says Scott Tierney, senior vice president of human resources at MasterCard Middle East and Africa.

MasterCard has also been recently named one of the ''Top 15 Companies to Work For in the UAE.'' The company also recognises their best performers during the annual President Awards for Middle East and Africa. The annual recognition ceremony was first introduced in 2013 and the winners are chosen from the nominations submitted by the staff.

''We also have awards for our sales team, which recognizes employees for achieving significant business successes. The winners are announced at MasterCard's annual global Sales conference,'' adds Tierney.

The company is not just focused on recognising the best performers. It helps other employees, especially women, grow in their chosen career through the dedicated Women's Leadership Network (WLN).

''We want to be viewed as a fantastic place for women to work,'' said Tierney. The network holds a number of activities, including seminars, networking events and volunteering activities to empower women and help them advance to more senior positions.

''Given that MasterCard is a global company, the WLN has also recently taken an initiative to have the female employees in Dubai share their positive experiences as expatriates in order to encourage talented and highly skilled women abroad to make the move to the UAE,'' says Tierney.

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Source: Cleofe Maceda, Senior Web Reporter,