Dubai HR Summit experts to call for more sophisticated HR

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 26 Oct 2016

Talent development, retention and engagement will be high on the agenda at next month’s event

HR experts at next month’s Dubai HR Summit and Expo will call on GCC organisations to develop more sophisticated principles of people management.
Talent development, employee engagement and retention, rewards and workforce planning are no longer just HR practices but business mandates – and HR is their custodian, say the event’s organisers, Informa.
“To a large extent, employee engagement is a new priority in the GCC,” said Khalid Youssef, senior consultant at Aon Hewitt Middle East. “The recent economic volatility in the region has meant that organisations are looking for more creative ways to increase efficiency rather than straightforward cost-cutting through downsizing. Leaders now understand that having a more productive and engaged workforce creates a competitive advantage.
“According to our Best Employers 2016 study, there is a strong relationship between employee engagement and sales growth, operating margin, and Total Shareholder Return seen at Best Employers organisations. This is all pushing employee engagement up the priority list for CEOs and CHROs.”
Aon Hewitt’s research backs up the message being delivered at the HR Summit; not only are more organisations in the region starting to measure their employee engagement levels, but the results of these measurements are now high on the agenda of discussion topics during leaders’ review meetings.
“Also, more and more organisations are taking the action-planning process more seriously,” added Youssef. “The results are being communicated more effectively across the organisation, forcing leaders and managers to take action. We are also observing that some organisations are incorporating the improvement of employee engagement scores as KPIs for their leaders and managers.”
Middle East business intelligence provider MEED recently released a survey that showed 48 per cent of respondents believed that corporate wellness programmes had improved employee engagement in their workplace. Meanwhile, research from international HR consultancy Mercer has found that competitive pay, benefits and career progression are key factors in engaging UAE national at work.
John Curtis-Oliver, partner at Boyden, said here are many factors to consider when trying engage employees: “One challenge for any organisation is to look honestly at how far advanced it is in terms of its employee engagement. Employers should attempt to perform an ‘audit’ to understand where the real priorities are. They must master the basics before moving onto to the more advanced programmes.
“For example, if staff are paid below the market average and do not have good quality medical insurance, they will react with cynicism and even anger if presented with a well-meaning employee engagement initiative. Assuming the fundamental needs of the staff member are handled, the next priority is job satisfaction.”
He added: “Professional people simply want to leave work at the end of the day knowing that they did something meaningful. To ensure this, they need to be properly empowered. Staff who are genuinely empowered and engaged in meaningful work simply do not have time to worry about being engaged. Keeping people busy can be the most effective means of increasing employee engagement.”
The Dubai HR Summit and Expo takes place from 14 to 16 November at Dubai International Exhibition and Conference Centre, and will focus on ‘The New Rules of Engagement in a New Age of HR’.