Q&A: Adrian Hallek-Jones: “The GCC’s global workforce is what attracts employers and employees”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 15 Jun 2016

Development training and talent management specialist on how to engage a transient workforce

Hallek JonesManaging and engaging any workforce can be a challenge, but the fact that many expats come to work in the GCC for only a short portion of their working lives can increase that challenge for HR departments. Adrian Hallek-Jones, regional HR director, SAMEA (South Asia, Middle East and Africa) at communications marketing firm Edelman, spoke to People Management about how to train employees whose plans are only to work in the Gulf for the short- to medium-term.

Is the GCC over-dependent on the expatriate workforce?
Many would argue that this used to be the case. However, while the region in general continues to attract an expat workforce, there is a significant trend of employers dissolving relocation packages because in-market skills have increased. This means HR departments can reallocate part of their talent engagement budgets to L&D, and is a sign that the dependence on expatriates is lessening. Also, the GCC’s global workforce is what makes the region most attractive for both employers (who benefit from leveraging diverse skillsets), and employees (who get the opportunity to advance and broaden their experience).

Is the transient working population of the GCC an issue that affects Edelman?
A transient workforce is a problem in our industry in general. Understandably, and not surprisingly, it can impact attrition rates. We have seen a decrease in this trend over the last few years. We invest time and resources to work with our employees, and offer them counsel on cultural and regional nuances to help them feel more comfortable in the region. We also build regional experiences into our induction and training programmes.

Has Edelman’s PR and communications knowledge helped you to develop more effective strategies for people management and training?
Yes. One of our client offerings is employee engagement; using our communications experts to help create content and develop campaigns for our employee engagement initiatives is pivotal to their success.

How do you make sure the HR department plays a part in the lives of employees?
We have embedded an ethos of co-creation into our HR strategy, which ensures a two-way relationship with staff. This allows us to ask employees what they want rather than telling them what we are doing. This will continue to be the fundamental basis of transforming our HR department to be less like a reactive support function and more of a proactive and trusted partner to the organisation at large. Workshops, regular check-ins, ‘stop, start, continue’ focus groups and a multitude of other engagement initiatives keep us integrated.