Eight trends that will shape the Gulf job market in 2016

Author: Criselda Diala-McBride | Date: 22 Dec 2015

Talent retention will be crucial, say experts from Towers Watson and Deloitte

Talent retention will be a major concern among organisations in the Gulf region in 2016, say HR experts, as global and regional economic conditions become increasingly volatile. The downturn in oil prices is forcing organisations to maximise workplace efficiency and productivity and explore employee retention strategies, while on a tight budget.
Elie Georgiou-Botaris, Middle East practice leader, talent management and organisational alignment at Towers Watson Middle East, and Ghassan Turqieh, consulting partner at Deloitte Middle East, offer their perspectives on the trends that will influence the GCC region’s hiring market next year.
1. Performance management as a business tool
Employee engagement and performance management will play a crucial role in how the HR sector will evolve in the coming year, predicts Georgiou-Botaris, as organisations become more conscious of the importance of measuring the effectiveness and impact of HR on the wider organisation, and return on investment (ROI).
“Companies are starting to rethink the purpose and approach of performance management as a business tool rather than [an] HR tool,” he says. “Performance management can benefit the organisation by more than just evaluating and rating people’s performance for the purpose of rewarding them accordingly.”
2. Effective benefits strategies
“With higher employee attrition rates in the GCC region, employers are now realising that an effective benefit strategy must be aligned to their objectives, be flexible enough to suit diverse employee needs, and be administered and communicated in a way that employees find simple and engaging,” says Georgiou-Botaris.
Although this won’t be easy, in 2016 he expects more employers to take steps in the right direction by designing innovative and more flexible benefit packages, and using them to help inform business strategy. This will indirectly improve talent retention and reduce employee attrition.
3. Workforce segmentation
Workforce segmentation will drive investment decisions of senior management in 2016, predicts Georgiou-Botaris, with different roles contributing to the organisation in different ways. “Employees who are pivotal to the organisation can be treated differently to yield much higher ROI than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ development investment or reward approach.”
4. Developing internal talent and leadership
There is a pressing need to address internal talent development to make corporate growth sustainable, says Turqieh , with learning and development remaining one of the most important talent-related challenge faced by Gulf organisations.
“Leadership has been a challenge that organisations and HR leaders have been facing for several years,” he says. “Despite its importance, programmes are not yet or not fully in place to develop leaders internally. Leaders need to be better equipped to engage employees, encourage innovation, as well as set and deliver on organisational objectives.”
5. Reinventing HR
Turqieh also believes GCC organisations need to reinvent their HR functions by revisiting HR practitioners’ competencies, which could boost innovation and increase the value of an organisation.
Georgiou-Botaris agrees, saying that many organisations will be redesigning their internal structures as they adjust their business strategies to cope with slower regional and global growth. This will allow them to focus on new functional mandates, clarification of role accountabilities, fewer spans of control and optimising headcount by retaining highly skilled staff.
6. Organisational culture and employee engagement
“Culture and engagement – which are top in the global market – are also of paramount importance in the GCC,” says Turqieh. “Yet, organisations lack the readiness to meet this challenge. Nurturing a strong culture in the workplace would lead to higher levels of motivation, engagement and retention of talent, and therefore to more sustainable growth.”
7. More powerful analytics
The use of big data tools from external vendors will be more prevalent, predicts Turqieh, and will help organisations identity and source quality candidates worldwide. “They can apply analytics to identify the organisation’s top sources of talent, understand effective interviewing techniques and improve the quality and efficiency of hiring.”
8. Treat recruitment like marketing
Communicating the employer’s brand to candidates is as important as conveying the corporate message to customers, says Turqieh, who recommends the HR department partner with the corporate marketing team to develop a joint employer brand strategy. This will help organisations develop better relationships with candidates and cultivate prospects – turning them from passive to active candidates.